Photos: Tour forgotten single-screen cinemas from across India

  • Photographer Hemant Chaturvedi has been on the road for two years, shooting single-screen cinema halls as they stand, neglected and crumbling, across India. He’s made his way across 32,000 km in 11 states so far. “In the next 25 years, most single-screen theatres will have ceased to exist. Somebody needs to document them,” he says.
Updated On Jul 11, 2021 03:02 PM IST
Copy Link
1 / 8
Inside the Capitol Theatre in Mumbai. Between the strains of competing with multiplexes and streaming platforms, and now the pressures of Covid-19, it is likely that many single-screens that hung on until 2019 will now never reopen.(Photo by Hemant Chaturvedi)
Updated on Jul 11, 2021 03:02 PM IST

Inside the Capitol Theatre in Mumbai. Between the strains of competing with multiplexes and streaming platforms, and now the pressures of Covid-19, it is likely that many single-screens that hung on until 2019 will now never reopen.(Photo by Hemant Chaturvedi)

2 / 8
At the abandoned Empire Theatre in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. India had about 20,000 operational single-screen cinemas in 2000. By 2019, that number had dwindled to just over 6,000.(Photo by Hemant Chaturvedi)
Updated on Jul 11, 2021 03:02 PM IST

At the abandoned Empire Theatre in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. India had about 20,000 operational single-screen cinemas in 2000. By 2019, that number had dwindled to just over 6,000.(Photo by Hemant Chaturvedi)

3 / 8
The overgrown sign for the abandoned Empire Theatre in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. Chaturvedi has photographed over 650 single-screen cinemas across 500 towns so far.(Photo by Hemant Chaturvedi)
Updated on Jul 11, 2021 03:02 PM IST

The overgrown sign for the abandoned Empire Theatre in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. Chaturvedi has photographed over 650 single-screen cinemas across 500 towns so far.(Photo by Hemant Chaturvedi)

4 / 8
A lone attendant sits on a deserted red carpet, while the stars look down silently from their posters, at Nishat Talkies, Mumbai.(Photo by Hemant Chaturvedi)
Updated on Jul 11, 2021 03:02 PM IST

A lone attendant sits on a deserted red carpet, while the stars look down silently from their posters, at Nishat Talkies, Mumbai.(Photo by Hemant Chaturvedi)

5 / 8
The imposing façade of Shah Cinema, Srinagar. The grand architecture of India’s surviving single-screens is evocative, Chaturvedi says, both for the grandeur it once represented and the unforgiving manner in which the world has moved on.(Photo by Hemant Chaturvedi)
Updated on Jul 11, 2021 03:02 PM IST

The imposing façade of Shah Cinema, Srinagar. The grand architecture of India’s surviving single-screens is evocative, Chaturvedi says, both for the grandeur it once represented and the unforgiving manner in which the world has moved on.(Photo by Hemant Chaturvedi)

6 / 8
One of his favourites, the unnamed cinema in the small town of Wadhwan in Gujarat is believed to have been India’s first open-air theatre. It was commissioned by the Maharaja of Wadhwan, soon after he watched the Lumière brothers work their magical cinématographe in Mumbai in 1896. This open-air theatre that it put on its first show in 1906.(Photo by Hemant Chaturvedi)
Updated on Jul 11, 2021 03:02 PM IST

One of his favourites, the unnamed cinema in the small town of Wadhwan in Gujarat is believed to have been India’s first open-air theatre. It was commissioned by the Maharaja of Wadhwan, soon after he watched the Lumière brothers work their magical cinématographe in Mumbai in 1896. This open-air theatre that it put on its first show in 1906.(Photo by Hemant Chaturvedi)

7 / 8
The Wadhwan cinema isn’t even a structure. It’s a stone wall, a large wooden gate and a small ticket window leading onto a large ground. It breaks his heart, Chaturvedi says, that so little of those times was preserved. (Photo by Hemant Chaturvedi)
Updated on Jul 11, 2021 03:02 PM IST

The Wadhwan cinema isn’t even a structure. It’s a stone wall, a large wooden gate and a small ticket window leading onto a large ground. It breaks his heart, Chaturvedi says, that so little of those times was preserved. (Photo by Hemant Chaturvedi)

8 / 8
Hemant Chaturvedi on the road. He’s planning a coffee-table book on his Single Screen Cinemas Project. In addition to photographs, it will contain stories and anecdotes from owners, ushers, security guards. That way at least the stories will live on, he says.(Photo by Sandeep Rai)
Updated on Jul 11, 2021 03:02 PM IST

Hemant Chaturvedi on the road. He’s planning a coffee-table book on his Single Screen Cinemas Project. In addition to photographs, it will contain stories and anecdotes from owners, ushers, security guards. That way at least the stories will live on, he says.(Photo by Sandeep Rai)

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, May 22, 2022