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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Delhi’s historic Regal Cinema is on its journey to reclaim its glorious past

The iconic single screen cinema hall will be back as a cultural intermingling zone along with state of the art cinema viewing technology.

delhi Updated: Jun 14, 2017 18:27 IST
Shara Ashraf
Shara Ashraf
Hindustan Times
Delhi’s iconic  theatre Regal Cinema that shut down in April, is going to be relaunched as a multiplex.
Delhi’s iconic theatre Regal Cinema that shut down in April, is going to be relaunched as a multiplex.(Shara Ashraf/HT Photo)

Delhi’s iconic single screen theatre, Regal Cinema that shut down in April, is going to be relaunched as a multiplex. The owners want to turn Regal into a one -of- its- kind junction of cinema, art, culture and history. It will be a place where you’ll not only come to watch a film, but you will be told the story of this historic theatre; its splendid past and its unique transformation. “We are working on some very interesting plans. In its transformed state, Regal will be a receptacle of culture, fit for the digital era. Through audio-visuals and art work, we will add layers of history to your experience of watching a movie every time you visit Regal”, says Vishal Chaudhary, owner, Regal Cinema.

Heritage conservation architect Smita Datta Makhija who is working on the restoration project says that while other old theatres look like as if they belong to contemporary times, Regal has been very fortunate to retain the authenticity of design and the authenticity of the design. “I am very lucky as an architect to be working on this project. Architecturally, Connaught Place was connected to the Imperial City in an interesting manner. What we call the Rajpath today was the Kingsway, perpendicular to that was the Queensway, which hit the central circus of Connaught Place and Regal was located just off the central circus. So a very prime position in Connaught Place was attributed to the site,” she says.

The design of the grand theatre was done by Walter Sykes George, an English architect. “He had an amazing ability to visualise the space three dimensionally. It is the sequencing of space that he managed wonderfully,” says Makhija.

Makhija says that it’s important to re-establish Regal as a cultural intermingling zone. “People came here beautifully dressed in horse-drawn carriages. The zones of entry were amazing. First, you had the portico, where you had a drop of activity happening, then you entered the hallway, and then came the grand pre-function zone – the grand hall. We want to ensure that every person who walks into Regal relives this experience. We will reinforce the memory of the glory of this place and at the same time provide state- of- the- art cinema viewing experience,” she says.

Just before closing down, Regal took Delhiites on a major trip down the memory lane. It screened two of Raj Kapoor’s iconic films, Sangam and Mera Naam Joker. It was a house full once again. Hundreds thronged the theatre with their loved ones to relive their favourite memories one last time. The hall brimmed with emotions as Raj Kapoor fans sang, danced and paid a tribute to their favourite actor.

It’ll be a long wait before Regal is restored. At this stage, one can’t tell how the new Regal will look like. While attempts are being made to retain its original look, certain things will change forever. The VIP boxes and the dress circle will be gone. Swanky recliners will replace the numbered metal seats. The single screen and the adjacent stage that has played host to iconic Bollywood actors in the last eight decades will be brought down. And yet, Regal will continue to be one of the most stunning reminders of Connaught Place’s opulent past.

HT City became a part of Regal’s historic journey as we did the first ever fashion shoot in the theatre. There couldn’t have been a better backdrop than Regal to re-create Bollywood’s iconic looks. Models showcasing Nargis, Raj Kapoor, Sadhna and Asha Parekh’s famous looks walked down the theatre’s aisle and brought a bygone era to life.

Here is the video:

First Published: Jun 14, 2017 18:16 IST

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