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Now showing... again

Good old Rivoli becomes PVR Rivoli but it retains its old world charm, finds RANA SIDDIQUI

RIVOLI THEN AND NOW Even as its earlier look is still fresh in the mind. PHOTO: R.V. MOORTHY

Rivoli was one of the oldest and smallest cinema halls of Delhi, which saw its golden days before Partition. Sir Sobha Singh, a famous contractor in the British period owned this and Regal cinema. He later sold it to the Sahni Brothers who also owned Odeon cinema. Rivoli was extremely popular for screening big banner English films of the Warner Brothers, Columbia, Metro, Fox International, and so on. Since the other three cinema halls in Central Delhi - Plaza, Regal and Odeon - were also playing Hindi films, Rivoli used to specialise in Hollywood films. Films of Hitchcock, Kamal Amrohi, Mehboob and Raj Kapoor were frequently seen here.

Aradhana days

And there were Hindi blockbusters too. But it all started with a personal obligation to a friend, as revealed by V.N. Sahni, who still owns Odeon. The Hindi film Aradhana was supposed to be played for a couple of weeks. The film did so splendidly that it started a trend of Hindi blockbusters at the hall. Despite a small seating capacity of 400 and an average light and sound system, Rivoli attracted swelling audiences who watched films like Pakeezah and Bhabhi. Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and other films were also screened in morning shows.

The hall lost much of its glitter in the 1980s and it started screening C-grade English films and even Hindi soft porn, which made it difficult for people to even pass by it as it would always be surrounded by street side Romeos.

The road to new Rivoli is filled with enthusiasm. PHOTO: V.V. KRISHNAN

Now the look has changed, and so have the surroundings. PVR has taken it over and hence the new name. It is now called PVR Rivoli.

This past Friday saw its launch with Taxi No. 9211. The new refurbished Rivoli is a statement in class, even while it retains its old-world charm. For instance, a part of its dιcor has an old time ambience, with posters of films of Guru Dutt, Dilip Kumar, etc.

This is because the new cinema hall is being renovated under the Heritage Cinema category by PVR. Plaza Cinema at Connaught Place was also renovated some time ago in this category.

PVR Rivoli that has an edge-to-edge screen, luxurious stadium seating in which your view is not obstructed by someone sitting in front and a 51-seater premier lounge, is also going to introduce new high-tech ticketing services under four categories. One is Self-Operating ATM Ticket kiosks which would enable you to extract your own ticket like you draw money from your ATM system, through an ATM provided by the PVR. Second is Real Time Ticketing in which sitting at your own computer you log on to their website, choose a seat of your choice and book online ticket for yourself. This service usually works on first-come-first served basis. The third one called Cross-Location Ticket Sales would help you buy the ticket of any PVR cinema from any of its venues. The fourth one is the Interactive Voice Response System - IVR - in which you dial 505787 and book a ticket for a particular film by responding to the voice mail.

The ticket cost would vary between Rs.75 and 200 though for the premier lounge it would cost Rs.175 per head in case of a small gathering/party, etc. Rivoli is also planning to screen films from France and Thailand.

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