“End of a Regal era”

From tomorrow the show will go on, but without New Delhi’s Premier cine monument, the Regal theatre.
Life is ironic. It is when we near an end that we return to people and places for one last time reminiscing all that they meant to us and all that we left behind. Today as time unapologetically swallows yet another city landmark and draws it’s curtains down on the 85 year old Regal cinema it is time to go down that memory lane one last time and celebrate it.

Here are some interesting events and times this vintage theatre bore witness to.

It is hailed as the birthplace of the first public show of solidarity for the  LGBTQ movement in the city when on December 7 of 1998, filmmaker Deepa Mehta and 30 activists had held a historic candlelight vigil in defence of her film ‘Fire’ outside the Regal Cinema building. 

Upto the 1960s you could take an ikka or a tonga from Old Delhi for 25 paise. “You never said ‘I want to go to Connaught Place’, you said ‘I want to go to Regal,’” recalled Salam. In his book on the Capital’s single cinema halls, ‘Delhi 4 Shows’. It was once patronised by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru.

With the decision to screen ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’, in 1978, the cinema courted controversy for the first time. Regal was among the first theatres in the country which agreed to screen the film.. As per filmi legend, the owners actually conducted a havan to appease the powers above.

In another first, Regal was the only cinema that agreed to host art house films in the 1970s and 1980s, at a special morning show. Regal was the first choice of distributors, exhibitors and film stars when it came to the release of their films.

It was a favorite of Raj Kapoor and as it screens the showman for one last time it epitomizes the Joker’s eternal dialogue “the show must go on”, and it will go on as life always does. Only ghostly shadows of nostalgia will linger on just for a while and yes, Shashi was there and we were there too.

– by Bela Upadhyay.

Pictures by : #socialbaazibegum

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