P N Khanna

Interview with Mr P N Khanna: Cinemas in Delhi

Interview with Mr P N Khanna: Cinemas in Delhi

( He is basically a delhite, whose family came to Delhi during the partition era. )


  1. Q. Is your family basically from Delhi or came from somewhere else?

My grandfather came from Punjab (Now Pakistan-Punjab) to Delhi in partition days. From that time, we are living in Delhi, so we considered ourselves Delhite.

  1. During your young days, in which Single Screen halls you preferred to watch movies?

All the halls in Cannought place like Rivoli, Regal, Odeon, Plaza etc.

  1. Q. what are the changes you find in the halls during Single Screen and now in the time of multiplex?

One major difference is that, unlike today that time (during Single Screen) the seats in the hall were not comfortable. Second, today the technology of cinema is far better than Single Screen days. But that time, when you arrive in the cinema hall, the person who checks tickets, used to take you to the seats. Unlike today, when you walk in the hall and they say your seat is somewhere there (pointing towards random side). That time, interval was long enough to have snacks and then go back to your seats. Unlike, today when interval is too short. Also in some halls there used to be a bell ringing in the foyer, which told everybody that movie is soon going to start.

  1. Q. Do you think watching movie from a particular seat and particular hall was a symbol of status?

At that time, the cost of seat dependent upon, where is the seat in the hall located. If you were in the front row, it cost less and if you were right at the back, it would cost substantially more. If you were somewhere in the middle, which has middle rate. And if there was a balcony, then it would be most expensive. So, there is difference due to the cost. Because the kind of people who had occupied these seats, both social and economic difference.

  1. Q. When in 1990’s video and VCR came into India and subsequently Single Screen halls had declined. Then did you continue to watch movies in the hall or shifted to TV at home?

No, I still prefer cinema halls for watching movies. Because at home, it is small screen of Tv, so one do not get the same impact of big screens of cinema halls. Also going to cinema hall was and is an experience; whereas watching movie on TV at home does not mean anything. Today you can get movie on demand on TV, you can play it pause it anytime; but the experience of watching it on big screen, with amazing sound system and no one is there to disturb you is special.


  1. Q. what kind of movies your family or you had preferred to watch in your grown up years?

In my growing up years, we mostly watched English movies. My parents encouraged us to watch English movies, rather than Hindi movies. The reason for this is better content and technology of English movies. However, my cousins were encouraged to see Hindi movies and not allowed to watch English movies. Because English movies were not considered culturally right. My friends in college were amazed that I could go to watch English movies and follow each and every word spoken in the movie. But I think majority people used to watch Hindi movie, as everyone was not comfortable with the content of English movies.