A landmark of British Rule, the iconic structure built in the heart of the city, renowned movie theatre Regal Cinema is all set to close down, but shall return as the modern-day multiplex cinema. The 84-year-old movie hall in Connaught place is going to shut down by the end of this month i.e on 31 March 2017 with the last screening of Anushka Sharma-starrer 'Phillauri'.
One of the owners of the hall, Vishal Choudhary, said that he has applied for the permission to open a multiplex in the heritage building and has got 60% of the proposal cleared. “We have got the no-objection certificate 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, It will, however, take at least a year before the work begins as we have to take permission from several other departments and it takes a long time to finish these things” he told Hindustan Times.
Choudhary also said that they didn’t want to take any chances after the collapse of some buildings in the Connaught Place recently. The New Delhi Municipal Council has asked the owners of buildings in the area to prove structural capability. This is one of the reasons why he decided to close the theatre and rebuild it
When asked the NDMC chairman Naresh Kumar, he admitts to HT, “They have already applied for the required permission to run a multiplex in the Regal Building. We haven’t given the nod yet. However, if the building is not fit enough for a single screen, how can it house multiple screens.”
The hall, which opened in 1932 and fondly calls itself "New Delhi's premiere theater", will turn itself into history. The owner of the theatre said it was time to fold up Regal as they had not been making money for many years now. “Business has been down for a decade and last month’s collection of the movie Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya was also not very good. Half the money we get from the tickets goes to the distributor. It costs us over Rs 2 lakh a week to run a show,” he adds.
According to reports, the first and second floors of the Regal Building were sold to Madame Tussauds in 1996. Anshul Jain, Director of Merlin entertainments (India), announced that the 23rd branch of Madame Tussauds is all set to open on two floors of the building. The ground floor remains with the owner for the commercial purpose by rebuilding it to a Multiplex.
This heritage cinemaplex has lead great movements in the past which saw the queer activism, first came out in 1998. On December 7 filmmaker Deepa Mehta and 30 activists had held a historic candlelight vigil in defence of her film 'Fire' outside the Regal Cinema building. A tale of two women who discover the joys of queer love. The protest at Regal Cinema became the site of the first-ever public show of solidarity for the LGBTQ community.
The number of visitors to single screen cinemas has been dwindling ever since Delhi’s first multiplex, now called PVR Priya, opened in Vasant Vihar in 1997. The subsequent development of multiplexes and malls in every corner forced the smaller single-screen theatres to shut down.
Regal Cinema, indeed has a great impact on our lives as it had been a major spot for many cinema lovers in the past. Transforming the building into the modern-day multiplex might seem suitable to its management for now but Regal will surely be a part of cinematic history as one of the gorgeous single-screen cinema halls.