I will just focus on cinema theaters .
Madras was hub of south Indian cinema .
All four south indian language films were made in Madras .
All film actors ,script writers ,music directors ,choreographers ,extra actors ,make up artistes ,stunt men lived in Madras .
Anyone trying to make it in the film world packed thier dreams in a suitcase and headed to Madras .
The area around Kodambakkam,vadapazhani ,Nungambakkam , T.Nagar were filled with lodges where the small time creative people stayed
Huge studios like AVM,Vijaya Vauhini ,studious were full of activity .
Naturally in such a filmi city there would be good theaters too .
Some of them I remember are
Kapali theater was in Mandaveli was close to where we lived .I remember my mother taking me and sister for matinees as dad was never keen on films.we always used to stand in long ques for a ticket as she would only buy a not very costly one but we enjoyed the trip.
It was only when my uncle and aunt from Dubai came and we all went for a tamil film Chithi that i sat in the costliest srction at that time Rs 2.50 please dont laugh as that amount those days could fetch a lot
Today a beggar wouldnt touch it .
Uncle clearly bored of the melodrama in the film was seen sneaking out to the lobby for a quick smoke which was met with angry grunts from aunty in the dark of the theater !
One rare occasion when my dad did come ( probably he was hen pecked into it )i remember he took me to a nearby small hotel and bought me a plate of mixture while he had a coffee
Nothing tasted as good as that ever because those days eating in hotels were very rare .
Kapali theater was also where me and my fruend cheenu used to go for seeing Deepavali day matinee !
The other theater nearby was in Luz corner named Kamadhenu
Dad never shirked taking us to the famous Childrens theater in Triplicane as it screened only childrens films.
I always remember seeing David Copperfield there .
During my high school days came the multiplex Safire Blue Diamond and Emerald in Mount Road in heart of city .
Blue Diamond screened films continiously ie if you get in with a ticket you can go on watching the same film any number of times till you walk out .
So this was ideal for many visiting city and had time to kill but did not want to pay to a hotel they watched a film slept ate jn the attached refreshment room in air conditioned ambience .
It was also good for lovebirds an ideal perch with no time limits .
Safire was huge 70 mm and always screened Hollywood hits till tamil chauvinism forced them to screen tamil films in nineties.
I remember seeing battle of the bulge
Ben hur ,mary poppins ,if its tuesday it must be belgium,its a mad mad world ,cleopatra etc here .
Emerald also was small theater
Anand theater in mount road again screened good hindi films like Aradhana ,Bawarchi ,Anand film etc
Anand will always be my favourite theater as i saw my first film with a girl ....who is my wife today too in that theater or in other words it was my first date with her..manjil virinja pookal a malayalam film with a wiry Mohanlal as a grimacing villain.
Down into mount road was the famous Shanti theater said to be owned by veteran actor Sivaji Ganesan himself
The Devi complex was also very posh
The Anna theater nearby came later showed mainly hindi films .
In thousand lights there was the elite sangam complex where we saw lot of films post engagement and after marriage .
Odeon theater was in Royapettah
Casino theater again near Mount road screened mostly english films and Eliphinstone theater near subway of main center of mount road screened mostly malayalam films and was a sort of meeting place for the madras settled keralites.
Marriage matches were made there i heard .
On sundays there would be snaking ques to watch a pencil moustachiod gesticulating Prem nazir to a buxom sheela or a towrering hulk madhu .
Today most of these landmarks have changed some like eliphinstone became shopping complexes
Many are modern movie plazas
Childrens theater was turned into some govt theater with idiot politicians barking
Safire complex was rudely plucked from its owners by sasikala caucus in the nineties