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Swamikannu Vincent

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Name  Swamikannu Vincent

Samikannu Vincent was the first person to build a cinema theater in South India. He built the Variety Hall (now Delite Talkies) in Coimbatore in 1914.


Early Days

Samikannu Vincent was born on April 18, 1883. He was born in Coimbatore. He was working in South Indian Railway as a draftsman-clerk. He happened to see some short films exhibited by French film exhibitor named DuPont. Vincent befriended him and by the time when DuPont wanted to return home, Samikannu Vincent raised enough money with difficulty to buy the Frenchman's projector, accessories and films. At the age of 22, he resigned his desk job and set up business as film exhibitor. He travelled to villages to exhibit the films he had. The film "Life of Jesus" became a huge hit in the "tent cinema" where he projected his films.


During 1905, electric carbons were used in motion picture projector. During the same year Samikannu Vincent established his first tent cinema at Madras called Edison's Grand Cinemamegaphone on Esplanade. At that time it was a novelty to watch films in this tent theater. The electrically lit tent drew large crowds. He travelled with his tent cinema to different parts of the world like Malaysia and Singapore. Aware of the advantages of brick and mortar cinema house, he built one in his home town in 1914 called Variety Hall.

Association with Cinema

In 1933, Pioneer film company Calcutta and Samikannu Vincent co-produced "Valli". Since there was also a similar production was in progress in Bombay, the Calcutta version was named as Valli Thirumanam. It had T.P. Rajalakshmi playing the lead role and went on to become a huge hit. He also later co-produced "Sampoorna Harichandra" and "Subhadra Parinayam". When the historic Central Studio was inaugurated in 1937, Samikannu Vincent joined the team as one of the directors. Besides production he was also involved in equipment distribution and theater management. He was also known for first introducing talkie equipment for his theater in Coimbatore beating madras

Other Notable Works

By 1919, he established the first power-driven Rice and Flour Mill in the heart of the town. He managed all this by working as long as nine hours a day, until his sons took over. In 1922, the then Government of Madras gave him permission to supply electric power to the famous Stanes European High School. With the encouragement of Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyer, member of the Governor's Executive Council in charge of the Electricity portfolio, he was given enough support by the government. His application was approved and the licence to set up a power house was granted. The streets of Coimbatore and the residential buildings in the heart of the city had electric lights.

Realising the need for a printing press to produce quality handbills and other materials, he promoted the printing press (around 1916) that was located in a house near his theatre. He expanded the activities of the press by installing additional machinery, types and printing accessories in another building. Called Electric Printing Works, he used the cinema house's electric power plant to run the printing press too and created history of sorts.


Samikannu Vincent died in 1942


His birthday is celebrated as Cinema theater day.


Swamikannu Vincent Wikipedia

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