85 years since it was set up, Deepak Cinema, one of Mumbai’s oldest single screen theatres, has a new look
The dismal condition of single screen theatres in the city isn’t hidden under the carpet. Over the years, these hotspots of entertainment have lost the race to the great multiplex revolution. While some hung on, others shut shop, handicapped by losses. Deepak Cinema, started by Kutchi landowner Tokershi Jivraj Ganjhi in 1926, is one of the few that have survived and now, to breath a new lease of life in the theatre, the third generation of owners have revamped the space.
Deepak Talkies began screening films in 1926. Pics/EMMANUAL KARBHARI
“The single screen industry is dying. After managing for years, we felt the need to give it a new look, with better facilities to draw in more people,” says Punit Shah, present owner, whose grandfather started the cinema.
Shah added that structurally, the building wasn’t touched; elemental modifications were made like the interiors, furnishings and the box office. Capacity has been reduced from 800-plus to 500-plus with comfortable seats. 2K technology, which is the DCI compliance projection system with Dolby 7, has been introduced. The snacks section has also been improved with better variety and quality. Earlier, only Marathi and Hindi films were screened here but now patrons can watch Hollywood films too.
However, Shah admits that adding these changes and subsequently, increasing the ticket prices (from R30-50 to R110-300) has the potential to backfire. “The problem is discrimination, which is a sensitive issue. The class of audience that frequented Deepak earlier might find it discomforting with the new audience. It could be vice versa as well, so we might lose out on the better cream. It’s a big risk,” he admits.
At: NM Joshi Road, Elphinstone Road (W).
Why run this place?
This cinema is an ancestral property, so its owners have a sentimental value with it.
In 1981, the government passed a law where every property that holds a cinema is earmarked with the designation of cinemas.
It means that even if owners revamp it, they have to run a cinema, for life and it can’t be transformed.