Old world charm

Old world charm

Old world charm

Capital’s cinemagoers have moved from contemporary “Novelties” of the world to ultra modern PVRs and DT Cinemas. However, the city is still dotted with a handful of single screen cinemas which are deftly maintaining the legacy of old cinema’s charm. North Delhi-located Amba Cinema is one such hall which recently completed 50 years since its inception.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of Ghanta Ghar area Old Delhi, life seems to have come full circle. The landmark Subzi Mandi moved to Azadpur long ago, the cult century-old sweet shops have given way to Bikanerwala, famous cloth shops run by DCM have lost their clientele to the newly-opened FBB and V-Mart, and horse-pulled tongas have been phased out by electric rickshaws.

But as you enter five-decade old Amba cinema located on GT Karnal Road, you will be intrigued to find time standing still. Surprisingly, the old building hasn’t changed a brick and it’s is quite evident from a faded poster put up at one of the walls there wherein the hall’s facade appears exactly the same even in 1963 when Khwaja Ahmad Abbas-directed Shehar Aur Sapna was being screened. 

Cut to 2013, the movies have crossed a big leap, the entire generation of audience has unseated, but the cinema still stands there showing new genres of movies. To keep pace with the era of multiplexes, the hall has innovated an enterprising solution wherein a variety of movies are screened on alternate shows. For instance, one can watch Commando- A One Man Army at 12.30 pm or 6.30 pm while Nautanki Saala can be watched at one of the three shows – at 10 am, 3.30 pm and 9.30 pm.

 Some of the people working here are still the same. Septuagenarian Gopi Kishen Sharma who joined as a torchman 50 years ago now works as the hall’s manager and is responsible for the day-to-day functioning of 1053-seater cinema.

The balcony ticket is priced at a modest Rs 90 while other tickets range between Rs 50 to Rs 70. “We primarily cater to the those from underprivileged class. Some well-to-do families from nearby colonies also watch movies here but the numbers have, undoubtedly, thinned these years. I think the new age movies are to blame for that and not this cinema. Now, the movies don’t have the repeat value as much as the movies of yesteryears,” says G K Sharma, manager of Amba Cinema.
 
The only movie which completed silver jubilee here was Sholay in 1975. Though some Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar-starrer movies still draw crowds helping the cinema to stay in business. “Dabangg made around Rs 11.82 lakh in the first week and Rs 5.75 lakh and Rs 2.75 lakh in the second and third weeks respectively,” says Sharma.

The manager, calls it God’s blessing that the hall’s business still thrives even 50 years later. “It’s no coincidence that the movie which we screened on our 50th anniversary on April 5, 2013 was Chashme Badoor. This hints at the God’s intervention in the sustainability of our business. The show will go on,” says Sharma, with a disarming smile.

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