End of a Regal era

As the iconic Regal Cinemas had its last screening on Thursday, cinephiles were seen getting nostalgic.

The shows at the 85-year-old iconic Regal Cinemas located in the heart of the national capital ended with films of the ‘Showman of Indian cinema’. On Thursday, when the single-screen theatre hall screened Mera Naam Joker and Sangam as its last two shows, cinema lovers started making a beeline at the counter since morning. For its loyal visitors, Regal and Raj Kapoor is too good a combination to be missed. Moreover, they wanted to relive their memories one last time before Regal shut shop.

Delhiite Inderjit Singh Suri came with his friend Kailash Verma, both sexagenarian, to see the Raj Kapoor classics. The nostalgia was palpable as Suri said, “Are you aware that many Hollywood and Bollywood movies used to have their premier shows and that Privthiraj Kapoor actually used to stage plays here? We have been coming here for the last 50 years. We go to multiplexes also, but there is something about Regal that kept us pulling towards it. Walking this lane in CP sans Regal will never be the same.”

Rishi Kapoor gets nostalgicRishi Kapoor gets nostalgic

Nandita Raman, a New York-based artist considered herself fortunate that she was in Delhi to see the theatre before it closed down. “In 2007, I did a photo project on Delhi theatres and at that time I spent a considerable amount of time with the two projectionists of Regal. And believe me they weren’t here for money, they just wanted to be part of the cinema business somehow because they loved cinema. It’s the kind of culture that you can only find in single screens. I don’t know if they will allow me inside when I come here next,” she said before buying an afternoon show’s ticket for a beggar.

Karan GuptaKaran Gupta

Most customers had lined up to buy tickets of Mera Naam Joker and Sangam but since they were evening and night shows respectively, the tickets were available at counter only after 5.30 pm. The online tickets were sold out and thus, many were left dejected after not getting the tickets. Some decided to see Phillauri instead. “Singleplex ki hooting mein film dekhne ka mazaa hee aur hai,” said Neelam Gaba, a government employee, who brought her colleague Dimple along. There were youngsters like Karan Gupta as well, who took the first half off just to be able to see a film at the hall. “I feel like I just contributed in its great legacy and have a Regal ticket to show everyone,” he said as he left the movie midway to rush to his office.

Nandita RamanNandita Raman

For the employees, it was a bittersweet moment. As Roop Ghai puts it, “I am feeling the importance of being a manager almost after 20 years. I have been getting calls from police officers, fire department officials and eminent doctors asking for tickets, since yesterday. Agar aisa hi demand hamesha hota, Regal bandh hi nahi hota.” While some were worried that they had to look for new jobs from Monday, others wanted to make the most of the last few hours with long-time colleagues.

Regal shut down to repair and renovate and return as a multiplex. “The process is on and hopefully we will return as a multiplex after a year or two. Singleplexes are hardly making any money, so to close it was a business call. It’s the media hype that has got the footfall soaring,” said Vishal Chaudhary, a co-owner.

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