Connaught Place, an iconic landmark in Delhi, today wears a dull look, even after Unlock 2. One reason for this could be that its cinemas are still shut, like the rest of them in the city.
Regal has remained closed since 2017 because of renovation and other reasons. PVR Rivoli, its neighbour, has got its large shutters down.
Its closure is wide evident, with its facade absolutely clean, stripped of any posters, although a few still hang at the shutters.
PVR Plaza has more life around it. This is due to a few high-brand stores in its complex. Unlike Rivoli, its frontage has a couple of large posters, which remind people of the movies that ran before the lockdown.
Odeon, the fourth cinema in CP, too is a quiet place now, with a few visitors hanging around the nearby paan stalls, known for their sweet paans. Before the lockdown, the cinemas drew crowds throughout the days and late evenings, in spite of TV and cinema apps.
After watching movies, people turned to restaurants or roadside food stalls. The pavement shops too expected some business from such visitors.
CP’s corridors, where a few months ago, one could barely have a straight walk because of the crowds, are today like empty tunnels.
One can look through them to the other end, without any blocking of view. Other than ATMs, only Wenger’s has a queue outside its door; its cakes and pastries have defied price rise.
The stores do not seem to have much activity. The corridors, or wherever they have open spaces in front of them, are dotted with pavement sellers offering mobile covers and other such items.
There are a few others selling cheap paperback editions of popular books. The buyers are missing, but one can still see on the footpath several poster-print sellers. Most pavement sellers are sleepy or busy gossiping.
But their response is energetic, even if you make a casual query. Last week, S N Tiwari, sitting at his stall in one corner of Regal Building’s famous porch, said his “sales” are 70 per cent down. He is selling mineral water, mints, chocolates, toffees, cookies, small packs of namkeens and biscuits.
Those passing through the porch are his possible customers. Dinesh, occupying the other corner of the large porch, said he reopened his confectionery stall about a week back. Some stalls have vanished after the lockdown. CP is deserted, but walking around it is not easy.
All subways are closed; pedestrians have to run to cross roads.