Raja Talkies, one of the oldest cinemas in Punjab and once a favorite of Pakistani cinematographers, has closed and its owners are selling the heritage property. Dhani Ram Theaters, popularly known as Raja Talkies, was built in the year 1930 in the city of Ferozepur adjacent to the border. Having faced many storms for years, these talkies have finally collapsed in the face of rising taxes and multiplex culture.
Theater owners say they have decided to discontinue Raja Talkies due to constantly decreasing viewership and increasing maintenance costs. Subhash Kalia, one of the owners of the talkies, said, “Most of the theaters in the city have been converted into multiplexes. There is not much scope of cinemas in this border town and hence we have decided to close Raja Talkies.
An elderly Durga Prasad recalls that a large number of Pakistanis used to come to this talkies to watch cinema during the holidays. He said that after doing his business and shopping, people of Pakistan used to watch movies of their favorite stars like Nargis, Shammi Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor in this cinema.
Hussainiwala used to do business with Pakistan through the check post but after the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971, the business was closed from this post. In those days, businessmen of Pakistan used to come and watch movies in Raja Talkies. Apart from this, Joshi Palace, Shimla Talkies and Amar Talkies were also in the city and their business was also very good.
Another elderly commander of the city, Commandant Ram Sharma, said that in these theaters of the city, English films were put on Sundays and their audience consisted of families of army officers. Apart from this, Pakistani dramas and serials were also shown in these theaters which were liked by the local public. Now with the closure of Raja Talkies, the local people have become quite emotional because with it the old memories of the city will also be tarnished.