Sometimes when I pass the PJ State Cinema, sweet childhood memories come to mind. I wish to write the article for the benefit of those who did not grow up in PJ…. that this building, located in Jalan Yong Shook Lin in front of the MBPJ main office was once a busy cinema.
I grew up during the times where cinemas such as PJ state cinema, PJ Paramount, PJ Sentosa (Section 17, Petaling Jaya) and PJ Ruby cinemas were in the heydays. There was not much source of entertainment except going to these cinemas and watching VCR video tapes.
If not mistaken, during the initial years, these cinemas were not even air conditioned. We would go with my mom, either accompanied by my late dad and grandaunt.
Often times, I was too young to understand the storyline. All I remember was running around the cinema with my brother the moment the cinema darkens and the curtain were lifted. Sometimes, other kids joined in as well. No one seemed to mind as the parents or guardians were occupied with watching the movie.
One particular outing struck at my memory. One day after my mom’s morning shift, she decided to bring both my brother and I to the movies. We took the Srijaya bus from a bus stop near our home and stopped at PJ state where she took us to the cinema.
There were roadside stalls set up outside the cinema. I remember my mom got both my brother and I ice kacang. After that, we went to PJ state to watch a movie. Looking back, my mom did her best to take us out despite being tired from work and having to do housework when she was back. Alzheimer’s had made my mom’s behaviour similar to a child and the roles are now reversed.
I only need to do a fraction of what my mom did…. at times I wonder how she was able to do so much- getting up early, cooking for the entire day even before dawn, preparing for work, taking 2 minibuses to work, going to market to buy food, come back and do housework… then drop down to bed and was asleep within a minute. Next day, repeat the process again.
We also watched Jurassic Park in PJ State cinema when it first hit the cinemas in 1993. I remembered almost all the tickets were sold out and it was packed to the brim.
Eventually, cozy and smaller air conditioned cinemas like TGV and GSC started hitting the shopping complexes. The tickets from TGV and GSC were more expensive compared to the older cinemas such as PJ State so we thought that those smaller cinemas would probably not make it. But because of the location of TGV and GSC which were often situated within shopping complexes- it made it more convenient for families, friends and courting couples to watch movies there while going shopping. Also the seats were more comfortable and the smaller areas come with better surround sound- eventually these cinemas rose in popularity.
Gradually, older cinemas like PJ State started seeing lesser customers. The movies no longer opened to a fully packed audience. Later, a popular mamak restaurant chain, Lotus was build at the cinema premise. The cinema is still around today but it mostly showed Tamil movies.
But the other cinemas in PJ similar to PJ state had already closed down. What happened to other older cinemas:
- PJ Paramount cinema has been renovated but the original structure has been retained. It is occupied by Giant Hypermarket and a 24 hour mamak restaurant.
- PJ Ruby theater- the building is left vacant
- PJ Sentosa (Section 17)- at first the building was still around, then it was later demolished to be made into a car park. Now, the Seventeen building consisting of a mall and residence is build over the structure.