Monday, September 10, 2012
No, it is not like platform nine-and-three-quarters at King's Cross. This gatepost is all that remains of what was once Madras' leading multi-screen cinema - the Safire complex. Together with Emerald and Blue Diamond, they formed the Veecumsee Group's entertainment business. It seemed rather apt and I used to think about a karmic connection each time we-went-to-see a movie there.
Correction: the complex was not just a movie palace. I remember playing Atari's Pong there for the first time. Pinball tables: check. Jukebox: check. Bubble elevator: check. It also housed the city's first discotheque. Nine Gems was the place to go if you wanted to groove to the Beatles. The disco did not last for long; it was replaced by a Gujarati / Rajasthani restaurant named Navaratna. Even that became less of an attraction as days went by. Safire was a place for the movies.
Today, Safire is a place for memories. The Veecumsee family members seem to have gone back to focus on their other business - jewellery and resorts, as well as some new economy ventures. They have moved away from the cinema/entertainment sector - probably they are also overawed by the thought of competing with such a larger than life legacy!