A fire broke out at Priya Cinema, one of Kolkata’s oldest and most popular movie theatres, on Sunday night. Panic erupted outside the upmarket south Kolkata theatre as smoke billowed out of the building while people inside were watching a film.
Even before five fire engines reached the hall, the audience had rushed out. A projector room technician said he suddenly saw smoke flooding the cinema hall around 10:15 pm. He tried to rush downstairs but there was so much smoke in the stairway that he ran up to the roof instead.
Some members of the well-known Dutta family of Kolkata who own the movie hall that opened in 1959 live in an apartment above the hall. They too rushed up to the roof to escape the smoke.
The managing director of Priya Entertainment Pvt Ltd Arijit Dutta is also a major film distributor and actor. He was downstairs when smoke engulfed the building.
“People were inside when the fire broke out. The fire brigade acted promptly and the fire has been doused,” Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee told reporters.
Early reports suggest the fire started in an office downstairs. While the fire was brought under control, dispelling the smoke was a challenge. Firemen used oxygen masks to reach the people on the roof.
Priya Cinema is right next to the well-known Deshapriya Park on Rashbehari Avenue which has been in the headlines for the last couple of years for hosting the city’s biggest Durga Puja idol.