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Its end of an ara as Delhi’s famous Regal cinema shut down

The recent closure of the iconic Regal Cinema in Connaught Place, Delhi, marks the end of an era filled with nostalgia, grandeur, and timeless memories. Built in 1932, Regal Cinema has stood as a silent witness to the evolution of Indian cinema and the cultural landscape of Delhi.

During its golden age in the 1950s, Regal Cinema reigned supreme as the epitome of cinematic excellence in Delhi. Its majestic presence was unmatched, with horse-drawn carriage drivers echoing the name of Regal, beckoning moviegoers from every corner of the city. While neighboring cinema halls like Rivoli, Plaza, and Audion existed, Regal emerged as the undisputed destination for cinephiles, symbolizing prestige and glamour.

As Delhi transitioned into the vehicular era of the 1970s, Regal’s allure remained undiminished. The mere mention of its name evoked excitement and anticipation, with vehicles often found parked in the bustling Palika market, their drivers chanting “Regal Regal.” Such was the cinema’s prominence that even Bollywood celebrities like Meena Kumari, Dharmendra, and Rajesh Khanna graced its halls, adding to its legendary status.

Regal Cinema’s significance transcended mainstream cinema, as it embraced and showcased parallel cinema with fervor. Directors like Shyam Benegal found a platform for their groundbreaking films, including “Manthan,” “Ankur,” and “Nishant,” thereby earning Regal accolades and admiration for its progressive approach.

The cinema’s association with Bollywood’s Kapoor family further cemented its place in history. Stories of Raj Kapoor’s frequent visits to Regal and Prithviraj Kapoor’s dignified defense of his son’s honor resonate with locals, underscoring the cinema’s cultural impact. Similarly, the premiere of Shashi Kapoor’s “Satyam Shivam Sundaram” at Regal, accompanied by the unforgettable sight of raining marigold flowers, remains etched in the collective memory of Delhiites.

Regal Cinema was not just a venue for entertainment; it was a symbol of societal convergence, where politicians and dignitaries rubbed shoulders with the common folk. The likes of Lord Mountbatten, Pandit Nehru, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, and Indira Gandhi graced its halls, highlighting its status as a cultural landmark.

The closure of Regal Cinema evokes a sense of loss and nostalgia, signaling the end of an era that shaped Delhi’s cultural identity. While the physical structure may fade into history, the memories and stories woven within its walls will continue to live on, preserving Regal Cinema’s legacy for generations to come.

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