The first single-screen to be designed by Le Corbusier plays out a sad story
The days of single-screen cinemas are definitely numbered in The City Beautiful. And the bugbear of this once ubiquitous hub of entertainment – the multiplex, of course! The predicament is so bad that for single-screens, expenditure is invariably more than income, making it impossible to stay afloat.
And Kiran, in Sector 22 Chandigarh, is no exception. This was the first cinema hall to open in the city. Back then, people thronged the singleplex and tickets were sold in black. In stark contrast to a time when security guards had to keep crowds at the gates in check, shows are frequently cancelled for want of an audience nowadays.
Situated on a 1,645-sq mt plot in, Kiran opened in 1953 and was the first cinema to be designed by the team of Le Corbusier, the Swiss architect who designed Chandigarh, the first planned city in India.
It’s manager, Preetam Singh, says, “Ours is the first theatre in Chandigarh to be equipped with a Dolby Digital sound system. Our USP is our location and we provide all the amenities cine-goers need, from parking to friendly staff and a hospitable management.”
Multiplexes offer movie-goers a wholesome experience as they can shop as well as eat out before or after taking in a film, and Singh rues, “Now people come to single-screens only when they have no other option. Despite being in the heart of Chandigarh, singleplexes no longer attract crowds.”
Still, Kiran’s box-office counter bravely displays show timings and ticket prices. The parking facility is shared by both two-wheelers and car owners. The cinema’s design is in sync with the location of the property in terms of color palette and the look of the hall.
With a blue, grey and white façade, the entire structure lights up at night, lending the building a warm and inviting glow. Alas, posters of the latest releases at the entrance are now just tepid bait. The interior lobby is decked with mirror work on the walls, lending a rich ambience to the hall. With multi-ethnic colored tiles, the floor exudes its own energy.
The screen is equipped with state-of-the-art technology. To enhance picture and sound quality, Dolby Digital is used, respectively. The total capacity is 500 with the ticket pricing at Rs 70 for Balcony and Rs 40 for Upper Stalls. Further, the seats are divided into 158 and 342, in each category respectively. As for the food quotient, patrons can choose from a wide range of snacks before heading for a movie or during the interval.
Singh concludes, “Most of our staff has been working here for 40 years. Along with the loyalties of our customers, we are also blessed with the dedication of our staff.” Yes, Kiran is still loved by local movie buffs but it is increasingly challenged by the growing number of multiplexes in the city.