Back in 1978 when movie theatres were still a novelty, Priya Cinema—nestled in South Delhi’s tony Vasant Vihar neighbourhood—was nothing short of an icon. Cinegoers of the day still swear by the old-world charm of the single-screen theatres. This is probably why India's largest multiplex chain PVR, that operates a cinema circuit comprising of 846 screens, has given its flagship property a luxurious facelift. PVR Cinemas lends its origins to this very place. Four decades back, the company took over Priya Cinema and by 1997 found a partner in Australian media and entertainment company Village Roadshow. It started what is today known as PVR or Priya Village Roadshow.
PVR Priya gets a P[XL] format which is a premium cinema format where auditoriums are equipped with extra-large screens, enhanced laser projection systems and advanced sound. PVR has partnered with Belgian technology company Cinionic to introduce the Giant Screen format. Bringing the first P[XL] in Delhi, PVR expands its homegrown large screen format to nine across the country, the company said. “At Cinionic, we are committed to supporting the future of cinema with innovative solutions and services designed to enhance and differentiate the movie-going experience,” said Wim Buyens, CEO, Cinionic. “We are proud to partner with forward-thinking exhibitors like PVR who are investing in premium entertainment opportunities for audiences. We look forward to working together to bring the next generation of cinema to India with PVR powered by CGS.”
PVR's joint managing director Sanjeev Kumar Bijli hopes that this will help revive his business torn by the pandemic-induced lockdown for the last 18 months. "It's important to note that at this stage of our business which has been shut for almost 1.4 years and revenues have been dismal, we really have to focus on the revival of the cinemas. So, all our focus is on reviving cinemas again. It's been 20 years since we hadn't renovated this property. Even after renovation we kept it as a single screen to retain its old-world charm. Rest of the space we wanted to make it a hub or restaurants and retail," Bijli said.
It took PVR around nine to twelve months to renovate this property. “With an aim to introduce the concept of world-class cinema equipped with new-age facilities for the audience, PVR Priya paved the way for the multiplex revolution in India. With the re-opening, we aimed to maintain its iconic stature and introduce it as a catalyst for a social change. The new redefined Priya is a one-of-its-kind premium commercial hub designed to bring back the lost glory and the identity of the once-thriving public place," he added.
Priya was first revamped in 1990 with 944 seats and had closed a few months before the Covid-19 pandemic to be remodelled to its current version with 316 seats and upgraded technology. PVR offers an array of formats in the premium screen category, which stands at eight screens of Director’s Cut, 37 screens of LUXE, four screens of Sapphire, nine screens of IMAX, 18 screens of 4DX, eight screens of P[XL], 13 screens of Playhouse and one screen of PVR Onyx across the country.
"Designed by international architects, Priya reverberates a timeless luxury with its premium décor, and aureate lighting. The integration of modern elements in the interiors makes the cinema a plush and elegant destination for the audience. It also features a comprehensive range of gourmet menu with a live food station for an extraordinary culinary impression," the multiplex owner said.
“Bringing the best of innovations and aesthetics under one roof the new PVR P[XL] powered by CGS at Priya reiterates our passion to provide the best-in-class technologies in projection, screen, sound and 3D for a holistic experience to our patrons and created a unique and differentiated format. It sets a new benchmark in truly magnificent, larger than life and immersive movie presentation for viewers in India," Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR said. "This also represents PVR’s new capabilities in design & project development in refurbishing existing spaces of single-screen cinemas across the country into modern and premium interiors to recreate the legacy that they were known for."
While the famous PVR Priya gets a brand-new identity, whether this will help the multiplex operator garner more eyeballs is the real question.