Vizag’s iconic Jagadamba Theatre completes 50 glorious years of exhibiting movies. The theatre opened on the 25th of October 1970 and has screened some of the biggest Tolly wood and Hollywood blockbusters. Indeed, the theatre rises to every festival occasion with a bunch of new movies by making a symbiotic relationship with Vizag moviegoers. The man behind setting up of Jagadamba Theatre is Mr.Vegi Bhadrachalam – popularly known as Rambabu, a wholesale merchant of vegetables and a passionate fan of English movies, conquered the hearts of Vizag by building cinema theatre in all its magnificence in 1970.
With the help poured from KN Srinivasan, one of the finest architects from Madras, Rambabu personally supervised the construction on 4,200 sq. Yards. The awe-inspiring building with an exotic spiral ramp leading to its balcony was inaugurated on 27th October 1970 Sri JV Narasinga Rao, the then Dy. Minister of AP. Named after his mother, Jagadamba, the theatre with 1,200 seats along with its sparkling screen opened with “Where Eagles Dare” a British Metrocolor World War II action film directed by Brian G Hutton and starring Richard Burton, Client Eastwood, and Mary Ure in 70 mm format with stereophonic sound effects. Another thing, which makes Vizag proud, is that it is one of the few theatres across the world to be built according to the stringent specifications set by Mr Todd A.O. – the inventor of the 70 mm format. With his wisdom, the choice of movie was quite appropriate like a box office hit, for Rambabu too dared where others did not. And the rest is history.
At present, surrounded by the shopping malls, big commercial complexes, and swanky street food stalls, the theatre became a hot spot for people flocking in hordes from all parts of North-Andhra as offered an almost heavenly experience which was unheard of till then. The palpable surge in-crowd and ever-increasing traffic at this place, popularly called Jagadamba junction, became quite synonymous with Vizag. With second-generation joining his father’s business to further expand, come another set of new theatres Sarada, Ramadevi with upgrades in sound and projection systems, and spacious video-games hall in the theatre premises. Thus making not only the first multiplex theatre complex in Vizag but also etched itself indelibly in people’s collective consciousness forever.
Old-timers like Polavarapu Easwar Rao, a septuagenarian, a resident of one town area, fondly remember reveling in wonderful movies of Biblical saga (Ben Hur, Ten Commandments), Wars (Where Eagles Dare), and other hits. “Jagadama theatre is part of the city’s cinematic history. There were always eateries around, and plenty of rickshaws and few autos to take you back home late at night. Vizagites of a certain vintage have watched the best of Hollywood at Jagadamba. I really cherish those moments going along with my best friends, 62-year-old cinema-goer Ram Kumar said.
It’s a matter of great feat that ‘Jurassic Park’ directed by Steven Spielberg ran for almost 10 weeks, and ‘Aliens’ for 50 days at a stretch speaks volumes about the symbiotic relationship between Jagadamba, Hollywood, and Vizag moviegoers. The ever bonding connection of the theatre with Hollywood is so wide and reach, when it comes to spectacular screening, all head-honchos of Hollywood distributors from Mumbai corporate offices dial directly to Jagadamba theatre on regular basis. Though there are many Multiplex’s in Vizag, Jagdamba Theatre is always special one. Even now, Jagadamba theatre draws huge crowds. It is keeping its magnetism intact. It is infinitely precious.
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