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Cinema in new avatar

Patna, Jan. 4: Cinemas in the city are in image makeover mood. Besides stars, they want to offer film buffs sizzling food and swanky shops to chill out.

After such an impressive response to Cinepolis, the first multiplex in the state, many multiplex projects in the pipeline.

Even the old-world feel of the single-screens would be a thing of the past, as some are jumping on to the multiplex bandwagon to give competition to the new kids on the block.

Come Diwali, 2012, the age-old Ashok cinema on Buddha Marg, would be offered to citizens as a three-screen multiplex. SPN Singh, the managing director of Ashok Chitra Private Limited told The Telegraph: “Inaugurated by the first governor-general of India, C. Rajagopalachari, in 1949, Ashok cinema is the second oldest theatre in Patna. It was made centrally air-conditioned in 1974. Lately, we have observed that multi-screen business is more profitable than single-screens. So, we had closed down the theatre for renovation work in December 2010.”

Elaborating on the renovation work, Singh said: “We would develop a five-storeyed commercial complex at the site of the old cinema hall. The ground, first and second floors would have shops and banks. The third floor has been reserved for a food court. The fourth and fifth floor, would house three screens. Construction work of the multiplex is on a war footing to meet the Diwali target.”

Apart from Ashok, Elphinstone theatre — the oldest cinema hall in the state — is also adapting itself to the changing times. The theatre at east Gandhi Maidan was established in 1919. It is undergoing an overhaul. “Elphinstone cinema was closed for renovation in December 2010. A three-storeyed building is being developed now. The first floor would have a food court having a seating capacity for 150 to 200 people. The second and third floor would occupy the single screen that would have around 500 seats,” said Sharad Kumar, the accounts manager of Elphinstone Picture Palace.

Other single-screen theatres, too, have undergone makeovers in recent times. Regent cinema, established in 1929, was opened after renovation on September 10, 2010. The theatre spread over three floors and having 697 seats, was given new sound and projection system, including 3D projection. Mona cinema, established in 1979, donned a new look in 2009. The single-screen theatre has 442 seats and is spread over two floors along with a food stall.

The new look of the theatres, however, comes with a price pinch. Prior to renovation, the ticket prices at Regent ranged between Rs 18 and Rs 40. After renovation, the tickets were priced between Rs 50 and Rs 150. Similarly, ticket prices in the range of Rs 25 to Rs 50 escalated to Rs 90 to Rs 160 at Mona cinema owing to renovation works. The new range of ticket prices at single-screen theatres is almost equal to the multiplex ticket prices. For, the price of a ticket at Cinepolis is Rs 160 on weekdays and Rs 180 on weekends.

Film lovers do not seem to mind shelling out extra for the added benefits. “Both Mona and Regent look almost similar to any multiplex. The seats are very comfortable and the sound and picture qualities have been upgraded at both. There is also a popular coffee outlet at Regent. Higher ticket prices ensure a decent crowd because of the proper security measures,” said Divya Priya, resident of Boring Road.