Monday, 24 June 2013

A little theatre called Kok Wah at 5th mile

THIS was a wooden theatre with zinc roof and no aircon, just ceiling fans. I still remember the facade (with the big billboard) was painted a pale blue.

It was our family's favourite theatre -- even better than Paramount which was nearer to our home in Serangoon Gardens. If you waited long enough, it even screened Saturday Night Fever.

But no, our favourite movies at this theatre were the Chinese costumed ones -- sob movies where the hero and heroine (collapsed on opposite sides of a table that had a jar of poisoned wine) struggled towards each other (after drinking the wine) so that they would die together.

Or, it would be a movie showing the undersea world where the princess (a mermaid of sorts) fell in love with a human, and persisted despite the fury of her father, the underwater king. This was actually a Chinese dance movie made in China. My father said the actress was a very famous dancer in China. Her body was certainly very supple and her dance moves simulating swimming underwater were wonderful to watch. She wanted to become a human so that she could be with her lover. But for that to happen, her lover had to pluck a fish scale off her.

Kok Wah theatre was a stone throw from the old Lim Tua Tow market (commonly known as the 5th mile market). It was located on a vast sandy patch where you can park your car (for free). Nearby, also located on this vast sandy patch, was a row of stalls selling food. Our favourite stall was the dessert stall (ice-kacang, cheng tng, etc). It was an established ritual to take a bowl of dessert at this stall after a show.

One of my greatest regrets was to let a Japanese ghost movie go. I had seen the poster and the trailers -- numerous times -- and mum had promised to take me to the show. The trailer showed a woman in white flying past rooftops. Then it hovered over one roof and seemed to be pounding a nail into it (or doing something... perhaps I mixed this bit up with a pontianak trailer).

Then it turned its face to the camera -- and it was blank -- no eyes, no nose, no features whatsoever. Ahhhh, I just had to watch this movie. But somehow when we went to catch the next movie at Kok Wah, this poster had been removed.

The show must have been screened without our knowing.

Kok Wah's "pre-show"

There was a sort of a trailer which the theatre showed, each time before the real show started. This was a cartoon (probably made in China) of an old woman whose home caught fire. In her panic, she grabbed a huge melon instead of her grand child before making her escape. It was only in safety that she discovered her very sad mistake. I think this was the saddest cartoon I have ever watched.


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