One of the earliest cinema halls of Independent India, Sudarshan in Delhi's Gautam Nagar made way for a residential area under time's duress.
Gone are the hoardings announcing the latest flicks, attracting eyes from all and the teenager dreams weaved thereon. What remains are the restored residential buildings showing no hint of a cinematic existence. What once used to be an escapade of entertainment is just another market-cum-residential complex in New Delhi's Gautam Nagar. The lively environment and brisk business that once characterised the area are all missing. A residential area has come up where once the theatre stood, once famously known as Sudershan Cinema Road behind All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
“One of the first cinema halls of Independent India, Mohini theatre was built in 1952 by Rai Sahib Gautam, after whom the area is named . After the death of his daughter Mohini, Rai Sahb, in 1954, sold the cinema hall to Brij Lal Chawla, an immigrant from Pakistan with a full-fledged business based in Delhi. After minor alterations, it was restarted as Sudarshan. My father bought this small shop in 1952 and it has been the same ever since but Sudarshan is long gone,” enlightens Kamal Gupta, owner of the legendary tea stall in the building.
A moment of glory the area experienced is long forgotten with its entity. “Not many people know about this, but Jawaharlal Nehru, along with other Parliamentarians, had watched a movie in Mohini. I was a child then and was very excited to see Nehru in person,” reminisces Gupta.
While some cinema halls in the city, like Kamal cinema in Green Park, had received the tag of obsoleteness way back in the '90s, Sudarshan held itself creditably amidst the crisis for some time. It used to run serious cinema in its morning shows. The Sanjay Khan starrer Mela celebrated its silver jubilee here.
“The onset of the tape and torrent technology saw a decline in demand at the ticket counters, thereby leading to a forcible closure of the cinema hall,” says O.P. Kapoor, owner of the Maruti showroom, which replaced the hall.
And as they say, life never stops for anybody. Sudarshan cinema is no more but cinema and its audience have moved on to findspace somewhere else.