I get my love for films from my father.
Ever since I was a child, he would sit me down and make me watch 2-3 films, back to back. Both of us would be glued to the tiny screen of the old Sony TV set we owned, while my mother would angrily mumble words showing her disapproval for this habit.
“I should’ve never gone for that movie with you, back in the day,” she once scoffed, looking at my father. For a curious 12-year-old whose life pretty much revolved around films, I asked her to explain this statement.
She then said, “The first time your father and I went on a date, he took me for a movie at Regal.” She couldn’t remember what film it was. But for a woman who didn’t share the same passion for films like us, she went on and on about the charm of the theatre after she had cooled off.
Since that day, Regal theatre made a place for itself in my heart as the temple all cinephiles in Delhi just had to visit.
Humbly standing among the tall buildings that have now cropped up in Connaught Place, the shabby white-walled, British-looking structure doesn’t look like a building that would have countless memories boxed in it.
When I walked into the building for the first time, I was confused about everything that my mother had told me. She spoke about this place so passionately, as if on the other side of the door lay paradise. Black and white tiles covered the floor, a magnificent twin staircase led us up, portraits of iconic movie stars decorated the flaky walls and an odd smell of something old filled up my senses.
It felt like I was at a film set from one of the old movies I had seen with my father and suddenly, I was in love with the place.
The first movie I watched there wasn’t one I remember, but the experience was something I had never imagined.
From a small, square cut-out in the wall came rays of light that projected a slightly grainy image on the screen. We took a seat near the fan to keep us cool, but the atmosphere inside the theatre was rather hot. People were excited, brimming with energy and were not even a tad bit shy to express it. From piercing whistles to loud cheers, the audience bought into the reality of the film right from its opening credits.
Ten minutes into the film, I found myself clapping and cheering, something that gets tucked under the seats of the fancy multiplexes, today.
Slowly, my visits to Regal became less frequent.
Somehow the distance between where I live and Connaught Place increased. Sometimes, it was because of the traffic, the other times, it was because of the new multiplexes that lined the path between Regal and my house.
In three days from now, the iconic Regal Theatre will draw its curtains, forever.
Movies, both hits and flops, of all genres have been screened at the Regal Theatre for 82 long years.
Now, falling prey to the rapidly modernising world, Regal will screen Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker and Sangam and bid farewell to an era that began in 1932, reports Hindustan Times.
Talks of revamping the theatre into a multiplex are doing the rounds. The building’s first and second floor has been sold to Madame Tussauds. A no-objection certificate lies with the owners.
But when the modern world will knock on the doors of Regal, the old world’s charm will be put to sleep.
Farewell Regal. You will be missed!