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Udhayam theatre to turn into residential complex

Udhayam theatre, one of Chennai's first multiplexes, will be demolished by TNHB to make way for a residential complex in Ashok Nagar. Sanjay Chugh from Anarock Group mentioned the high FSI will allow multi-storey buildings to replace the complex. Rajinikanth fans expressed sadness over the closure.

Udhayam theatre, one of the city’s iconic cinema halls, is set to be pulled down to make way for a residential complex to be constructed on the prime 1.31-acre property in Ashok Nagar.The theatre complex, one of the city’s first multiplexes, came up on land purchased from TNHB under a conditional sale deed in 1983.

The plot houses Udhayam, Mini Udhayam, Suriyan and Chandran theatres.S Balasubramanian, who says he is the founder’s son, said TNHB initially allotted the land in the name of his father Sundaram Pillai. “Subsequently on request, the sale deed was registered in the name of Aruna Theatres company. His five brothers were included as directors. The first movie to be screened there was ‘Sivappu Suriyan’, a Rajnikanth starrer,” he said.

Sanjay Chugh, city head and director (Chennai), Anarock Group, said. “These standalone theatres are in prime locations, but owners are selling them to real estate developers as they are running losses. Since the FSI is higher now, multi-storey buildings will replace the complex,” he said.

Cinema buffs expressed sadness over the shutting down of the iconic theatre. “We have celebrated the success of Rajnikanth movies at the theatre. I remember pasting posters and welcoming people to the movie hall,” said R Rajini Babu, Kancheepuram district joint secretary of Rajinikanth fans and welfare association. S Sridhar, secretary, TN Theatre Owners Association, said that close to 300 theatres across the state were on the verge of closure.

“We are not even able to pay electricity bills. There are a total of 1,226 screens across the state. Most of them have bad collections due to surge in OTT viewership,” he said.

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