Where a balcony seat is still Rs 30
- Sreesanth, Jiju Janardhan lived in independently booked rooms: Cops
- India to convey concerns over Ladakh incursion to Chinese Premier
- IPL 2013 LIVE SCORE: Maxwell falls early in stiff run-chase
- Narendra Modi: India losing sheen as agricultural nation
- Rajapaksa slams Tamil diaspora for lack of support in reconciliation process
As technology replaces old cultures with new, the sites of culture also change. The cinema houses of Old Delhi, which used to be centres of culture and entertainment, now struggle to survive. Their patrons have changed and new trends in the industry have made them obsolete. Looking at Cinema Excelsior in Chawri Bazar and Imperial Theatre in Paharganj, one can imagine the times when they attracted big crowds.
If the angry young man from the seventies looks rather timid on your TV screen and you wish to see a larger-than-life Amitabh Bachchan fighting the evil Gabbar Singh or Vijay in Deewar, all you need to do is take a Metro to Chawri Bazar. Hardly 500 metres away is a green double-storey building. A board above the shuttered gate of the hall says 'Cinema Excelsior' in English and Urdu. This is the place where you can watch old and long-forgotten masala movies.
Built as a theatre for drama, it was converted into a cinema hall in the late 1930s. Cinema Excelsior is one of the few functional halls to have witnessed the silent era of Indian movies. The seats are wooden with thin strips of worn leather, fans hang from the tin roof-top and cats sneak in through the windows — an odd sight for the multiplex goer.
The hall was built in 1937 by Dev Dutt Chitnis on property owned by a trust run by Nawab Umar Hasan Khan and Nawab Humayun Kamal Hasan Khan. It had a seating capacity of 565, but after the Uphaar tragedy, 100 seats were removed for safety reasons. There are three shows a day and the film changes every third day. Rights for the shows are usually taken from several distributors whose offices are at Bhagirath Palace in Chandni Chowk.
The Imperial Theatre in Paharganj was built by the Soni family in 1930. They were influential builders from Rajasthan and the eldest son was attracted to the lavish lifestyle of the British. Originally known as Royal Cinema, talkies began to be screened here only by 1933. "Movies didn't always begin on time, and those waiting would be entertained by dancing girls," says K C Soni, 77, the third-generation manager and grand nephew of the founder of the hall.
- Destitute, orphan students outclass rest in Andhra Class 10 exams
- To re-energise ties, PM wants to visit US, waits for confirmation
- NIA court says no terror link, frees 'Hizbul militant' Liyaqat on bail
- CBI arrests its coal allotments investigator on bribery charge
- ‘Cricketer-bookie Amit may have used Jiju to reach Sree’
- BCCI chief N Srinivasan says police must prove spot-fixing allegations