It’s curtains down for 73 year old Prabhat Cinema!
By SUNITA VIJAY
The movie experience in Doon is undergoing a change – from single screen to multiplex to open air movie screening! The Prabhat theatre owners, Deepak Nagalia and his son Tushar Nagalia, introduced open air screening last week in Doon in partnership with the Sunset Cinema Club, making them the only legitimate company that provides an outdoor cinema experience in Doon. It’s a refreshing phenomenon to watch one’s favourite movie under the star-studded sky, in the open, while breathing fresh air; a healthy experience for those who do not want to be in the claustrophobic space of a cinema hall.
On being asked to elaborate on this, Tushar says, ‘A movie being watched on a big screen, in twilight, moon light, under the stars has its own charm. The first screening was done last week and we received an overwhelming response. We have kept the seating arrangement low and laid mattresses to accommodate couples or friends. They are free to bring their own blankets. Light beverages are served on demand and very soon we will be providing mild alcoholic drinks like beer or wine. The food, both western and Indian, is procured by some of the famous in the field. The mouth-watering delicacies may be relished while watching the film! We have outsourced the best projector with speakers that have the right thump, bass and treble. The sound may not beat the PVR’s Dolby Atmos effect but a high-quality sound experience is assured. The open-air screening concept is in India for the last three years and we bring it to Doon for the first time.’
On being asked about the bookings, he states, ‘All bookings are done through Book my Show, Insider.in and Sunset Cinema Club.in app. We have put up hoarders in the city to let people know about it. Very soon, we are trying to bring in Drive- in Theatre, where you can bring your car in, line it up, connect the audio via blue tooth, use the head phones, may sit either on the bonnet or inside the car and enjoy the viewing under the sky.’ Tushar is planning to screen some of the best English movies on a fortnightly basis and is ready to replicate the experience at other places on request.
Nothing in life or in nature is ever constant. If one wants to be heard, one must move with the time. Old has to give way to the new. The ravages of time and new technology always challenge the age-old methods. The single screen cinemas face the brunt of changing times, demands and expectations.
Prabhat Cinema, is an iconic landmark on Chakrata road since 1947, owned by Deepak Nagalia. It has seen its nascent, youth, prime and old age. With the evolvement of cinema halls and the competition faced through multiplexes, the single screen cinema no longer remains the viewer’s favourite movie joint. Prabhat is closing down on the last day of this month giving way to a commercial complex building. Almost every pair of eyes in Doon is used to seeing this old-timer structure with inviting filmy posters. It’s a place that has entertained almost every Doonite but will be scrapped soon.
Deepak Nagalia speaks with optimism and nostalgia, on being asked to narrate his emotions at the moment – ‘Feelings are mixed. It’s an end of a phase and a new beginning. Time to move on! It was financially unfeasible to run Prabhat. It has to go. Prabhat was started by my father and the responsibility, passed on to me after my father’s demise, has been shouldered with utmost devotion. Audience prefer multiplexes. Single screen halls are shutting down. 80% of them are already closed.’ Deepak renovated Prabhat once in 1977, upgrading its seating capacity from 500 to 900 seats while incorporating other changes. He adds, ‘We could have converted it into a multiplex but the space constraint didn’t permit.’ Deepak Nagalia mentions that he has committed his entire life to cinema, earlier as a film critic for Filmfare and Screen (weekly newspaper published by Indian Express – no longer in circulation) and then in cinema business. He intends to call off the theatre with a bang by screening Bobby, a 1973 (Rishi Kapoor-Dimple Kapadia movie) on 30th March followed by a feast. It’s the movie that celebrated Silver Jubilee in Prabhat. Free passes will be given on first come first served basis. The second reason to screen Bobby is his closeness and fondness for the Kapoor family. ‘My father was the local guardian to Randhir Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor. Later, I was the local guardian to Kareena Kapoor when she was studying in WGS. It’s a humble gesture to say goodbye to a place that has entertained almost every Doonite during its prime.’ To be wedded to the past and to shut eyes to our future is mental slavery. The change is necessary. Embracing new ideas is important. This is what the father-son duo seems to do, to continue entertaining Doonites by taking the cinema viewing experience to another level.