Relics of the bygone days

Just about half a kilometre from my place, stands a dilapidated building which till a decade ago was a grand, imposing structure. The happening place, which once upon a time was bustling with activity, now looks sleepy. I am not talking about any historical monument but the neighbourhood cinema hall which has lost its glory in the time of multiplexes.

There was a time when the neighbourhood theatre, like any other cinema hall, used to be a huge crowd-puller. I remember the time when people used to  throng the theatre on week-ends and holidays. Fridays, when new movies are released, saw maddening crowd. With long queues at the ticket window, buying ticket for a new movie was a Herculean task. Any time ‘House full’ board could be put up and you were in for disappointment. Tickets were sold out at the ticket counter but of course, could be bought in black at a premium. In sync with the general economic scenario, there was a thriving black market of the tickets for new movies. Times have changed now; getting tickets is not an issue any longer. There is no hustle and bustle, no crowd at the theatre. Even on holidays the cinema hall gives a deserted look.

Undoubtedly, multiplexes have sounded the death knell of the old-style huge cinema halls which have now become the relics of the bygone days. But long before the cinema halls started losing their popularity to multiplexes, the crowd at the traditional theatres started thinning with the entry of VCRs in middle-class Indian homes. That was the time when video libraries sprang up all over the city doing brisk business of renting out video cassettes of movies, old and new. During that period video piracy was at its peak. The pirated copies of the movies hit the market even before the film was released. It became fashionable to watch movies in the comfort of home and, of course, at much lower a cost. No wonder crowd at cinema halls started dwindling.

Long after our children deserted the traditional cinema halls in favour of multiplexes, we continued to patronize our old neighbourhood cinema hall. Despite the rickety chairs and the shoddy upkeep, we would walk down to the theatre for our occasional movie outings. It must have been a couple of years ago when we last watched any movie in the neighbourhood cinema hall. Climbing umpteen stairs, huffing and puffing we entered the balcony of the theatre. As we made ourselves comfortable on the seats of our choice, we got the impression that we were just two of us sitting in the entire hall. We felt as if the show was exclusively being held in our honour. Later we discovered that there were two lovey-dovey pairs watching the movie sitting in different corners of the hall. We felt as if we were deputed to keep an eye over the young couples and I must admit it was not a great feeling. That was the last time we went to the cinema hall. Now we too have embraced the mall-multiplex culture and we are ‘loving it’!


Published in The tribune as MIDDLE ON Sept 10,2012

7 Replies to “Relics of the bygone days”

  1. You definitely have the talent for turning the ordinary into something extraordinary. I almost began to pine for the good old picture hall.

    1. Thanks for your flattering comment. Since you have chosen to be anonymous i really don’t know whom I am thanking.

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