One of the oldest and most popular cinema halls of Nagpur – Smruti Cinema – closed down last night (August 30) after screening its last film show of Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi, which was watched by an audience of 300 odd Nagpurians.
Today afternoon, Vikram Buty, the land owner of the one acre plot at Residency Road, where Smruti Cinema had been operational for the past 30 years, took back the legal possession of the theatre and the whole premises, as awarded by the arbitrator in the dispute between Vikram Buty and Prashant Rathi that aroused over the valuation of Smruti Cinema.
In 1982, the land owner Vikram Buty leased out the land to Murlidhar Rathi for 30 years to run the cinema business there. After Murlidhar Rathi’s demise, his sons Prashant Rathi and Prakalp Rathi had been running Smruti Cinema on the premises. The lease was made for a period of 30 years in 1982. Subsequently, Murlidhar Rathi constructed the building of Smruti Cinema and the landlord was being given the rent for the land. After the expiry of lease of the land, a legal battle between the two parties i.e. Rathis (represented by Advocates – Late VG Bhangde, MG Bhangde and VV Bhangde) and Vikram Buty (through his Advocates – Sunil Manohar, Akshay Naik and Rohit Joshi) ensued. The victory of this award resulted in Vikram Buty winning the entire possession of the Smruti Cinema property, including the land + buildings + equipment + machinery etc. Therefore all rights to the property are now back to the owner of the land i.e. Vikram Buty.
After taking the possession of the land and Smruti Cinema premises, Architect Rohit Buty, son of Vikram Buty, said, “Initially we were very skeptical about getting into litigations and court proceedings. But after this award, I strongly believe in the power of the law and the relief it grants when taken through a proper recourse. After this victory, not only I feel more optimistic about how the law works in our country, but also I feel more energetic to develop the land into a multifaceted facility for Nagpurians.”
When asked about his and his family’s future plans vis-a-vis the land and the theatre, Rohit said, “The single screen cinema is on the verge of collapse. People are more enamored by the multiplexes as it gives them a new cinematic experience. Perhaps Smruti Cinema has been one of the only shining examples of single screen cinemas doing good business these days. I shall probably renovate and remodel the theatre into a multiplex in a few years. As we’ve just got the possession of the property and we have no experience in cinema business, I want to run the cinema as it is for some time.”
Elaborating further on his vision on creating a ‘multifaceted facility’ on Smruti Cinema premises, Rohit said, “Today, the visitors at Residency Road, are facing a lot of parking problems because of the construction works of metro and the flyover in an already congested Sadar. I would immediately want to open up the property for the public with a pay and park facility. Moreover, being an architect, I feel there’s a huge scope of developing multiple projects here like hotel, shopping zone, multiplex, etc. We intend to make a proper and elaborate plan for utilising the true potential of this land.”
Reacting to media reports on how a lot of people may lose their jobs in Smruti Cinema, Rohit Buty, said, “I want to make it clear that we have just taken back the possession of our land and the paraphernalia built over it. Brand Smruti Cinema and its business and liabilities still belong to Rathis. We have nothing to do with their business. Rathis are known to run their business with integrity and I am sure they will take care of everything including their employees and business associates. We are not liable for anything pertaining to the business of Smruti Cinema. As per my information, Smruti Cinema is making decent profits and Rathi family intends to continue their cinema business on some other property.”