From the Raj Kapoor-Nargis starrer "Angarey'' way back in 1954 to superstar Amitabh Bachchan's new film "Baabul" being released this Friday, Delhi's good old Delite cinema hall has truly come a long way. And with time, it has just got bigger and better.
Renovated in less than six months at a cost of Rs. 8 crores, the 52-year-old hall that was once frequented by leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Indira Gandhi and film stars like Dilip Kumar, Ashok Kumar, Dev Anand, Nutan and Madhubala has now been converted into a multiplex theatre with two auditoria -- Delite and Delite Diamond -- that will be opened to the audiences from today.
With state-of-the-art technology, exquisite décor, a handcrafted dome, fire-proof drapery, Egyptian carpets, seats decorated with brocade fabric, brass-holders for drinks, pure leather panelling on the doors, wooden carvings and LED lights, cinema lovers are all set to get a royal experience when they step into the newly constructed 148-seater Delite Diamond.
That is not all. During the interval and even before or after a film, one could enjoy snacks, including the traditional "chuski'', in a plush cafeteria with a seating capacity of 100. No wonder the new-look Delite is "house full" for the whole of next week.
The man behind it all -- the cinema hall's Managing Director Shashank Raizada -- has left no stone unturned in embellishing the place. He imported chandeliers all the way from the Czech Republic and has used Spanish paint and stained glass to deck up the lobby. He has also installed Victorian lampposts outside the hall.
"I started work on this project in June this year and am glad I have been able to wrap it up by December. I have renovated this place with all my passion. I wanted to give my audiences a luxury experience," he says.
Luxury it indeed is, as the auditoria have special seamless film screens and advanced projectors; the hand-painted dome in Delite Diamond has about a million colour combinations; the walls of the lobby are adorned with exemplary woodwork and the washrooms are fitted with Italian marble and Spanish tiles.
"In the early 1990s, due to video piracy our theatre business had begun to decline considerably. But I did not lose hope. All along I have believed that if you give world-class facilities to the audiences then they would not like to watch a film at home," Mr. Raizada says, adding that his revamped theatre will cater to all strata of society.
"I do not have a specific target audience in mind. My multiplex is for everyone. The tickets at Delite are available at Rs. 25, 35, 50 and 80 while at Delite Diamond they are priced at Rs. 110 and 130."
Mr. Raizada, whose late father constructed the cinema hall that was once considered the tallest building of Delhi and paid a fortune to acquire it, is confident that people will not hesitate to shell out some more money. "About 30 to 40 per cent of my audience is from South Delhi, another 30 per cent is from the North Delhi. I do not think the increase in prices will affect our market." Apart from screening films, Delite -- that was adjudged "Best Theatre" for its service by the Asian Arts and Cultural Society in 1998-99 -- has also staged various national and international theatre productions in the past. -- Parul Sharma