Queuing up in front of the ticket counter, jostling to get in during housefull shows and savouring quick bites from nearby eateries while waiting for the friend who is always running late are regular highlights of the lives of many movie buffs in the city. Now, with Priya reopening today, they can get to relive the joys of single-screen movie outings like never before. Apart from glittery premiere shows and screenings of the choicest Bengali, Hindi and English films and new releases, the revamped cinema hall will also offer audiences with the opportunity to marvel at its fresh décor that features antiques and historic cinema props.
As you enter the hall premises, you are greeted by the black vintage car that’s now parked beside a wall that has the laminated posters of The Grinch, The Nun and The First Man. A shade different from the brightly-lit swanky multiplexes, the soothing lights guide you to a projector that has helped the hall screen films since the early ’80s. “It is a 35mm Westrex, which is used by everyone. This is the module for the delivery of the product (film) that the industry brings to the audiences. Now of course, it has upgraded to the digital mode but there’s history behind it,” said Arijit Dutta, owner, Priya, adding, “It has projected thousands of shows. Not only Hindi, English and Bengali, but also Tamil, Telugu and Bhojpuri films. Since a lot of film festivals used to be held in Priya, this has also projected a lot of international movies.”
The projection system, which has helped screen films starring Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan, among others, for weeks on end, was first upgraded to four-track sound system, then surround sound and now, digital. The first two needed only sound adjustments and no light fixing. “Many filmstars have visited this hall during premieres and the projector has witnessed it all. Though it was away from sight, its presence was always felt. It did give us trouble at times like any other equipment would. But still, it’s more trustworthy and hardy than what we have today,” said Arijit.
The shinghashon, which was a part of Satyajit Ray’s Hirak Rajar Deshe, sits pretty beside the projector. “This and many other props were kept at my residence all this while. I’ve used it as a chair in my room. I also had the jootis, gowns and cloaks used in the film. I used them as dressing gowns. Had I preserved them, it’d have helped me make a beautiful gallery here,” shared Arijit.
As you turn to look up from the projector and shinghashon, the wall above adorns some candid shots of Ray at work. Original posters of many Bengali classics and some Hollywood films are also put up. They have been carefully preserved by being wrapped in plastic and then laminated. One among the precious collection is a photo card of Aranyer Din Ratri. Photo cards, a norm for films releasing in the past, were given to cinema halls along with the film’s poster. “As far as I remember, this must have started long back — during the ’70s — and went on till 2007-08,” said Arijit.
Along with the revamped fire arrangements, the owners have also refurbished the hall’s interiors. “The seats are more comfortable now and there’s more space for the audience to move around on both sides of the aisle. The ticket prices will not see much of a difference,” Arijit added.
Source: Times of India