For the past 10 years, Regal cinema had been struggling to get audiences. The last two shows in its present avatar are, however, set to draw a houseful. Over 80% tickets have been booked over the last two days for the screening of Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker and Sangam. Owners said the shows are expected to be fully booked by evening.
The 85-year-old iconic cinema in Delhi will close on March 30 and will return as a multiplex with four auditoria. The 231 seats out of the 658 that were put up for sale online were booked within 24 hours, said manager Roop Ghai. The last time it had a full house was during the release of Aamir Khan’s Dangal and Salman Khan’s Sultan.
The hall has 154 balcony seats, rear star 285, box 40 and 179 front seats.
One of the owners of the hall, Vishal Choudhary, said that he had received many requests and fan mails to screen Raj Kapoor movies as the hall was the director’s favourite. He is said to have visited the theatre regularly and hosted premieres of several films released under the banner of RK films, including Sangam that released in 1964 and Mera Naam Joker, first screened in 1970.
The hall is currently screening Anushka Sharma-starrer Phillauri and will draw curtains on Thursday with 6pm show of Mera Naam Joker and 9pm show of Sangam. Regal Theatre in Connaught Place was the first in the area back in 1932. Built by Sir Sobha Singh, it was called the New Delhi Premier Theatre in its early days.
The owners say they are trying to get clearance from the agencies for a multiplex at the same spot. “The facade will not be changed as the building is a heritage structure, but inside there will be major changes including a new design of the hall, better seats, new toilets and canteen,” said Choudhary.
The corridors and the staircase of the hall is lined with black and white photographs of actors Dev Anand, Meena Kumari, Nargis and Raj Kapoor.
“Raj Kapoor and Nargis used to spend a lot of time here. Kapoor often sat through the premieres of his films. The theatre was decorated and rituals were performed before the start of every film. Every show, then, was house full in advance for at least a week,” said manager Roop Ghai.
“We have got no-objection certificate for a multiplex from fire department and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as it is a heritage site. Our designs have been approved by Delhi Urban Arts Commission,” he told Hindustan Times.