Have you guys noticed the name Kibe Laxmi Theatre on online ticket-booking portals? Did it manage to arouse your curiosity and leave you wondering that how on Earth has someone opened up a new theatre right in the heart of the bustling city that is the Narayan Peth area, where basic problems like lack of parking and standing area exist!
Well, to answer your curiosity, the Kibe Laxmi Theatre is the renovated version of the good old pre-existing Prabhat Talkies! For some, the curiosity still persists, while clarity must have dawned on the ones who might have visited the theatre with their families to catch up on Marathi movies.
Prabhat Talkies is the home of Marathi films since the 1970s and was instigated way before that in 1930s. One of the oldest theatres in the city, it is still housed in the same structure built 83 years ago!
Looking back at its history is bound to bring a smile on your face as the sheer simplicity of the old eras makes one’s toes curl with the realisation of how far we’ve come!
If a city can be defined by its people, culture and historical monuments, then Pune is incomplete without its iconic theatre, Prabhat Theatre; converted from a wada owned by Sardar Kibe. The wada also sheltered the press and head office of the state’s oldest newspaper, Daily Dnyanprakash, along with the Hujurpaga School for girls within its huge premise.
However, on May 25, 1926, the wada got destroyed in a fire and was resurrected as the Kibe Laxmi Theatre. Around the same time, Prabhat Film Company shifted from Kolhpur to Pune and bought the Kibe Laxmi Theatre from Sardar Kibe; naming it after the company’s name- Prabhat Talkies.
The first screening happened on September 21, 1934, of the English film ‘Love Me Tonight.’ The talkies screened English movies for years to come and then switched to Marathi cinema in the 1970s. The popular Marathi film Maherchi Saadi went on a two-year long run, breaking cinema records!
The theatre was then divided into different sections, as per the classes of the society, based on the ticket prices. Fun fact is that the hall even had a glass door section for the women accompanied by their babies so that the crying won’t disturb the audience in the other sections! It was funnily named as the ‘Cry Box’. Thoughtful much?
In 2008, the talkies came up with a new scheme wherein they started a telephone booking facility. The customer had to purchase a card for Rs. 150, which would be a lifetime card and would let them avail the telephone booking facility. Every card would have a password which would facilitate the booking. In this current era of the Internet, how strange does it feel to read that something as basic as a telephone booking facility existed just nine years ago?
The recent 2017 renovation hasn’t ruined the heritage that Prabhat Talkies has always been. The new management has duly retained the old structure along with the nostalgic feels that accompany it while introducing few technological improvements. The original name has been brought back and the tickets are still cheaper than multiplexes. We love the preservation of the old memories while upgradation of the functionality. How about you?