2011 Photo Contest, Arts and Entertainment, 1st prize

At a Tent Theater Near You


Amit Madheshiya

24 November, 2010

Patrons of a traveling cinema watch a film at a night screening.

About the photographer

Amit Madheshiya

Amit Madheshiya is a graduate in English literature from Hindu College, New Delhi, India. He works as an independent photographer and is based in Mumbai. For his work on the trav...

Background story

Mekhar, Maharashtra, India

A patron of a traveling cinema watches a film at a night screening. Nomadic cinemas travel to remote villages in India, far from fixed-site theaters. Films are shown in large tents, often using makeshift equipment, with the audience seated on the ground. Although India is home to the most prolific movie industry in the world, producing around 800 films a year, it has one of the lowest ratios of screens to population – 13 screens per million people. The traveling cinemas show mixed fare, including regional language films, Bollywood blockbusters and Hollywood movies, but they are facing a fight for survival as DVDs become more easily accessible and cable networks penetrate further into the country.

Amit Madheshiya speaks about the project:
"In the world of the traveling tent cinemas, what I have found most fascinating are the unique individual associations that the patrons share with these cinemas. Since the arrival of cinema in these villages over six decades ago, it has evolved to become an integral part of their daily lives, now profoundly rooted in their cultural milieu, bound with a sense of belonging to a shared past. Through this lived association, the annual visit of the cinema companies, post the harvest, is celebrated boisterously, budgeted for and deeply revered. In turn, the traveling cinemas continue to enchant their patrons, providing them their annual big-screen experience. Such audience associations were small serendipitous discoveries for me over three years of my engagement with the cinemas. And exploring such associations appealed to me as the most engaging way to tell the story of these traveling tent cinemas. I photographed the audience as they had established that cherished bond with their cinemas and in that intimate moment I have been trying to find an idiom that is universal to patrons of cinema."

Technical information

Shutter Speed
1.0 s
Focal length
70 mm
Canon EOS 5D Mark II

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