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Tamil Nadu - Salem Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

It is curtains for tinsel world's dream factory

By R. Ilangovan



The Modern Theatres complex in Salem which will pave the way for flats and houses. — Photo: P. Goutham

SALEM, MARCH 7. Modern Theatres, from where leading lights such as M.G. Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesan, Kannadasan and M. Karunanidhi mesmerised the Tamil audience with their magical touch of creativity, is being pulled down.

The landmark, situated on nine acres on Yercaud road here, has been handed over to a private construction firm for promoting flats and houses. The promoters, respecting its glorious past, have decided to dismantle the exquisitely-designed stone arch carrying the legendary name of `Modern Theatres Limited' and erect it a few metres away with a new name, `Sundar Garden' as per `vasthu sasthra'. Other worn-out buildings, including studio houses and sheds, that figured in many movies are also being brought down.

For the nostalgic, the obliteration of the landmark deeply hurts. For them, the thin filament that has retained the connectivity to the golden era has been snapped.

From `Sathi Ahalya' in 1937 to `Vetri Namathe' in 1982, Modern Theatres produced 117 films, of which many of them are box-office hits. M.G. Ramachandran and Banumathi-starrer, `Alibabavum Naarpadu Thirudargalum', filmed in colour, created history.

Modern Theatres has many firsts to its credit. Its founder, T.R. Sundaram, popularly known as TRS, equipped it with latest tools for making a full-length talkie. The connoisseurs of art, who yearned for perfection, used to camp here. It also produced Kannada, Sinhalese, Hindi and Kannada films. The monolith among the directors of past, Ellis R. Duncan, worked here for many films that became roaring hits.

Many artistes, including M.G. Ramachandran, Manohar, Ramasamy, Thangavelu, Gemini Ganesan, scriptwriter Karunanidhi and lyricist Kannadasan remained on its payrolls. Artistes including Jayalalithaa, V.N. Janaki and Manorama also acted under its banner.

The near-by Yercaud hills and once picturesque Panamarathupatti Lake in Salem provided a perfect outdoor ambience for any film director. The city provided masons, light boys, labourers and junior artistes. After the demise of TRS, his son Sundaram took over the reigns at a time when Chennai was fast becoming an active centre for film production. But his penchant for dabbling in innovative approach and tight script kept Modern Theatres going. With Jaishankar on rolls, it produced a series of hits on James Bond-type movies.

But the sudden death of Sundaram had brought the curtain down on an epoch-making unit that churned out celluloid dreams for millions.

The dream factory of the past is being transformed into a cluster of ``dream homes'' at a realistic price for prospective buyers now.

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