Patna theatre turns into wedding hall for 'Vivah'

Dec 2, 2006 Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, Dec 3 (IANS) The popularity of Sooraj Barjatya's "Vivah" has inspired a Patna cinema hall owner to transform his upmarket theatre to resemble a marriage hall.

Ever since the Shahid Kapur-Amrita Rao starrer was released, the Regent Theatre has been caught in the wedding spirit and its management has converted the cinema hall to look like an impromptu marriage venue.

The front gate of the theatre is adorned with a festive banner that reads, "Punam Weds Prem". That's Shahid and Amrita in the film. Go forward, and auspicious Shehnai music greets you and the cinema hall's foyer is scattered with floral decorations.

"People have been inquiring if we've shut down our theatre and gone into the wedding business. In the coming weeks, we intend to diversify into more wedding-related paraphernalia in the theatre.

"We want 'Vivah' to be not just an on-screen experience, but also a complete family event," Suman Sinha, owner of Regent, told IANS.

Sinha compares the audiences' enthusiasm for "Vivah" to the gusto he had experienced when his theatre released Barjatya's "Hum Aapke Hain Koun!" 10 years ago.

"The film is going to be as big, if not bigger than 'Hum Aapke Hain Koun!' in Bihar. The hysterical response to 'Vivah' is not restricted to Patna. It is equally popular in neighbouring cities and towns."

The last time a film had gone beyond an on-screen experience to this extent was when "Jai Santoshi Maa" released in 1975.

Women in the audience threw flowers at the goddess on screen and the theatre owners started a 'Santoshi Maa' charity fund.

"I see the same shared spirit of excitement for 'Vivah'. We had thought the level of excitement ended in the movie theatres. 'Vivah' is an eye-opener," said Sinha.

The theatre owner attributes the film's unprecedented success to the small-town values pertaining to courtship and marriage.

"Audiences in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh see a bit of themselves in 'Vivah'. Not so in the metros where weddings are now arranged on a contract basis and the bride is more concerned about getting her outfit rather than values right," he added.

The impact of "Vivah" in the state is so huge that the marriage market has suddenly gone into overdrive. Many eager marriageable couples are now looking at the possibility of discovering love after engagement.

"They see Shahid and Amrita as their biggest role models. If after 'Bobby' couples wanted to elope like Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia, after 'Vivah' they want to get married like Shahid and Amrita," said Sinha.

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