10 Awesome Single Screen Cinema Halls of Calcutta
There are more multiplex movie theaters in Calcutta than we would have ever imagined but the single screen cinema halls still thrive.
The advantages of watching movies at a single screen cinema are many:
- You can take in your own food (purchased outside at MRP)
- Ticket prices are almost half of the ticket prices at multiplexes.
- Food and beverages available inside are just about INR 10 to INR 15 pricier, so you don’t have to pay INR 180 for a 650 ml Coke or Pepsi which costs less than INR 40 normally.
- You watch very less ads when watching a movie at a single screen.
- Your bags are not checked as if you were carrying weapons or narcotics because someone going through each and every corner of your bag, wallet and books is very invasive!
- You get to see and experience fan frenzies during the release of Salman and SRK films, with fan letters, obsessed fans, and proper garlands on posters, the euphoria which is usually missing in multiplexes.
And the disadvantages are :
- Washrooms! At most single screens, washrooms are not well made or well maintained.
- Seats can be less comfortable as compared to multiplexes, with not as much leg space.
- The sound “might not be” thundering enough like a multiplex but its decent. (Most Single Screens are now Using Dolby Digital sound and movies are beamed via satellite.)
- Parking is not always available near quite a few single screens for your car or bike.
Here is a list of 10 awesome single screen cinema halls in Calcutta.
(In a completely random order)
Location : Dharamtalla, near Esplanade metro station
Since : 1940s
Seating Capacity : 730
Ticket price range : INR 60 to INR 120
Roxy Cinema is so huge that it somewhat gives you a feeling of an old and grand opera house, which is what it initially started as. Having watched holly flicks like The Dark Knight Rises, The Expendables 2, Man of Steel (in 3D with the help of 3D glasses available for a refundable charge of INR 50.) and Gangs of Wasseypur 2 here we must say it was a good and very cost effective experience. TDKR cost us just INR 120 for a weekend evening show! The Picture and sound quality is brilliant. They still have Rexin seats which are unlike your usual sofa seats but are very comfy.
Location : New Market area, Esplanade
Estd : 1932
Seating capacity: 1000
Ticket price range: INR 40 to INR 120
The last movie we watched at New Empire was Xmen : Days of Future past. The picture quality was a bit dark, due to them using the true color reel format and not satellite. Sound was good.
A unique fact about New Empire is that it has a very flexible ticket pricing and seating system.
The lowest ticket costs INR 40, which is for the “Terrace Balcony”. You do not get the tickets for the terrace balcony from the box office but from a back (or should we say side) door of the building and tickets are made available just ten minutes before the show starts. After buying the tickets you have to take the stairs to the fourth floor leading to this 50 seater terrace balcony. This section has plastic seats, and you get a bird’s eye view of the screen and the entire theater from there. Food in this section is also very cheap, like chicken patties for INR 10 (!), Veg patties for INR 7, etc.
Another specialty of New Empire are the box seats, which are a favorite among couples. Box seats are to New Empire what Insignia seats are to Inox, but cost three times less than Inox, at just about INR 120 to INR 150.
Stalls (ground floor seats) cost about INR 60 to INR 80 and the balcony seats cost around INR 100.
The building houses a KFC, a Dominos, a restaurant, a lounge bar, a coffee shop and other food stalls so you have plenty of options available apart from the local popcorn and chips and fountain coke at the counters.
The heartbreaking thing about New Empire is that it once was an exclusive Warner Brothers show house with the sign “Home of Warner Bros.” embossed on the building and would showcase only blockbuster Hollywood movies. But now they have reduced to showing only Bollywood movies and sadly the sign still remains as an irony.
Location : Bentick Street, Esplanade
Estd : 1943
Seating capacity: 730
Ticket price range: INR 60 to INR 120
Brilliant screen, brilliant dolby digital sound and a very well maintained theater, Paradise still feels like a colonial theater, even after a very expensive make over, which is awesome!
Don’t forget to gorge on a full plate of mutton biryani at the very next crossing for just INR 50 from this Mughlai roadside eatery, whose name we have completely forgotten.
Location : Sarat Chatterjee Avenue, Rabindra Sarobar
Estd : Haven’t got a clue.
