How often in life there is fond memory about a thing, place or the dish that one is part of earlier on in the life. How often we crave for the good times. Times that were spent idling with friends, that useless chatter that had the world of fun in it. That nostalgia, that unending nostalgia that wants us to crave for the good old times. All the time.
Growing up before the advent of multiplexes, if one wanted to catch a movie, it would invariably have to be at a big single screen theatre. The kind of single screen theaters that the multiplexes are sounding a death knell for. For quite sometime now I was having an insatiable nostalgic pang for catching up a movie in those old world theatres.
The opportunity was provided when a chance news revealed that the grand old theatre in Delhi, namely the Regal has succumbed to the pressures of modernism and has decided to shut itself down. Now Regal is no ordinary theatre. An 85 year old entity it has seem great days with the Prime Minister of India Jawaher Lal Nehru along with many famous artists led by none other than Raj Kapoor being its famous patrons. Located in the heart of Delhi in a colonial style building the theatre has won many a hearts. The walls of the theatres are still adorned by the old time black and white photographs of the yester year artists like Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Meena Kumari, Madhubala amongst others.
Around 25 years back one of my major successes in life (atleast till that point) was celebrated by treating my friends to a show of “Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikander” at the mighty Regal. This was a movie about the sport of cycling which is very dear to me and has always provided me with a strong nostalgic dose for Regal. So here was I, on the 30th of March 2017, catching the last day show in Regal, trying to re-live the nostalgia.
Everything that day was from a bygone era. The ticket counter, the setup, the confession stand, in short everything. It was like time travel. Just that it was real. For past 20 years I have not experienced the setup that awaited me. The old winding staircases adorned with black and white photographs sang a story to the golden years of Hindi cinema. The concession stand with its old style samosas and the espresso coffee machine lend itself to the overall décor impeccably.
For all the overwhelming nostalgia, the exhibit was a huge letdown. The picture quality was grainy and the colors were too saturated to provide any sort of reasonable viewing experience. The huge fans on all sides of the auditorium while managing to keep the temperature down, however ended up making the finer dialogues a tedious thing for the viewers to listen and appreciate. The cleanliness or the lack of it was certainly appalling at this age and time and so indeed was the comfort provided by the seating space.
In a nutshell, I was happy to be part of the nostalgic experience. Not only I got to see a movie at a single screen theatre after a long time, but the fact that it was at Regal made it more memorable. At the same time, due to the neglect of the theatre by the authorities, I heaved a huge sigh of relief that the better half was not there with me. Although it is sad, however it was fairly obvious that the time had come for the shutdown as the best days of the theatre are clearly behind it. As the curtains came down with Raj Kapoor legendary ‘Joker’ character in Mera Naam Joker singing
Jane kaha gaye wo din, Kahte the teri rah me
Najaro ko hum bichhayenge
Chahe kahi bhi tum raho, Chahenge tum ko umarbhar
Tum ko na bhul payenge
Nostalgia or No Nostalgia, the place deserved the shutdown till the time somebody could come up with something more worthy of Raj Kapoor and its patrons.