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What the archive kept - The Safire Theatre, India

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Thomas Hauerslev Date: 10.01.2021
The Veecumsee Family opened the Safire 70mm cinema in Chennai, India in 1964. Picture by Christian Blomberg

What the archive kept. I recently found a picture taken by my friend Christian on a visit to Chennai in India in the late 1980s. He took this picture for me, as it said "70mm" on the facade. I was curious if the Internet had any information about it. Not much is known, but here are a few details. If any readers from India can add something, in70mm.com welcome this information.

From Wikipedia (edited):

The Safire Theatre complex was India's first largest multi-theatre complex located in the southern city of Chennai. The theatre complex located on Mount Road (now Anna Salai) consisted of three screening halls, namely, Safire, Blue Diamond, and Emerald. While the largest named Safire screened Hollywood movies, the others, Emerald and Diamond screened Indian films.

Safire is the first 70mm theatre in India. The first movie to play in Safire was Cleopatra in 1964. It was spacious, if a bit spartan in furniture, and for the first few years screened only English language films. My Fair Lady, Sound of Music, Lawrence of Arabia, Funny Girl, and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World were some of the early movies. Safire opened its door to the public in 1964.

From The Hindu (edited):

The cinema, was demolished in 2003. As long as it lasted, the Safire threatre complex was a landmark. The building became dilapidated and was finally demolished in 2003. The widescreen Safire seated around 1,000. The names of the theatres were in line with the family’s main lapidary business. After ruling the world of cinema-goers in Chennai, Safire began to show signs of cracking up, by the 1980s. With Cable TV keeping viewers at home, the crowds dwindled to almost nothing and the Veecumsees closed down the complex. In 1994, they sold it.
More in 70mm reading:

70mm Film in India

70mm Filming in India

Somaflex-65-70MM, India's First 65mm Camera

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Updated 21-01-24