Seating capacity: 600+
Ticket price range: INR 60 to INR 120
The Sound quality is decent but screen quality of Menoka Cinema is below average. Yet, it is one of the most visited movie theaters of south Calcutta along with Priya Cinema because of its prime location. There are quite a few options for buying snacks and beverages just outside the movie hall, including a Cakes.
Location : Rashbehari Avenue, Beside Deshapriya Park
Estd : Long enough
Seating capacity: 650+
Ticket price range: INR 80 to INR 120
The first thing you notice the moment you step inside Priya Cinema is a beautiful vintage car that is permanently parked at the foyer. Sound and picture quality is brilliant at Priya, where most Tollywood film premiers take place. Though Tollywood films are a priority for Priya, It does not miss showcasing any blockbuster Bollywood or Hollywood movies. The balcony has comfortable push back seats. The options of good food are countless around Priya, with an outlet each of gr8! Rolls and Wraps, Wow! Momo, etc. The same building also houses a restaurant named Ta’am and a pub named Vault.
Priya Cinema hall is a darling among filmmakers and film goers alike.
Location : Kalighat
Estd : 1947
Seating capacity: 800+
Ticket price range: INR 50 to INR 100
We have heard stories about Basushree being the Indian answer to the British made then aristocratic Metro Cinema (which is now being turned into a multiplex to be known as Metro Big Cinema)
Basushree is also remembered for the fact that Amitabh Bachhan and Rekha shot a scene for Do Anjaane here in 1975.
Screen and sound quality is average. Seating is comfortable but could get crowded as leg space is relatively less. You can always catch your latest Bollywood Blockbusters or Tollywood pot boilers here.
It doesn’t have a bar like Metro Cinema did but it has sort of a café in the same building.
Location : Prince Anwar Shah Road
Estd : 1971
Seating capacity: 983
Ticket price range: INR 50 to INR 100
Navina is your average single screen theater, with a grilled door, but with good quality sound and picture. The washroom can be highly improved. The location is prime with quite a few eateries and restaurants nearby.
Location: Regent Park, Tollygunj (N.S.C Bose Road)
Estd : No idea
Seating Capacity: looks like almost 1000
Ticket price range : INR 50 to INR 100
Another average cinema hall BUT with a fantastic screen and ear shuttering dolby digital sound. Malancha is Ideal for the crazy fan who wants to see his/her favorite movie star in the grandest avatar possible!
The stalls have plastic seats while the balcony has normal (non pushback) cushion seats.
Location : Behala
Estd : A very long time ago
Seating capacity: 460
Ticket price range: INR 80 to INR 130
Behala’s favourite two screen Cineplex has gone under numerous renovations and has become better each time. It is one of the 4 prime halls of Behala, alongside Asoka
Screen one which needs improvement on the quality of sound seats 300 people while screen 2 seats 160. Both screens have less leg space, and especially the screen 2 seats feel a bit cramped.
Cheese and Caramel popcorn are available for just INR 40 here! You also get Masala Corn, Veg and Chicken patties, chips, and fizzy drinks.
The building has a bar which has a completely separate entrance and never do the bar patrons encounter the film goers or vice a versa, unlike New Empire.
Location : Behala (just before Shimultala. The area itself is known as Ashoka)
Estd : probably before we were born.
Seating capacity : 800+
Our personal favorite, Ashoka Cinema Hall provides superb sound and picture quality. The comfortable seats of the balcony push back a lot and Cheese popcorn besides your usual chips and hot and cold beverages is available here.
The gents toilet is very clean but the ladies washroom could do with a major facelift which according to us is the only problem with Ashoka.
Calcutta City has plenty of Single Screen Cinema Halls, like Jaya, Star theatre, Elite, Puspashree and many more but only a few of them are not in bad condition. We firmly believe that the Single Screen should not lose to the Multiplex and die a slow, undeserved death.
Our intention was to compile a random list of ten popular cinemas.
There are countless reasons why we don’t prefer going to a Multiplex, but that rant deserves an entirely new post!
This post has been coauthored by a very talented actor and budding filmmaker, Akshay Kapoor.
Whatever information we have provided here has been sourced from the internet and personal experience and some details like dates, numbers etc could be inaccurate.