Located barely a kilometer away on the TN-Kerala border town of Velanthavalam along Palakkad Road is a non descript, almost rundown, C-class movie hall called Sree Dhanalakshmi theatre. Until ten days ago, this theatre was known only two a few thousand residents who live in and around Velanthavalam and frequented to the theatre to watch popular Tamil and English movies.
Since January 25, Sree Dhanalakshmi theatre has been the centre of attraction across Tamil Nadu as hundreds of Kamal fans and movie lovers thronged this theatre from as far away as Chennai to watch the banned Kamal-starrer Viswaroopam. Fans came here from as far away as Chennai catching flights and trains to watch the nonstop screening of the film.
Barely two weeks after the film released to a roaring response, theatre owners and siblings, Gokul Das and Gopalakrishnan, claim that Viswaroopam release has been a turning point in the history of the five-decades-old theatre as well as their lives.
But, it has not been an easy ride. “We made a difficult choice and it has paid off,” says Gokul Das, whose grandfather built the theatre back in 1959. He points out that when Kamal Hassan planned to release the movie in DTH earlier, the Kerala Exhibitors Federation whose members formed ‘A’ and ‘B’ class theatres in Kerala had refused to screen the film.“They also tried to wrestle smaller players like us from screening the film,” Gokul said. “But, we contaced Rajkamal Films directly, paid the deposit and got the screening rights.”
Since day one, the movie has been running to packed houses and theatre owners, who normally screened only three shows a day, doubled the number of shows and Viswaroopam has been running from 9 am in the morning to 3 am on the following morning for the last ten days.
“Our collection has crossed all records and we have been able to pay back Rajkamal Films their share of around Rs. 6 lakhs so far. This is a record across Kerala for any movie theatre including ‘A’ class theatres to generate such a revenue for a Tamil film,” says Gopalakrishnan who runs the theatre along with his elder brother.
Before Viswaroopam, the biggest success story for Sree Dhanalakshmi Theatre was Rajini-starrer Padayappa that ran for 10 days. “This move has broken all previous records and has become a game changer for our business. We are glad that we could cater to Kamal’s fans from across Tamil Nadu and ensure that they did not go home disappointed,” say the owner brothers who plan to hold a special function on the 25th day of release of the film.