Established in 1968, the theatre has hosted several celebrities ―from Senior NTR to Allu Arjun ― who would come to watch a film with the audience.

Sree mayuri theatre watchman locking the main doorSree Mayuri theatre
Features Tollywood Wednesday, July 14, 2021 - 19:00

The RTC X junction at Musheerabad is one of the busiest in Hyderabad. Not only because of the various business activities in and around it but also because of the numerous single screen theatres that are present in the two kilometre radius of the area. But now, the busy junction is slowly changing in character, as one after the other, the single screen theatres are on the verge of closure. In the last decade, Usha Mayuri theatre was demolished and a petrol pump has come up in its place. Another old theatre in a small lane at the junction, Sree Mayuri, has now closed down too.

Once called Sangam Theatre, Sree Mayuri was inaugurated on January 31, 1968, making it more than 50 years old. However, the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be the last nail in the coffin for the theatre which had already lost its sheen. 

Several people who used to visit the theatre recall it as a cozy space. "I remember watching the SP Balu-Lakshmi starrer Mithunam in Sree Mayuri in 2012 when the film was released in a few theatres. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a perfectly good theatre that had just happened to stay away from marble flooring and cove lighting. I enjoyed the film as it was less crowded. And oh yes, the small samosa was awesome. I may not have patronised the theatre much, but it was a winner all the way," says Manjulatha Kalanidhi, senior reporter at The New Indian Express.

Regular patrons recall standing in the narrow ticket lanes for hours in order to grab a ticket for their favourite actor's films. The theatre is also known for dedicating a screen for several weeks for a hit film. If a film is no longer showing in multiplexes, you probably would find it at some theatre or the other at the RTC X junction. Though the crowds may be less, Sree Mayuri too had been upholding the tradition. According to the theatre management, the 2001 hit film Anandam, starring Akash and Rekha, ran for over 200 days at Sree Mayuri, making it one of the longest runs for a film at that point.

History

It was in the 1960s that the Badam brothers, Rangaswamy and Ramaswamy, decided to buy a piece of land and build a theatre. And it was a mere Rs 100 that made the brothers seal the deal at the current location. “Back then, our family was interested in the area near Shanti and Basanth theatres, which was at a junction, but it was costlier by around Rs 100. The brothers then decided to go for this, as it was more affordable," says Venkata Krishna, son of Badam Rangaswamy. He reveals that the land from the metro line to the theatre was all part of one complex at a point in time. However, due to differences between the brothers, the front portion was converted into a commercial establishment. Venkata Krishna further adds that fortunately, over the years, the area where they set up the theatre became a bigger junction than the location of the other plot.
 
The theatre back then brought in projectors and other equipment all the way from Chennai and Bombay. It was called Sangam Theatre and it was a Hindi movie that was first screened in the complex.
 
 
Badam brothers, Rangaswamy and Ramaswamy

The theatre has hosted several actors over the years, from Senior NTR, Akkineni Nageswara Rao to Allu Arjun and Ravi Teja, who have been to this space to watch a film with the audience. The theatre got a facelift in 1992 and was called Ram Lakhan. But after it was renovated in 2001, the name was changed to Sree Mayuri again.

ANR at the theatre

NTR at the theatre

Allu Arjun at the theatre
 

“Over the years, despite several challenges, we strived to maintain the theatre as we are passionate about it. The excitement of a new release, the audience's reaction to the movie, crowd management...we used to enjoy everything," says Venkat Krishna.

He adds that the maintenance cost, including the municipal taxes, staff salaries and other expenses became unbearable over time, with the government cutting down on revenue sources.

Theatre staff

Current position of theatre

"In any theatre, we get revenue mostly from the canteen rentals, parking fee and tickets. However, the revenue from the ticket sales also partly goes to the distributor system,” says Venkata Krishna.

Earlier in 2018, the Municipal Administration of Urban Development Department (MAUD) of Hyderabad had issued a government order stating that malls, theatres, multiplexes, hospitals and other such institutions should provide free parking. The emergence of Over-the-Top platforms has also reduced footfalls to theatres, Venkata Krishna believes. Thus, the lockdown induced by the COVID-19 pandemic came as the last nail in the coffin for many theatres, including Sree Mayuri.

The theatre which once hosted hundreds of people for movie screenings is now without its comfortable seats. The electricity has also been cut since it never reopened after the first lockdown in 2020. The owners are now chalking out plans for what to do with the space next.

Read: No toilet facilities, long work hours: The plight of Telangana's women bus conductors

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