Prabhat, the theatre which brought a ray
of sunshine to Pune culture.
"Prabhat! That's the oldest talkie of Pune, about half
a century old," is the first thought that
enters the mind of Puneites on the mere utterance
of its name. Though located on one of the most
polluted and crowded roads of Pune in Appa Balwant
Chowk, the place still retains its old identity.
I planned my interview with Balkrishna Damodar
Bhide, who has been the caretaker of the talkie
since 1971. I reached there around one in the
afternoon and met a very warm and affectionate-looking
is the first one started in Pune. Then there were
no other theatres for performing plays and other
form of art and so Prabhat would give the exponents
of art a stage. Eventually theatres for the sole purpose of staging plays were
built and the talkie came to be known as the place
only for films," he began.
Throwing light on the history of the place, Bhide continued,
"The place where Prabhat stands today was
once holding a Wada of Sardar Kibe of Indore,
which ran a press called Dnyanaprakash. In 1926,
the press caught fire and the whole place was
burnt down. Later in 1933, a company called Prabhat
Film Company moved into Pune from Kolhapur and
set up a studio with the name Prabhat. Sardar
Kibe set up a theatre with the help of this company
and named it Laksmi Kibe theatre after his mother.
All the films produced at the studio were screened
at this theatre. Later the theatre came to be
known as Prabhat."
"Earlier there were only silent movies. On September 21,
1934, an English movie 'Love me Tonight' ushered
in an era of non-silent movies screened by an
English talkie. In the same year, on 17th October,
the first Marathi non-silent film Amritmanthan
was screened. Since then, more than
600 films have been screened at Prabhat and over
30 movies have celebrated their silver jubilee
here. The famous Marathi movie Maherchi
Saadi ran for two years at Prabhat."
When asked about the development of the talkie, he goes on:
"We have managed
to keep with the times by building a dress circle
and a balcony and also having cinemascope facility.
The theatre has all that theatre-goers could ask
the Government of India has started screening
children's films produced by the Children's Film
Society of India every Sunday. And to contribute
our bit, we run the shows on no-profit basis by
selling the tickets at a minimal amount of Rs.5/-
Ours is an old dingy building, with congested seating arrangements,
and no air-conditioning, but in spite of all this,
the place still holds a special place in the Puneite's
heart! And will continue to remain there for
years to come."
Address: Prabhat Theatre, Appa Balwant Chowk, Near
NMV Boys High School, Pune 411 030.