SL Cinemas was opened in 1981 as the first in the state to house four separate screens in one building. 'Anjali' is the biggest of the four cine-halls, followed by 'Athulya', 'Athira' and 'Aswathy'. Traditionally, the different cinema halls concentrated around the Thampanoor - East Fort - Overbridge area were identified with the kind of movies screened at the particular place. And traditionally, SL Cinemas was popular as a screening place for movies in Tamil, Hindi, English and more recently, dubbed versions of Telugu movies.
Joy M Pillai is the Director of SL Cinemas; he narrates in short how things went down for the complex.
“SL Cinemas was widely popular with the public till the early nineties. Then came a devastating labor problem that threw the functioning of this complex completely off track. As an aftermath, everything, including the daily maintenance of the cine-halls, were run in a disorganised manner. Slowly SL Cinemas lost its ground among other cinema halls in the city,” says Joy M Pillai.
Things went from bad to worse for the complex. Maintenance was neglected and the cinema halls disintegrated quickly. At it lowest point, three of its four halls started screening b-grade movies on a permanent basis.
Joy M Pillai had been stationed at Mumbai, till the deteriorating circumstances forced him to return to the city. Since the latter half of the previous decade SL Cinemas has been showing signs of resurgence. At present it commands a decent crowd turn out with every movie change.
Now, Joy intends to take it to the next level. A Rs.50 lakh projector, which is being used only by a couple of other cine-halls in South India, has now been installed at Anjali theater for a better viewing experience, especially when it comes to technologically advanced Hollywood movies, like the 'Dark Knight Rises', which is currently being screened at the theater.
“The screen in Anjali is the largest in the city, measuring 60 feet from end to end. This projector was the only one feasible to our demands and budget for giving the viewer the best experience, considering the size of the screen.”
'Anjali' is also set to get a major overhaul with its seats; soon the theater would feature seats like those in aircrafts for a relaxed movie viewing experience.
'Athulya' comes next after 'Anjali' in terms of size and capacity, but 'Athulya' stands a distant second in terms of facilities.
“The dimensions of Athulya aren’t optimal for the present lay out of the theater. We plan to have it renovated to hold two screens, with changes made in the seating arrangements in the halls. Also the projection quality and the sound quality would be updated with the best in the soonest possible time.”
While 'Anjali' stands tall as one of the biggest cine-halls in the city and one of the more important releasing centers in the state, 'Athira' and 'Aswathy', the remaining two theaters in the complex come in as one of the smallest in the city. 'Aswathy', with a total capacity of just around 140, legitimately holds the rank of being the smallest cine-hall in Trivandrum.
“I am totally helpless with the small size and seating capacity of the two theaters,” shrugs Joy. “The only thing that could be done is to provide the restricted number of audience in those halls, with the best film experience possible within the restricted screen space and hall size, and we would be doing all we can to ensure that.”
Additionally, Joy also plans to convert the space now lying un-utilized at the top floor in the building, into a food court, with a play section for kids.
“The idea is to treat every person arriving at this complex with a 'total package', like in the multiplexes,” says Joy.
Sl Cinema is the screening place for essentially non-Malayalam movies, a feature that gets reflected on the nature of the crowd as well. The usual turn out at SL Cinemas can be split between Malayalees, techies belonging to North India, laborers belonging to the North East and a section of the Tamilians living in Trivandrum.
Lack of adequate parking space remains one of the major problems faced by people arriving at SL Cinemas, for which, Joy consents, there is no immediate solution to be churned out.
SL Cinemas: Regaining Lost Ground
On Aug 02, 2012