There are many monuments in Delhi. This one is one of a kind too. There was a time when lots of single screen theaters did good business in Delhi. Many reason that the multiplexes edged the single screens out. But that is highly illogical and just does not happen. At worst, both may end up catering to different spectrum of the audience and still do good business.
It’s seriously expensive to watch a movie in the multiplexes. I refuse to believethat the single screen’s audience just stood up and walked into the PVRs with their hundred rupee popcorn buckets. There must be something else at play here. May be, they could not play the new digital formats that the movies are released in. May be, the city officials shut them down due to safety hazards, especially after what happened at Uphaar Cinema.
Not all of them went bust, I guess. Batra Cinema in Mukherjee Nagar, where we watched all our student year movies, is one. Amba is another. There is a Batra in New Friend’s Colony. I have watched a couple of movies at Sapna in GK. I am sure there are quite a few more in the city that I have never been to. I don’t miss them. May be, they were not even culturally important. The buildings were not architectural wonders or had anything to with heritage.
But, they still catch your eye. This one is in Old Delhi, Cinema Excelsior. How can something with a name like that ever close? I can open a cassette shop with that name and still keep it open. The cinema has closed, the building has not. It was dark, the gate was slightly open. As I was taking photos, a guy crawled out. I wanted to go in and see the building from inside, the stairs and to check if the hall still has any chairs. Empty theaters have been depicted as both romantic and haunted places. Interesting, anyway.
You can still see posters of movies from the seventies on the outside walls. Sholay, Inquilab, Nirbhay, Takkar..I may not be interested in the movies, but someday, I will get in.