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Vol XXXI No. 19, January 16-31, 2022

Heritage Watch: A Pandemic where even Open Air Fails

William Satish (are there no limits to his energy?) sends us yet another photograph, this time of the Prarthana Drive-In Theatre in Injambakkam and asks us if we know anything about the place. He also asks as to why an open-air theatre, which ought to be the best solution in these pandemic times had to close.

Well, Madras Musings is no business newspaper and so can only hazard a conjecture as to why the theatre shut operations – when stay home is the safety mantra, where is the question of driving out to see a movie, even if it is to watch from the safe confines of a car? And so early in January 2021, Prarthana stopped operating – the term downing shutters may not be appropriate.

Said to be South India’s (if not India’s) first such facility, Prarthana and its indoor version Aradhana were the creations of Dr. N. Devanathan who as per the theatre’s website, dreamt of a place where it was possible to see a film under the open sky and within the reach of sea breeze. It was a great idea. But then, with the traffic increasing all along the stretch, ambient noises became one of the first banes of the operations, which commenced in 1991. Exactly twenty years later, they ceased. They say twenty years is very long while in show business.

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