Chanakya, the ultimate destination for a generation of movie buffs in Delhi, returned on Friday with Hollywood flick Kingsman: The Golden Circle, after a 10-year break. The audience, gathered for the first show at 4.30 pm, had stories of nostalgia to narrate about the theatre located at the diplomatic enclave, Chanakyapuri. While many remembered the last film they had seen in the hall before it shut down in 2007, much has changed in the intervening decade.
The new multiplex is far removed from the single-screen hall with its prized staircase-seats, and fast food restaurant Nirula’s next to it. Earlier, Chanakya
was a standalone high-street theatre; now the renamed ‘PVR ECX
Chanakya’ is part of a luxury mall. While the theatre has opened, the mall — The Chanakya
— will be inaugurated next month. Known for bringing the latest Hollywood as well as Bollywood movies to Delhi
audiences, Chanakya’s journey began in 1970 with Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker
. From being the go-to destination for college students to offering a taste of superior movie viewing to neighbouring diplomats, the hall had a good run for close to 40 years.
The new multi-screen theatre, on the third floor of The Chanakya
mall built by real estate major DLF, can accommodate some 1,000 people. With imported marble, a westernised architecture designed by Madrid-based STUDIO GRONDA, and a gourmet food menu, today’s Chanakya
is meant to serve upscale moviegoers.
After the demolition of the old building, NDMC roped in DLF to set up a mall at the same location. But the project was stuck in regulatory hurdles for years. Chanakya’s fate began turning sometime in 2016, when the country’s largest multiplex chain PVR struck a deal with the real estate firm. Along with DLF’s movie arm DT Cinemas’ 32 screens, PVR acquired the rights of operating the new Chanakya.
According to Gautam Datta, chief executive officer of PVR, it took nearly a year to rebuild the iconic movie hall that required some Rs 15 crore of investment.
Gurkirat Singh and Ravindar Singh, who run restaurants in the adjacent Yashwant Place market, were among the first to enter the theatre that ran the inaugural show. “We had watched the last show of Taare Zameen Par
, which was also the last show in Chanakya
before its demolition. And today we have managed to come for the first show of the new hall as well,” they said almost in unison.
“My first movie at Chanakya
was Aamir Khan’s Lagaan
in 2000, when I was in school,” said Prateek Sagar, who now heads the movie hall on behalf of PVR. To begin with, PVR has chosen films such as Bhoomi, Haseena Parkar
, which got an entry into the upcoming Oscars, apart from Kingsman: The Golden Circle
According to sources, once completed, the mall is expected to generate close to Rs 120 crore in yearly revenue for DLF Luxury Retail. It is scheduled to open on October 4.