My brother used to work in a cinema, in Muktsar. Those were the days of the reel and he made good money. He asked me to join him. I packed my stuff and went to live with him. From there I moved to Amritsar, Krishna theatre was one of the best in its peak times. I came here to ask for a job but they didn’t find me trained enough. Then I worked for the Regal cinema under a guru. After some time, they asked me to join Krishna for a good stipend and I came back.
There are people who still come to these cinemas. We have an audience of 30-35 for each show. It’s not like people don’t like this vintage setup, the problem is movies don’t come on a film anymore. So, all we show here is years old. You can see all this on TV anytime you want. You can see the movie quality through the projection hole, it’s so degraded. We have used the same film thousands of times now, but people still watch it.
I remember the good days. It used to be full, even the balcony. Hundreds of people sitting below, I felt like it was all in my hand, we had to stay very alert. it’s not just the reel that we have to replace but we have to keep an eye on the carbon arc lamp that projects the light on the reel and further produces picture on the screen. Even the focus needs to be checked now and then. Now we have closed the balcony even the floor is in shambles.
The projectors these days are so easy to operate. I go to see my friends who work in these new cinemas. All you have to do is press the play button. Then press stop at the interval and play at the end of it. That’s it, they don’t have to oscillate between the projector and the seat like us. The owners here will also be renovating this place soon. We have already installed the speakers downstairs and will get the new projectors in one or two months. I’m learning to use the computer. I’ll need that when the new setup comes in. There will be less excitement, less work but a lot cooler than now.
Story by: Gurdeep Dhaliwal