Curtains down

A look at theatres that were in Delhi

April 16, 2014 03:21 pm | Updated May 21, 2016 11:51 am IST - delhi:

Alpna cinema hall. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

Alpna cinema hall. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

Almost every day, some of us drive past them. Almost all of us fail to even acknowledge their presence. Such is the march of time. Yet there was a time in the none-too-distant past that these cement and stone buildings reverberated to the whistles and claps of cinegoers. That was when they used to play the latest action flick from Hindi cinema and the masses used to queue up in the scorching heat of the Capital to lay their hands on a movie ticket; time when Amitabh Bachchan was the king and the likes of Manmohan Desai and Prakash Mehra defined cinema.

There was a time when audiences at Kamal in Green Park could not have enough of Sholay – could they have had enough of the film anywhere at all? Just as cinegoers could not tire of waiting to get inside Alpna for watching a Dev Anand or a Rajesh Khanna flick. They were all middle class viewers who came in on their scooters with their wives and children. Occasionally, they hopped into a bus. Ironically, then the entry fare was not too different from the cost of bus DTC bus ticket.

Then there were blue collar workers, who toiled during the day, earning their livelihood by their sweat of their brow. In the evening or night, they rested their aching bodies watching escapist fare at cinema halls often located close to working class localities. Most just walked across, some pedalled their way through. For instance, Sudarshan was once a popular joint for watching movies in Gautam Nagar. Its cycle stand was once well populated. Or Kusal in Jahangirpuri, Kalamandir in Mangolpuri and Chanderlok near Chittaranjan Park.

That was then. Each of whom stands a mute witness to a bygone era today. The show is long since over, the shutters for long down. Cinegoers, meanwhile, have shifted their preferences to multiplexes. The whistles, the claps, the songs play elsewhere. It is desolation time here.

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