Baahubali, the mighty warrior, has felled a new victim – the iconic Shiela Cinema -- the latest single screen theatre in Delhi to shut down.
Fifty-six years after it was set up, Shiela downed its shutters on Friday.
It faced financial losses, compounded by not being given the rights to screen “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion”, which shattered records on it opening day.
“We have been shut since yesterday. We were running at a loss and it was getting difficult for us to maintain the theatre,” Shiela Cinema owner Uday Kaushik told PTI.
Kaushik said the closure was on the anvil, but “Baahubali 2” might have given the hall a temporary lease of life.
“The plans for shutting the cinema were, however, on for a while,” he said.
The legendary theatre in central Delhi’s Paharganj, established in January 1961, was among the 65 theatres that had failed to get the right to screen “Baahubali 2”.
Shiela was the first cinema in the country to have a 70 mm screen. One of the biggest single screen cinema halls with a seating capacity of 980, it was also known for its trendy interiors in when it had opened.
Amitabh Bachchan would often visit the cinema for the premiere of his movies.
“Had we screened the film, we would have been able to generate some revenue. But it was not a major reason. It was really a question of when we would shut down,” Kaushik said.
The last film it screened was the Hollywood hit “The Fate of the Furious”, which ran well, he added.
Shiela’s closure comes a month after another iconic theatre, Regal, shut shop on March 30.
But Sheila’s exit was quiet, unlike Regal’s grand closure, which saw a houseful theatre on its last day with the screening of actor-director Raj Kapoor’s films -- “Mera Naam Joker” and “Sangam”.
Kaushik said he was already looking forward to turning Shiela into a multiplex. Several single screen halls in the city – including Plaza, Odeon, Sangam, Satyam and Rivoli -- now operate with multiple screens.
“We want to turn Shiela into a multiplex. That is definitely an option. But we will take some time for that. We have a large plot and we are planning to have at least 10 screens,” he said.
Film distributor Joginder Mahajan, who is the treasurer of the Motion Pictures Association in Delhi and UP, said several factors together led to the closure.
“There are many reasons such as high property tax, high entertainment tax and piracy. But had Shiela got ‘Baahubali’, they might have been able to generate some revenue and continue for some time,” he said.
Around 50 theatres in Delhi and UP have downed their shutters in the last decade.
Golcha cinema, another landmark in the city’s theatre history, has already shut down. There is speculation that it will be converted into a multiplex.