"Take movies, music, poetry out of life & its gone!"

SINGLE SCREEN THEATERS - The Incredible Dinosaurs of Cinema are dying. (Those Cherished Cinematic Moments: 1) - By Bobby Sing


A few days back, looking at the movie column in the newspapers, I couldn’t find the movie “Baabarr” released in any nearby multiplexes. So after a long time, I visited one of my favorite single screen theaters called “Vishal” situated in the west zone of New Delhi. Although I already knew from my childhood days the story behind why this theater was called “Vishal”, but I really rediscovered the true meaning of its name on that very day again.

To start with, the moment I entered the hall, I was awestruck by its hugeness. The amazing gigantic roof above the thousand seating arrangement was just out of my new thinking pattern formed after the numerous visits of multiplexes in the recent years. I once again realized the real meaning of its name “Vishal”, which is a Hindi word, meaning huge. The long way I had to walk to reach my assigned seat was simply astonishing. The big broad BALCONY, equivalent to one of the small screen theater in a multiplex was quite a new site for me and I enjoyed it a lot. The cinema is still one of the biggest single screen theaters in the northern region of our country. And today after being so used to the minuscule cinematic experiences in the small multiplexes in our local area, it was indeed a great experience to be there again, sitting in a vast sea of chairs in front of me and a big wide white screen playing the movie so far away in distance.
The 3 hours I spent in that ambience made me remember the way we used to see and enjoy movies in the past. The way we used to come at the cinema halls quite early and wait for the gates to open, while looking at the posters and scene sheets of the current and forthcoming movies. The excitement we felt as the movie started, the shouts, the whistles and the roar of the public seeing their favorite hero or heroine in their opening scenes. The joy & satisfaction we felt after the movie finished and the excitement with which we used to tell about the movie to all our friends next morning.
Undoubtedly the passion is still there and the excitement is still alive, but sadly……….it’s all not there in the same size. The theaters have gone tiny, the sitting arrangements are less than even 500, and the occupancy is even lower than the half. The big wide screen is now less in size and closer in distance. The glossy scene sheets display windows have vanished, replaced by the big computerized cut-outs. And you don’t have to wait to buy tickets of even the big block-busters after their initial release weekend is over.
In other words, the magnitude in which we used to enjoy a movie experience in the past years has definitely reduced. The obsession is still there, but the burning craze of desperately watching a new film has softened. Piracy, Web and Home Video Mania has certainly taken over the incomparable big screen experience. Besides this, people in the metros, now find it more trendy and classy to visit the multiplexes in their areas as a status symbol and do not prefer the good old big theaters lying vacant and deserted.
Sitting among the thousands of vacant seats in front of me waiting for the people to be seated again with the same enthusiasm, I had a vision that soon it’s all going to be over and extinct. The multi screen wave is fast spreading over in the small towns too and within few more years of our existence, I doubt there would be many big single screen theater buildings around us, especially in the metro cities. With the fast commercialization in all fields, these enormous structures will be the first to be sacrificed, giving way to new malls, multiplexes and commercial centers. Being the need of the changing times, it surely has to happen but I really feel sad for the youngsters who will remain deprived of such a great pleasure of watching movies in a “Vishal” (huge) theater in future.
So, if you are a die-hard movie fan and simply love the aura around these big white screens playing with images, then do take your kids and youngsters in the family to the nearest single screen theater at least once and let them have a taste of this unmatchable experience. Because in just a few more years, all these big buildings, are going to be HISTORY and the Big DINOSAURS of the Cinema World will soon become extinct.
Saluting the fast disappearing mania,
Bobby Sing

Tags : Articles on Cinema, Single Screen Theaters, Single Screen Cinema Halls, Multiplexes, Cinema History, History of Cinema, Dinosaurs of Cinema, Empty Theaters
15 Sep 2009 / Comments ( 4 )

bobby....i was researching on solutions to revive these single screen mammoths since we own two such buildings in a small town in UP of which one died long back and other is counting its breath. Thanks to piracy, we are out of business. THis is a scenario with many other cinema owners most of which have moved on to something else.

Being a small town, we cannot even attract investors to turn it into a multiplex...no buyers...a huge building like this ccould make u fortune in cities, but in interiors, u loose track of time watching your dreams turn pale under different shades of sky...sad but true....

Bobby Sing

Hi Yogi,
Its really a Sad situation but all true. The young ones of the coming generations can never experience the Euphoria witnessed decades back in a Single Screen Theaters.

I sincerely hope and pray that you do find a way to get out of the difficult situation.

Thanks for writing in and Keep Logging.


I am researching on the history of Moti Cinema in Chandini chowk new delhi..
does anyone has any article or any link to its vibrant history..??
Plzz help..


Bobby Sing

Great Mayank,
But for the best material on it, you should visit "Bhagirath Place" around the Hall and ask the people there.
That will surely give you a lot.

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