While forts, castles and natural beauty are obvious essentials on any tourist’s itinerary, there are many sights and sounds, part of the urban experience, that are worth exploring. Jaipur’s Raj Mandir Cinema is one of them. It’s not only a popular landmark for locals, but is also considered a must-see experience for tourists looking to explore the city. The meringue shaped auditorium is a prominent sight on Bhagwan Das Road.
Approximately 40 years old, it is still a functioning movie theater. According to local records, the first movie to be screened here was “Charas”, on 1 June 1976. The auditorium has been designed in the late Art Deco style by W.M. Namjoshi, and is famous for its massive size as well as its interior decor.
As a result, it is thronged by visitors as well as locals, throughout the year, who check out the latest releases here on 40 mm print. The decor of the movie hall is incredibly famous – it is known for its zig-zags and curves and stars set into the facade, which are lit up by concealed lighting.
Ceiling domes house chandeliers in the foyer, and visitors walk up a massive ramp to enter the balcony area. As per classic movie hall style, auditorium seating features both stalls and balcony seating. The ‘local crowd’ is incredibly boisterous when watching movies, and is known to whistle, clap and and cheer the actors on, while eating snacks.
It is said that this ambiance is what makes the movie hall so lively – the actual movie watching is secondary to the experience. This authentic Indian experience, which is fast disappearing in large scale multiplexes in urban India’s metros, is what draws foreign tourists. It is common to see them clicking photos of the decor and the locals.
The auditorium also continues the movie hall’s eccentric approach to decor with lighting that keeps changing color. Visitors are advised to buy the tickets in the morning, even if they are going to watch an afternoon show as the movie hall sells out its seats fast. The usual movie timings are 12.00 (noon), 3 pm, 6 pm, and 9 pm. The night show is the most popular.
To soak in the truly authentic Indian movie watching experience, one should not sit in the balcony but in the front seats to enjoy the local reaction to their favorite on-screen hero’s antics. With its spacious size, it is no surprise that the hall can seat over 1200 people at a time. It is thus one of Asia’s biggest movie halls. The seats are divided into 5 different classes, which are all named after a gemstone. The hall only screens Bollywood movies (in Hindi), and soft drinks and popcorn are sold in the foyer.