Patriot presents a photo story to depict how Gurugram’s longest-serving single screen theatre, Raj Cinema, is still battling odds to stay afloat
It’s a normal working day in Old Gurugram. The dusty Old Delhi road wears a chaotic look during the afternoon. But no one looks to pay a visit to Raj Cinema, the longest-serving single screen theatre in the city.
Once upon a time, the reputed theatre attracted thousands of visitors regularly to watch the latest Hindi movies. Now, Raj Cinema survives by showing C-Grade films, barely attracting any visitors. The story behind Raj Cinema dates back to the late 1950s. Late YD Puri of Delhi, the founder, named the cinema after his wife, Raj. Initially, it started as a touring theatre with a company by the name of Jai Hind Pictures.
The theatre used to be a temporary structure held together by bamboos and tent. Later, it got a permanent structure and emerged as one of the most visited theatres in Gurugram. After multiplexes in the city arrived in 2003, the business of single-screen cinemas slid. From earning in thousands to almost negligible, it has been a mighty fall. According to local news records, Gurugram had six single-screen theatres before 2005, of which only two are running.
The Coronavirus pandemic has made the situation worse than ever. With the film industry seeing a decline and OTT platforms taking over the big screen experience, single-screen cinemas could become a thing of the past. With the future in shambles, Gurugram’s theatre heritage fades into darkness in broad daylight.
(Ashish Kumar Kataria is a freelance documentary photographer based in Gurugram. He is currently pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Still Photography & Visual Communication at MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia. He can be reached on Instagram @ashishkumarkataria )
(Cover Image: According to Bhanu Pratap, 48, who has been the manager-cum-caretaker of the property for over 25 years, the theatre not only showed Hindi movies but English too. The cinema would run four houseful shows every day. It was in the late 1990s, when the theatre included regional and C – Grade movies in response to a multiplex opening in Delhi, which resulted in a decline of footfalls with each passing year)
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