Shakuntalam ready for film hits

NEW DELHI, MAY 20. Much to the delight of one-time regulars at Shakuntalam theatre, the curtains will finally go up on the poor man's PVR Anupam. Generous with its screening of blockbusters, the theatre which downed shutters for renovations in January this year, is reopening on June 1.

#Billed as one of the more popular and affordable hangouts for youngsters and frequented by top government officials, the Indian Trade Promotion Organisation-run theatre closed down in the wake of reports of seepage through the roof and flaking of cement from the ceiling.

#``We had complaints of water seeping in and chunks of cement coming lose from the ceiling and thought it best to close the theatre for complete renovation before any accident happened,'' says ITPO general manager, Mr. S. H. Khan. ``Now we have a treat in store for Shakuntalam regulars,'' he promises.

#The theatre has acquired a completely new look with a renovated roof and ceiling and new wooden panels inside for the walls. The bonus, of course, is the new screen. A shift from the redstone cemented look, the theatre will now have a washed mosaic glazed treatment for its exteriors. The bathrooms too have been fitted with new tiles and other toilet accessories.

#If parking was a nightmare once, it will no longer be the case. Among the new facilities offered is allowing vehicles to be parked within the Pragati Maidan complex, after buying an entry ticket.

#To make the only air-conditioned theatre at Pragati Maidan, with a seating capacity of 367, more economically viable, it will be hired out for hosting private cultural programmes after the last film show, at 7-30 p.m. ``The theatre is being offered at half the price, to make it more economically viable,'' says Mr. Khan.

#Meanwhile, the ITPO has other plans in the pipeline, including computerisation of ticketing system and acquiring a new sound system to make it the ``the best in Delhi''.

Perhaps the only theatre to maintain a one-to-one contact with its audience, it will be send Shakuntalam regulars a list of their new releases and update them on changes happening at the theatre. The films slotted for the coming month include -- ``Miss Congeniality'', ``Crouching Tiger-Hidden Dragon'', ``Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya'', ``What Women Want'', ``Dalmations'' and ``Sweet November''.

#Constructed in 1972 for hosting cultural programmes, the theatre was first used for screening films in 1981 and has been an important centre for hosting international film festivals since then. The theatre closed down in 1993 after running into financial losses and was reopened in 1996.

#Often accused of screening blockbuster weeks after it had hit the other theatres, the problem is now being addressed seriously by the ITPO office. ``We will be trying to co-ordinate with producers and distributors to facilitate release of movies at the theatre and make up for the gap period,'' Mr. Khan assures.