Friday, May 20, 2011

The joy of the single-screen theatre- Ashoka to Regal

I remember going to Ashoka Talkies, some 10-12 years back, with my family to see a film. I don’t remember the first movie on the big screen that I saw, but yes, I remember my parents telling me that in one of my maiden cinema hall visits, I had been surprised to see such a big TV! And till some years back (I think I was in Class 5 or 6 then) I actually used to believe that it was a ‘big tv’ where we saw the film! Haha…

I remember seeing some good hindi movies at Ashoka, the only good cinema hall in the whole of my hometown, including Hum Saath Saath Hain, Kal Ho Na Ho, Chori Chori Chupke Chupke and Krrish. Some years back, a TV commercial of Sprite showed a guy holding a bottle of Sprite in front of the projection window in a movie hall and the Sprite bottle was projected on to the screen where a song was in progress. The next time I went to the movie hall, I was looking for the projection hole and was actually wondering if I could repeat the Sprite ad here. Haha…it would be fun! It was not a ‘Big TV’ after all!! ;)


Going to a multiplex to watch a movie was something that I got to know just a few years back and experienced for the first time only after I came to Delhi in 2008. The Dark Knight was my first PVR experience in August 2008 at PVR Saket. Well, more than the movie, I was interested in seeing the interior of a multiplex. I was excited for the PVR experience. And seriously, although there was not much difference, I loved the experience. The hall was smaller than that at Ashoka, more than one hall was present in one building, the seats were red and not black, were surely more comfortable, their was air-conditioning instead of huge fans and yes, the interval meant nachos, flavoured popcorn and coke. One big difference was in the price of the tickets. From Rs 10 at Ashoka to at least a 100 bucks at PVR!

Over the last 3 years I have been to the PVR a few more times. I went to the PVR at Ambience Mall in May 2009, on a hostel-trip to watch Monsters vs Aliens (At the age of 17-18, watching a cartoon movie like that- well, we didn’t let anyone know about it in school. Mazaak bann jata humara!) Next was (on the recommendation of a good friend of mine by the name of ‘S.Yogesh’) The Last Airbender in July 2010 at PVR Priya (Priya was a one-hall cinema before PVR went in collaboration with it to make it PVR Priya. It still has just one hall though!). Had it not been for the 3D experience, Yogesh would have been killed by Dhruv and me that day! Haha… And then, the best one was in November 2010, when I went with Yogesh to PVR Saket to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.

In the Prohibited Area at Regal

The experiences at PVR have been great but the one experience I had ten days back, was the best and the most memorable one! I was with some of my friends from college in CP, whiling away our time. We planned (out-of-nowhere) to go and watch a movie at Regal. JustDial informed us about the prices and the timings and hearing that the tickets ranged from Rs 40 to Rs 120, we were sure that we were being fooled. Where in Delhi do you get to see a latest bollywood flick in as low a price as Rs 40? This was just 33% of the minimum price of tickets at PVR! How is it possible? Having read a recent article in Hindustan Times ‘100 years of New Delhi’ coverage, I knew Regal was built in the 1930s to cater to the needs of the elite of Delhi and had been a highly prestigious and luxurious theatre then. ‘Has the luxury all been lost?’ I wondered.

We went to Regal to confirm and yes, JustDial was correct. The one-hall theatre was screening Chalo Dilli this week. We decided to get tickets for the next show which was to begin at 6.30. The two-hour wait ended soon and the five of us entered into one of India’s most well preserved 1930s ka cinema talkie.

HT described the present state of the four theatres of New Delhi of 1930s with these lines-

The old quartet is still there, of course, but not entirely in their former glory. Plaza and Rivoli are in a joint venture with multiplex giant PVR Cinemas. Odeon, after a couple of makeovers, has now joined hands with Reliance Big Cinemas. After years of struggle for survival, they are now trying to turn things around. Only Regal hasn’t gone corporate, yet. It still has the giant hall, the framed pictures of celebrity guests and some posters of its old blockbusters. 

The description of Regal was true to what HT said. We had got ourselves seats in the balcony (a facility which PVR fails to provide) and with around 15 people in total in the 600 seater hall, we had a good time to enjoy. We did take the chance to enter the ‘Prohibited area’ of the cinema by entering the projection room. In this digital age, seeing a movie being played from the film-reel is surely something worth not-missing and when you are a media student and are actually studying how all this works, well, a practical exposure is always welcome. :)


The light humoured comedy movie did bring tears to the eyes in one of its last scenes, but when we moved out of the hall, we didn’t want to forget this single hall cinema experience in the national capital and clicking pictures as a climax, was the best we could do to keep our smiles dated forever at Regal! :)

13 comments :

  1. Ha Ha Ha............First pic was HUM AAPKE HAI KAUN night show . Perhaps in 1994 /1995 . Maa was with us. OK .Good entry .

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  2. gud 1.........bdw..believe me Ashoka is still d same...;)

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  3. nice...
    How you people managed to enter the prohibited area???

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  4. I love that day !!! The fun we had was naaaiiccee :) and you should have written about the place where our bags were kept...we almost thought we wont see them again....but... "kaunsi badi baat ho gai???"....yeah antarik ?? :D :D

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  5. great that u r getting experienced with the "practicals of ur profession"!!:)
    n u got back all those memories of "monsters vs aliens" in ambience!!remember each 1 of us throwing balls of sarcasm on the so spl person who made us see the 3D!!:p
    yet another amazingly written entry!!:)

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  6. I am planning now to remove the 'Anonymous' comment posting from here. Wouldn't it be good?
    @Shephali- Haha...i know...little scope of a change..;)
    @Anonymous #3- Well, bass good luck and guts...:)
    @Tanvi- Haha...i know...and ofcourse i can never forget ur expression...hehe...."pls tell tanvi that her bag is lost"..hahaha...:D
    @vartika- Hahaha....unforgettable she is...we were not supposed to see a "U/A" movie even!! Haha...! ;)

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  7. Wow... Mast njoy kar rahe ho... Mujhe to PVR ka v full form nahi pata...

    Nycly writtn...

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  8. i know!!No U/A vs 3D..tough choice!!!hahaha..but the day was g8!:)

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  9. @Pallabi-mujhe bhi nahi pata...hehehe...:D
    @Vartika-yup...memorable day...! :)

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  10. @Pallabi- I just found the full form from google. It is "Priya Village Roadshow"...Getting to know the fullform sparks a new blog entry idea in me...:D

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  11. nicely written...
    www.rajnishonline.blogspot.com

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