Single screen theatres in Kolkata are fighting for survival for years. Apart from threats like video piracy and satellite channels that make the viewers spoilt for choice, the newest threat is stiff competition from multiplex. The multiple-screen monsters have been gobbling up viewers of single-screeners ever since their debut. Among other smart business moves, the plexes have chosen areas where single screeners are not present.
But on the face of the competition a few standalone theatres have really evolved with time to take on the competition. Among them is Jaya located at Lake Town. It is a not a single-screener though. It did start with one screen in the 60s showing Uttam-Supriya starrer Jiban Mrityu and riding on the success added another screen at the adjacent plot post 70s. It helped that there was no other theatre in the close vicinity. It was just like anther single screener till some years back. But the way it has upgraded its facilities in recent years to become the neighbourhood multiplex is amazing.
Jaya now has Dolby DTS sound, airconditioning and most interestingly a plex-style box office. The staff at the glass-front box office are uniformed. Each one has a mike in front, books ticket electronically and prints it out. There is a monitor on each side showing current movies, show-timings, availability of seats and ticket prices. With the advantage of two halls it does multiplex-style smart movie programming showing as many as four films a day- a mix of Hindi and select Bengali films. Where it really counts is the surprisingly modest ticket prices- Mondays to Fridays it charges Rs 40 for stall and Rs 80 for dress circle, on Saturdays and Sundays DC goes up to Rs 100 and on Sunday stall becomes Rs 50, riding on the demand of weekend crowd. It calls itself a cineplex, and rightly so!
The locality has a large North Indian population whose outflow to the plexes have been effectively halted by Jaya's timely makeover. As one stands in front of the box office he finds the queue at par with any plex in look.
Hope Jaya keeps evolving. Wish it all the very best.