Delhi’s 85-year-old Cinema Theatre bids adieu with Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker

Mar 30, 2017 14:30 IST

Delhi’s iconic theatre, Regal cinema hall has decided to bring its curtain down after a golden run of 85 years. The hall will close its doors today, on 30 March 2017.

Heeding to the request of the fans, the owners of the hall decided to screen Raj Kapoor’s classics Mera Naam Joker and Sangam as its closing shows.

 Regal Cinema Shuts

The hall was reported to be one of the favourites of the legendary actor. He is said to have visited the theatre regularly and even hosted several premiers released under the RK films banner including Sangam and Mera Naam Joker, which released in 1964 and 1970 respectively.

Key Highlights

• The theatre that is currently playing Anushka Sharma- starrer "Phillauri" will be screening "Mera Naam Joker" in the evening at 6 pm and "Sangam" at 9 pm.

• The theatre owners are planning to give it a makeover and return with a four-auditorium multiplex.

• Over 80 per cent of the seats have already been booked for the theatre’s last two shows.

• The 231 seats out of the 658 that were put up for sale online were booked within 24 hours.

• The last time the theatre had a full house was during the release of Aamir Khan’s Dangal and Salman Khan’s Sultan.

• Overall, the cinema hall has 154 balcony seats, 285 rear star, 40 box and 179 front seats.

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About the Iconic theatre

• Built by Sir Sobha Singh in 1932, it was New Delhi’s biggest and grandest theatre, a much-preferred venue for ballets, plays and talkies

• It was called the New Delhi Premier Theatre in its initial days.

• The theatre was decorated and rituals were performed there before the start of every film.

• Every show screened then was house full in advance for at least a week.

 Regal Theatre

• It was also the most-sought after theatres for red carpet premieres of Hollywood and Bollywood movies.

• The Clarke Gable-starrer film ‘Gone with the Wind’ that swept the Oscars had its India premiere at Regal in 1940.

• The corridors and the staircase of the theatre are lined with black and white photographs of actors Dev Anand, Meena Kumari, Nargis, and Raj Kapoor.

• The cinema hall also had a great association with Prithviraj Kapoor. He used to perform all his plays in the theatre.

 Rishi Kapoor

The Makeover

• According to one of the theatre owners, Vishal Choudhary, the talks are still on for its makeover and it may take them a year or so to start the renovation work.

• They have received a no-objection certificate for the project from the fire department as well as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as it is a heritage site.

• Their designs have also been approved by the Delhi Urban Arts Commission.

• Elaborating more on the subject, Choudhary stated that though they have acquired 60 per cent of the permissions required, they are still yet to finalise a deal with any of the multiplex chains.

• He added that the building being a heritage structure will not see much change from the outside but inside it will include a new hall, better seats, new toilets and canteen.

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Explaining the main reason behind the theatre’s shutting down, Choudhary stated that they had not been making money for many years now. The business had been down for almost a decade and even last month’s release, Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya could not help the theatre perform well, he added.

Another major reason was the building’s old structure. With the collapse of some buildings in Connaught place recently, the owners were unwilling to take any more chances.

While it may or may not be re-born as a multiplex, the old theatre as Delhiites remember it will be gone forever.

 

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