‘House-full’ last show brings curtains down at Regal Theatre

Shubhang Chauhan
"All shows were booked for today," manager Roop Ghai told PTI. He said it was a difficult moment for the Regal family but it was something that could not have been avoided.

New Delhi, Mar 30:  After entertaining film lovers for more than eight decades, Regal Theatre signed off in style with a ‘house-full’ last show of Raj Kapoor’s 1964 movie “Sangam” tonight.The cinema hall, which opened in 1932, once hosted personalities like then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, his daughter Indira Gandhi and megastar Amitabh Bachchan.

“All shows were booked for today,” manager Roop Ghai told PTI. He said it was a difficult moment for the Regal family but it was something that could not have been avoided.

“Yes, it is the end of an era but this is how it is.” Ghai is not sure about the future of the 15-odd people employed at the theatre but hopes that the owners retain the old staff once Regal returns as a multiplex.

“I have worked here as accountant for almost half the time this theatre was functioning,” said accountant Amar Singh Varma.

The grandeur and magic of the bygone era is still visible in the corridors of the building, which are decorated with the black-and-white images of cine stars Nargis, Madhubala, Meena Kumari, Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor. When asked what films he has watched in the theatre, a misty-eyed Varma said, “I am a huge fan of Raj Kapoor and I don’t like watching films that are being made today.”

One would expect for a theatre as old and loved as the Regal to go out with some pomp and show. But the staff had an intimate lunch as their ‘bidaai’ (farewell). Varma said people do not wish to come to such cinema halls anymore.

“Nobody cares. So, it gets difficult for us to survive in the changing market. Now, only the government can do something to preserve whatever is left of the single screens in the country. If they will not cut down the taxes, I don’t see single screens sustaining for long.”

Earlier in the day, veteran actor Rishi Kapoor took to Twitter to bid an emotional goodbye to Regal.
“Demolish. Adios Regal Theatre, Delhi. A place where all the Kapoor’s theatre and cinema work was seen. Had ‘Bobby’ premiered there too! Thank you!,” the actor posted on Twitter alongside a picture of the iconic cinema hall.