The 84-year-old iconic theatre will shut doors on March 30.
New Delhi: Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker and Sangam will be the last two movies to be screened at Delhi’s 84-year-old Regal Cinema before its final adieu on March 30. It was known as the New Delhi Premier Theatre in its early days.
Regal’s viewership dwindled after swanky multiplexes mushroomed across the city. It has been unable to recover operating costs over the past two years. Though the architectural grandeur of the cinema hall is still visible in the high ceilings and colonial-style arches, but moviegoers now have to put up with shabby seats and poor ambience.
The single screen theatre is currently screening Anushka Sharma starrer Phillauri. On Thursday, the hall will play Mera Naam Joker in the evening at 6 pm and Sangam at 9 pm.
“The facade will not be changed as the building is a heritage structure. However, major changes will be made inside the hall, including new design, better seats, new toilets, and canteen,” said Vishal Choudhary, one of the owners of the hall, adding that the theatre is likely to be converted into a multiplex.
The cinema hall owners have acquired a no-objection certificate from the fire department and the Archaeological Survey of India as it is a heritage site. But it may take at least a year before the theatre is revamped.
Raj Kapoor is said to have hosted premieres of several films released under the banner of RK films, including Sangam (1964) and Mera Naam Joker (1970), at Regal Cinema, which was the first theatre in the Connaught Place (CP) area opened in 1932 by Sir Sobha Singh. “Raj Kapoor and Nargis would spend time a lot of time here. Kapoor often sat through the premieres of his films,” said the manager, Roop Ghai.
The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has asked the owners of CP buildings to prove structural capability. This is another reason why Regal Cinema will be getting a makeover.
The first and second floors of the Regal Building were sold to Madame Tussauds in 1996, so the famed museum could open its branch in Delhi. The ground floor remains with the owner.