Sandalwood’s favourite screen, Kapali will soon be a cherished memory

In the past, Gandhinagar, the hub of Kannada films and film goers had many single screens, which would mostly screen Kannada films. However, with the rise in real estate value, most single screens are being demolished only to be replaced by high worth malls or other commercial developments. Possibly the last one standing will die a natural death soon. Vedanth has more.

The landmark single screen on the Kannada film landscape, Kapali theatre, which has in a way grown with the Kannada film industry, is also facing a similar fate. It has witnessed the ups and downs of Sandalwood like no other screen in Karnataka.

Located at SubedarChatram Road in Gandhinagar, it was the largest theatre in Bengaluru. Besides this, it was second largest theatre in world and largest in India as well.

However, curtains will soon be down on the glorious screen of this theatre which organized rendevouz between Sandalwood fans and their idols for decades now.

Sources say that the owners of the theatre have sold the property and the new owner may build a commercial complex with a six screen multiplex. In all likelihood, movie screening may be stopped by May end, next year.

Way back in the 60s, Gopal Films and H Dasappa and sons Private Limited built the theatre on 44,184 sqft land. The theatre was inaugurated on February 16, 1968 by the then Union Finance Minister Morarji Desai.

'ManninaMaga' starring thespian Dr Rajkumar was the first film screened here and incidentally this film went on to become the first Kannada blockbuster completing 100 days.

Though the theatre used to screen Hindi and English films occasionally, the management decided to stick to only Kannada films. The renewed single language policy of the theatre started with screen of Dr Raj's film 'HaaluJenu' in 1982.

The fans were often seen in a frenzy outside this theatre. Cut outs of superstars, fans offering garlands to the cine idols were common scenes here. What more, Dr Rajkumar’s biggest cut-out ever, all of 58-feet was installed outside the theatre when it announced it was resuming screening of Kannada movies. In a way, Kapali theatre remained loyal to Dr Rajkumar and today it has to its credit the record for screeningthe maximum number of Dr Rajkumar’s films.

Gradually, Kapali had grown as big in stature as the Sandalwood industry itself. Getting screen time in Kapalithreatre was indeed a prestige issue. It was said that if a film runs in this theatre for seven weeks, it is equal to the film running for 100 days in other theatres. Such was the charm of Kapali that till date none has been able to decipher the reasons hidden behind Kapalitheater’s success.


In its 49 years of existence, Kapali has seen many happy and bitter episodes. While fans would scream hysterically and dance in gaiety seeing their super stars on screen, there were painful incidents that will always be remembered. In 1983, two people were killed when a wall of theatre collapsed after an adjacent building came crashing down.

Many people were injured when the police caned the audience to control the situation after Upendra’s ‘H2o’ (2002) was released.

The theatre has seen many blockbusters. Shivarajkumar starrer "Om" was re-released around 30 times at this theatre, which is a record. The last film to be screened here is "Huliraya" and the screening of the same reportedly stopped on October 12.

The Kannada movie fans will miss this theatre and the super stars will miss the crazy fans who would resort to deification of their stars at the very theatre complex.

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