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Delhi's Iconic Regal Cinema To Close Its Doors, Owner Says Business Can't Run On Sentiments

Regal, the 84-year-old cinema hall will bring down its curtains on March 31, only to return in a bigger and hopefully a better avatar.

Kriti Tulsiani | News18.com@sleepingpsyche2

Updated:March 30, 2017, 12:46 PM IST
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Delhi's Iconic Regal Cinema To Close Its Doors, Owner Says Business Can't Run On Sentiments
Regal, the 84-year-old cinema hall will bring down its curtains on March 31, only to return in a bigger and hopefully a better avatar.
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Regal, the 84-year-old cinema hall will bring down its curtains on March 31, only to return in a bigger and hopefully a better avatar. Situated at the heart of the capital, the single-screen theater has weathered many a storm in its eight-decade-long life but now, the owners feel, it's time to close the doors.

“It needs repair, maintenance and renovation. With time everything changes and it’s high time for Regal to close down and open up again in a new avatar,” says Vishal Chaudhary, one of the owners of the hall.

Built in 1932, the architecture of the movie buff’s paradise is a blend of Georgian construction style and exquisite Mughal elements. The owner admits that the building is too old and the practices too passé to withstand the growing competition in the business.

“The building has become very old and we cannot give the facilities the patrons deserve. It’s so much competition right at our throat - from multiplexes and other sources. We’ve got to upgrade and stay in the competition.”

“You can’t run business on sentiment all the time,” he adds rhetorically.

The landmark building, to be converted into a four-auditorium theater with a combined capacity of over 620 viewers, is expected to enter the renovation process in a year and a half’s time. “It’ll take some time. To make something good, it takes time and I think 1-1.5 year we should be opening up!”

“We’ve 60 per cent of the permission but haven’t finalized any deal yet,” he tells News18.com.

If it’s Regal, it has to be Raj Kapoor and a testament to this statement is the classics -Mera Naam Joker and Sangam -chosen to be screened the last day.

“Nobody can change that. It’s been Raj Kapoor’s favourite cinema,” Chaudhary states with a sense of pride.

He cites the sturdy association of Kapoors and the Regal cinema and says, “In 1932, when Regal was just opened, Raj Kapoor’s father Prithivraj Kapoor used to stage shows. And Raj as a young boy used to accompany him”.

“So when he became an actor and a director, he made sure that all his movies were released here and he used to come here personally to do all the puja,” he adds.

Ever since Delhi opened its gates for PVRs in 1997, the number of visitors to single-screen theaters began dwindling. With over 7 single-screen theaters including Lokesh, Vishal, Golcha Dam, Supreme, Samrat and Aakash Cinema closing its doors in the capital in the past one month, the situation looks grave.

Joginder Mahajan, a film distributor and treasurer, Motion Pictures Association, highlights that the hike in entertainment and property tax on cinema halls, salary and piracy are the major reasons inching these cinema halls towards the end.

“If this continues, then in the coming 6 months, 5-6 more cinema houses will shut down,” he tells us.

He also brings to notice that no steps have been taken by the Delhi government despite an official letter sent to them. “We sent a letter to Delhi CM citing our problems and received an acknowledgment, but no steps have been taken in this regard.”

“Government doesn’t stop piracy, but is instead increasing the taxes,” he rues.

| Edited by: Divya Pal
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