Regal Cinema, you will be missed! Delhiites bid goodbye to the iconic theatre | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Regal Cinema, you will be missed! Delhiites bid goodbye to the iconic theatre

Owing to a structural integrity issue, Regal Cinema in Connaught Place, the single screen theatre in Delhi has shut down. Patrons share their favourite memories of the cinema.

delhi Updated: Mar 31, 2017 10:31 IST
Aditya Dogra
From family outings and emotional connections to mid-business breaks––some Delhiites share their best memories of the cinema.
From family outings and emotional connections to mid-business breaks––some Delhiites share their best memories of the cinema. (Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)

Fondly called New Delhi’s premier theatre, Regal Cinema which opened its doors in 1932, is now a thing of the past. Owing to a structural integrity issue, the iconic single screen theatre has had to shut down. This has saddened many Delhiites who have been proud patrons. From family outings and emotional connections to mid-business breaks––some of them share their best memories of the cinema.

A hub of cultural and social change

An inside view of the 84 year-old-Regal Cinema. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)
There was just something about the theatre, it was not only a place where we could watch movies, but I remember that it was also a hub for social and cultural change.

“Very few people know how important this structure is in terms of its history. Regal has a rich cultural and architectural heritage that somehow got lost in time,” says Veena Sahare, a 76-year old historian adding, “Most youngsters might have seen a theatre that had broken seats or was not at par with their multiplex options, but for us who have seen Regal when it was the classiest option around, it is a very different story. There was just something about the theatre, it was not only a place where we could watch movies, but I remember that it was also a hub for social and cultural change. People used to gather after a show at the coffee house and discuss things, plan meetings and movements.”

Mid-business movie breaks

Poore din dhoop mein kaam karne se jab mai bore ho jaata tha to dopahar ka show yahi dekh ke aaram kar leta tha.

Sat Pal , a socks vendor who sits near Regal building says that the theatre often was his way of relaxing during mid-day breaks. “Poore din dhoop mein kaam karne se jab mai bore ho jaata tha to dopahar ka show yahi dekh ke aaram kar leta tha. Hero log asliyat mein to dekhne ka mauka nahi milta to bade parde pe hi dekh lete hai. Doosre cinema to saare mehengey hai, yeh sasta bhi tha aur saalon se mai aur kahin gaya bhi nahi(After a tiring sale day in the sun, I used to relax by watching an afternoon show at the theatre. We don’t get a chance to see actor’s in real life, so the cinema is where we saw them. All other theatres are expensive, Regal was affordable and I haven’t ever been to any other too) ,” he said.

Regal cinema in 1984 when Anupam Kher starrer Saaransh released. (HT File Photo)

It’s a family thing

With multiplexes opening up, the family then used to go to nearby theatres but my dad and I made it a point to visit Regal once in a while.

Neha Varma, a-34-year-old management professional says that visiting Regal was a family thing. “I first came to Regal for a show when I was about 5 years old. I don’t remember the movie, but I remember entering the building and noticing how beautiful it was. With multiplexes opening up, the family then used to go to nearby theatres but my dad and I made it a point to visit Regal once in a while. Me and my college friends use to skip college and see movies at Regal too,” she says.

Emotional connection

A still from Balraj Sahni starrer Garam Coat (1955)
When I recently read that the hall was shutting down, I went and saw movies like Govinda’s Aa Gaya Hero, that I actually didn’t even want to watch.

“My love for Regal began when I once trailed my elder brother to the theatre for a show of Balraj Sahni’s Garam Coat in 1955. He was a phenomenal actor and was very popular among the people of our generation. I continued to watch many shows after that; seeing Madhubala and other actors on the big screen was a feeling I can never forget. When I recently read that the hall was shutting down, I went and saw movies like Govinda’s Aa Gaya Hero, that I actually didn’t even want to watch. I have had a very emotional connect with the hall and will miss its glory days,” says Yograj Kathuria, a patron who has been visiting the theatre since he was 6 years old.

A piece of history

I think renovation se kaam bann sakta hai iska, band karne ki kya zarurat hai. Kuch Kuch puraani cheeze hi to bachi hai, unhe bhi khatam kar dengey to Dilli ki actual history ka kuchh bachega hi nahi

Aman Jain, a 18 year old DU student, saw his first show in Regal on 25th March. “When I heard the news and the buzz around it, four-five of us from college decided to check it out. “The theatre is clearly not at its best, and I can somehow understand why it is being shut down. Parents se suna tha kaafi iske baare mein aur jab dekha to thodi puraani feel zaroor aayi. I think renovation se kaam bann sakta hai iska, band karne ki kya zarurat hai. Kuch Kuch puraani cheeze hi to bachi hai, unhe bhi khatam kar dengey to Dilli ki actual history ka kuchh bachega hi nahi,” he says.

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