Once Bathinda’s hotspot, it’s curtains for Sukhraj Cinema

Four-decade-old single-screen theatre dismantled as losses mount amid Covid

Once Bathinda’s hotspot, it’s curtains for Sukhraj Cinema

Sukhraj Cinema has shut its operations permanently in Bathinda.

Sameer Singh

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 25

Unable to recover the Covid-19-induced losses, the four-decade-old Sukhraj Cinema, a single-screen theatre in the city, has shut its operations permanently. The dismantling of the cinema hall building, that was operational since the 1980s, has already started.

Film aficionados, including students from other Malwa districts, would often throng the cinema, among other single-screen theatres, to watch movies. Bathinda city gained unprecedented popularity after movie buffs from neighbouring districts started coming here, thereby giving a push to the local cinema industry. Subsequently, the city witnessed mushrooming of single-screen cinemas. But the onset of multiplexes meted out a severe blow to the single-screen theatres, hurting their business prospects irreparably. Many of them have already closed down over the past decade.

Moviegoers in the city said between 1980 and 2000, Sukhraj Cinema was the hot favourite single-screen theatre. Talking to The Tribune, Jagjit Singh, an ardent movie lover in the city, said: “During my school days, I used to watch movies at Sukhraj Cinema. It showcased movies before any other cinema in the city after their countrywide release. And if the movie was a hit, movie buffs would even buy tickets in black.”

Shivjant Singh, manager of the theatre, said after the irreparable losses suffered due to the lockdown and the restrictions thereof, they had decided to dismantle the cinema hall’s building.

It was a gut-wrenching experience for Amarjit Sharma, who claims to be associated with the film world for the past over 20 years. Sharma once operated a canteen inside the cinema building. He also worked at the bicycle stand here and later, sold tickets at the counter. When the decision to shut operations was taken, Amarjit shifted and started selling tea right outside the cinema building.

While narrating his experience, Amarjit said: “I still cannot believe that the theatre that provided me livelihood for the past 20 years is getting dismantled. After gatherings were prohibited by the government in the wake of Covid, there was no source of income for the cinema hall as electricity and water bills, among other expenses, kept mounting.”

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