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15.06.2017

Ah, the old Bangalore plotline. A Rajinikanth movie opens. You try to get the overnight train to Chennai. You’re foiled by IRCTC. Your friend has to sell your Sathyam Cinemas ticket to someone else at the last minute.

They can’t help you with the Railways website, but SPI Cinemas, the company which runs Sathyam, has finally launched its attempt to recreate the magic at Magadi. Nearly two years after it was first announced, the company opened its new movie theatre The Cinema at GT World Mall last weekend, with five screens, 1,155 seats and an in-house kitchen for the buttery corn that’s coming all the way from Nebraska (!) to pop in said seats.

Be Kind, Rewind

For many Chennai migrants to Bangalore, movie-going often means an extended mournful flashback to Sathyam gatherings for Tuesday evening festival film screenings and “Blind Date Wednesdays,” when you sign up to watch an unknown movie. While a Sathyam rep we spoke to says they’re still figuring out programming for Bangaloreans, we can report that the excellence of their Chennai popcorn and the slightly out-of-place but welcome gourmet catering is on-point.

“Nothing frozen or prepackaged,” we’re told. Curated by French chef Mickael Besse -- who’s consulted for Sathyam since inception -- the concession stand offers gourmet sandwiches, light, fragrant cold coffees and freshly squeezed juice.

The Cinema at GT World Mall opened last weekend, with five screens, 1,155 seats and an in-house kitchen for the buttery corn that’s coming all the way from Nebraska (!) to pop in said seats.

We’re not immediately sure how to cope. Both food court and lobby are large and uncluttered, which allows for exceptionally easy queuing, at least on weekdays. When you line up for a taste, you will do so in marbled corridors with undulating ceiling fixtures, and carry your goods in to extremely velvety multiplex interiors, complete with chandeliers. We should, of course, have expected no less from the culture that produced Kamal Haasan?

Kabhie Plushie Kabhie Gham

It certainly raises the bar for swank in our city, but we should note that the chandeliers and velvet have little to do with its iconic status in Chennai. The Besse chocolate desserts, the house-made puffs (“best in Chennai,” a friend swears) and symbiotic relationship with Tamil movie star culture have all contributed to make Sathyam something special in our neighbours’ capital. It’s also a rare public experience that’s friendly to upwardly mobile non-Madrasis, with subtitled shows and a general feeling of multiplex well-being.

Perhaps fittingly to woo a city of techies, The Cinema is juiced with apps and services that allow you to minimise human interaction. They allow you to reserve seats and buy food quickly; and offer a WhatsApp service, which we’re told will provide instant responses to queries.

We almost asked for a route to the restrooms, but felt very glad that we didn’t follow through on this gag when we spoke to Aditya Shrikrishna, film critic for The New Indian Express in Chennai and Sathyam regular in that city. “They’re very quick to respond to feedback,” he tells us. Inadvertently, he adds another warning. “They are also extremely punctual about their show timings,” he says. “A show will start at the exact time as is printed on the ticket, with no unnecessary trailers or advertisements that end up extending the interval time.” There goes your “heavy traffic” excuse, Bangalore.

Getting there: GT World Mall, 9th cross, Magadi Road. Log on here for show timings and more details.

Accessibility: The theatre is fully wheelchair accessible and includes an elevator from the parking lot. 

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