Hope fades for single-screen theatres as Kiran cinema conversion put on hold
The owners of Neelam Theatre, which occasionally screened a couple of shows to mostly empty seats, along with two other theatres—Nirman in Sector 32 and Batra in Sector 37—had hoped that they would also be allowed
With the UT administrator, Banwarilal Purohit, halting the decision of the Chandigarh Heritage Conservation Committee (CHCC), which had permitted the owner of Kiran Cinema in Sector 22 to construct two commercial floors, hope has also faded for the owners of other single-screen theatres in the city.
The owners of Neelam Theatre, which occasionally screened a couple of shows to mostly empty seats, along with two other theatres—Nirman in Sector 32 and Batra in Sector 37—had hoped that they would also be allowed.
During the meeting of the Chandigarh Heritage Conservation Committee (CHCC) held on September 14, they had granted permission to the owner of Kiran Theatre to construct two commercial floors without demolishing the outer facade. Previously, they had rejected their proposal to convert the building into a multiplex. However, the UT administrator, on Friday, put the decision on hold.
Naresh Batra, owner of Batra Theatre and president of the Single-Screen Cinema Association, Chandigarh, said it is nothing but a political drama, as they are harassing the public. We were hoping that, with Kiran Theatre being allowed, we would also be permitted to convert our theatres into commercial complexes, but now our hopes have been dashed. Not only are the owners losing revenue, but the government is also losing revenue, he said.
Kiran Theatre in Sector-22 is in a heritage sector, and the theatre itself was designed by Le Corbusier’s associate Maxwell Fry in 1956.
Except for Neelam Theatre in Sector 17, the shutters have already come down on other single-screen theatres in the city. Three of these were in central Sector 17—KC Theatre, Anand Cinema and Jagat Theatre. Anand Cinema was the first to close down in the early 80s due to some violations after screening only one movie. It was the end of the show for KC Theatre in 2005, following its owner Ashok Kumar’s long-fought battle with the UT administration to convert it into a multiplex. The complex was eventually brought down. As for Jagat Theatre, it was converted into a mall in 2015 after a six-year battle over building bylaws.