Meanwhile, Rathindra Cinema in Sodepur has decided to permanently shut down this week, despite an investment worth a crore. Everything including the sound system, screen, seats and sofa has been removed from the auditorium. The priority is to now recover the investment as a commercial space.
Most single screen cinemas which have shut down in Kolkata has made way for malls or apartments. Metro has been revamped with a retail chain on the ground floor and a multiplex on top. “We originally had 784 seats. That was reduced to 500 in 2016. Now, the seating capacity is 200,” said Prachi owner Vidisha Basu.
Bengal Properties, which owns the lease for Paradise, is weighing options to see if it can follow the Prachi model. Sunit Singh of Bengal Properties, which has another 30 years of lease of Paradise, told TOI, “If we ever reopen, it won’t be with the full capacity. We are now allowed to run in 50% capacity. That doesn’t make much of a difference to a single screen as we, in any case, would run with a 20% capacity.”
The current capacity of Paradise is 1,119 seats. “We might have a small screen at the top with a commercial set-up on the ground floor. Whatever happens, we will not be returning with a 1,119-seater,” he added. “However, there are no talks at all about selling the cinema,” he informed.
Ranadip Singha Roy of Rathindra Cinema that was established in 1987 said his family had spent approximately a crore in 2019.
“Our cinema had two auditoriums from the beginning. We had shut down one in 2019 and renovated the other. The seating capacity for that was reduced to 174. We tried reopening twice during the lockdown. But we had no returns. The OTT releases killed us completely. Instead, there were additional expenses of Rs 10 lakh,” he said.
In the current circumstances, he wants to concentrate on using the property for other commercial purposes.
“For the love of cinema, we had remodelled and retained one auditorium. But that didn’t work. Now we have plans of diversification but are not currently thinking of having a cinema there. However, one can’t predict the future,” he added.