Sri Sitaram Vilas Talkies (SSVT) in Berhampur is the first cinema hall of Odisha. Many dignitaries including former President of India VV Giri, who belonged to Berhampur, have visited the theatre.
A.B. Chetty founded the SSVT in 1927. Ganjam was a part of Madras Presidency then. “SSVT screened India’s first silent film Raja Harishchandra made by Dada Saheb Phalke. The first talkie Alam Ara directed by Ardeshir Irani also was screened.
The theatre then had a thatched roof and also was a regular venue for staging Telugu dramas. The first Oriya film Sita Bibaha, produced by Mohan Sunder Deb Goswami, came in 1934, seven years after SSVT opened.
A commentator was entrusted with the job to give running commentary on the scenes of the silent movies screened during those days. He used to sit near the screen and explain the viewers in a dramatic style.
The hall was modernised over the years. The old projector was replaced by a 35mm machine from London. The thatched roof was replaced by a concrete one. The sitting capacity of the hall was reduced from 1,000 to 600 to provide more comfort to the viewers and also to compete with other competitors before it was closed in 1999.
The devastation of the super cyclone completely ruined the first cinema hall in Odisha and forced it to shut down in October 1999.