When we think of Delhi and its cinemas, our minds usually tend to go to the dime-a-dozen multiplexes that have cropped all over the city, offering the same films at the same prices with the same food being sold at the counters. But if you look into the history of Delhi with its vast, unexplored avenues, you'll find yet another face of the city: a face that celebrates cinema. In the days of yore, Bombay had all the glamour in the world, and Calcutta had all the brains, but Delhi celebrated cinema. The cinema was a warm and personal space, and the experience was a spectacle. And at the heart of it was the city of Shahjahanabad, where, like the spirit of the city, the old met the new.
This walk will feature four prominent cinemas of the city of Shahjahanabad, all of whom tell a different story. Two of them lie buried under layers and layers of dust, resembling the ruins of a lost civilisation that preceded us, while one of them barely manages to eke out a living, and another still manages to have housefull shows week after week. Moreover, these cinemas show us an aspect of history that most conventional sources usually ignore: the individual at the crossroads of history. The histories of the cinemas of Delhi do not tell us about the history of a film or a city; they tell us about the history of a people.
This guided tour is free.