Tuesday, September 7, 2021




Hari Talkies is owned by the well known KC ( Mahajan ) family of Jammu . The family bought Uttam Talkies also whereat they raised the KC Residency( Hotel ) with a rooftop revolving restaurant .Apart from taking the major lead in activating the industrial activities in the state, the K.C. family gave two modern cinema halls, a cineplex, a good public school and a revolving restaurant to the Jammu city. Through their hotels and various industries, this group was the biggest private-sector employer in the state .

Uttam group was owned by the family of Sardar Uttam Singh. The Uttam group owned a flour milll apart from the famous Uttam Talkies located on the Residency Road,Jammu

When KC, Shakuntala, Swarn and Apsara were not opened,Hari, Uttam and Shankar were the main cinema halls of the Jammu city. Hari was much sought after by family visitors. It was centrally located at Raghunath Bazaar close to Raghunath Ji Temple. One could walk to the cinema from any corner of the old city. I remember O P Ralhan's 'Talash' was shown in this hall.It was distributed by a Jalandhar based distribution company at an exorbitant price. The proprietors of Hari had purchased a single print of the film that was shown in two halls ; Uttam and Hari .The show at Uttam would start half an hour later. The employees from Hari would physically carry the cinema reels in parts in a box to Uttam Talkies . Some very good movies would be screened at Hari and Uttam Talkies . Later ,only B grade movies were screened at these cinema halls.Hollywood movies were also shown at Hari cinema sometimes during the morning show . After the renovation of 1980, the cinema bought some new releases for screening but later on this practice was withdrawn.

A cinema lover from Jammu told me this :-

" The location of this cinema has been the key attraction. Seats in the hall are very old and torn . Ticket prices are certainly very low in this cinema hall. A balcony ticket over here costs just eighty rupees.That way you get the value of money. New films are not released in this hall. The crowd visiting the cinema hall creates lot of noise and disturbance. For some time, it became a place of lovemaking for young boys and girls. That looked very cheap. I wish it opens with some new release and restores its past glory with immediate repairs and renovations . "

The cinema needs extensive repairs and renovation although some renovations were carried out in1980 . I believe the land upon which Hari Talkies was built remains leased to the owners by the trust that manages Raghunath Ji Temple of Jammu. .

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the cinema lies closed. Since long ,the vacant land around the hall has been converted into paid vehicle parking space . I also park my car over here as and when I visit Raghunath Bazaar.

Unfortunately, some prime cinema halls of Jammu are closed since long due to litigation . Swarn cinema at Gandhinagar and Jewel Cinema in Jewel Chowk fall in this category. Swaran was owned by two families ;Khurana and Bhallas from Jammu.The Khurana family did petrol business under the name and style of Sital Singh Issar Singh while the Bhallas were promoters of NITCO transport company . 

Shankar cinema stands converted into a cold storage . Shankar was owned by Wahi family of Jammu who also owned the Jewel cinema. I happened to know one elderly person from this Wahi family who would come to the bank in an elegant Achkan and a Churidaar Pyjama. I was posted at Canal Road branch of the bank and the family lived nearby. He was a thorough gentleman. On certain days, Shankar cinema would keep one show exclusively for ladies . It was known as 'Ladies Show ' . Tiger cinema at Satwari was also open to civilians although it was well inside the army area. 

Hari cinema would issue concessional tickets to students on production of proper Identity Card. I believe some more cinemas in  Jammu  provided this concession to students.

Hari Talkies needs to be preserved and managed in a better way once it opens after the Covid-19 restrictions. It needs some urgent repairs and renovations..

( Avtar Mota)

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