Sohail Hashmi

Interview on Cinemas in Delhi: Sohail Hashmi

Interview on Cinemas in Delhi: Sohail Hashmi

Mr. Sohail Hashmi   (He is a leading authority on Delhi’s history & is specifically known for his Delhi heritage walks . He is historian, activits, academician and film maker)

  1. Q. As we know that, there were some Single Screen halls, especially in old Delhi and C.P. area, which had private boxes and balconies. Can we say that these were symbol of social status?

Private boxes were there in almost all halls. Regal has it and many other halls as well. Anyone could book these boxes, especially those who want privacy. It was also part of the social status, because it was only balcony area where this type of boxes were, otherwise there was no such segregation in general seats. And of course, these boxes were expensive in compare to other seats of the hall.

  1. Q. Unlike today when we have digital media platform to know about the upcoming films, but how one got to know regarding the upcoming film in Single Screen era or post independence period?

There were regular advertisements in Newspapers about the new movies. Also most newspapers had film review column. Through these also people gets to know whether a movie is worth watching or not. Other than this, In old Delhi, there were these Cycle Rickshaw, which made announcement, when a movie was going to release and in which cinema hall. This way to promoting movie was not in the New Delhi area, which is VIP area. It might be because in this area slow moving vehicles were not allowed to enter.

  1. Q. Demographical profile of a particular area mattered a lot during the era of Single Screen. Do you think the same demographical impact is their even in the case of Multiplexes?

I think it is still there. Because let’s take example of Salman Khan’s movie, as we know he has mad fan following, but if today his movie will release in Chanakya hall, then the same kind of craze would not be here. Another example is of patriotic movies, there are still some areas which have much grand response for these movies than other. That’s why, this kind of areas you still have.


  1. what was the food arrangements during Single Screen? Were people allowed to take their own food inside? Or there were restaurants inside and outside of the hall? Who owned these restaurants or stalls?

Some halls had their own restaurants. The stalls outside the hall were both type, private as well as owned by cinema halls. During interval, some vendors would come with 6 bottles of Coca-cola and tap the bottle holder with a key and they would go around the hall.


  1. Q. Comment on the run of c-grade films in the once prestigious halls of Delhi.

In these halls, C-grade movies were not played in the initial years. Because there were taboos regarding certain kind of movies here, as it was residential area. However, with the changing Demographic profile of Delhi, the cinema also changed. For ex. Once the elite class of walled city moved out and shifted in other parts of Delhi, then majority of halls in walled city play c-grade. It was so because now the patron of these halls migrant labour from neighbouring states.

  1. Q. Do you think people could have the same emotional attachement with multiplex halls, which they have with Single Screen halls?

I believe people who are going in Multiplexes, bulk of them went there to click selfie or they would talk in between the movie. This kind of behavior disturbs other people. These type of crowd could never have an attachment towards any hall. In earlier times, we used to plan days before, because we were interested in watching movies. Also the old movies during Single Screen had a different kind of reach to its audiences, which Multilexes don’t have. Today, a film go down from halls in 2 weeks, earlier movies run in the same hall for years. For ex. Mughal-e-Azam was housefull for 2 years in Golcha. The cinema had some connect to what was going around, either lingustically or other way. They had some connect to the ground, that’s why they resonated. These days, that kind of resonation is no longer. I am saying that good films are no longer in making. Some really good work is going on, but that kind of connect is not happening. If we see, in terms of technology, today’s cinema is far more developed than earlier days.