What’s this about single screen theatres of Delhi? One after another these theatres are shutting down snatching away some wonderful memories of Dilliwalahs. Majestic, Jubilee, Minerva and Jagat were theatres where the walled-city folks would walk back after a late night show and stopping on the way to treat themselves to doodh-jalebi in a kulaad from among the numerous sweet-shops on the way (and yes these Halwais would stay open that late). Then there were Archana and Chanakya (with it’s unique Side Balcony) where one would catch the Hollywood offerings. Of course there was Palace where you would go sacrificing a couple of morning classes at Delhi University week after week to catch a Dev Anand classic on ‘Red Rates’ (Reduced Rates!). Around twenty five of these theatres are gone (from a rough count of sixty five).
This week saw the closure of the iconic Regal. While a lot has been written about how Regal was a favourite of Raj Kapoor, there was one Dilliwalah who actually had his film’s last scene shot at Regal. Ashok Ahuja’s Adarshila with an ensemble cast of parallel cinema movement actors of the nineteen eighties ( Naseerudin Shah, Anita Kanwar, Pankaj Kapoor, Anu Kapoor, K K Raina and Raja Bundela) features Regal’s foyer and staircase. A part of Delhi’s heritage is getting extinguished right in front of our eyes. The remaining single screen theatres seem destined to lose it to the multiplexes till someone beefs them up. Oh! Apologies…everything that’s beef is banned!
Talking of beef brings one to the state elections. Of particular interest to the Dilliwalahs was the elections in Punjab where the Delhi’s CM staked his might. A trenchant message that this blogger got from a close friend in Jallandar immediately after the state election results of Punjab were announced summed it up wonderfully. “We are sending your guy back to Delhi. Keep him there for good.”. Wish we could keep him, or for that matter keep any politician, in Delhi for the good of Delhi.