Like to most theaters in the crowded Abids area, the entrance to the twin theaters Sapna and Santosh
is an abrupt break in an ordinary looking row of shops. It's irritating to make your way through all the traffic and the hawkers just to get through its large, pointy gates.
As you enter, Sapna hides crouched humbly like a cow-shed against the side of the stairs that carry you up to its sheltering bigger cousin. Once in, however, the renovated (in 2006) and refurbished theater treats you like you are the aristocracy - plush airline recliners for seats, and the kind of leg room that would make most Indians feel petite.
Only, they probably expect you to prop up your legs, spread out a picnic basket and start tossing a frisbee, since the screen itself is too far, too small for a real movie experience. For a 35mm hall, Sapna is too large, and so it really seems like an exalted home-theater. But the sound system's neat and the AC works.
The lobby is gaudily done up in mirrors and gold, and houses a basic canteen. Flavored popcorn, soft-drinks and a coffee-machine apart, it has mostly unbranded stuff, whether masala peanuts or mini-samosas. It's usually a family crowd that prevails here, so you needn't carry your pepper-spray if you are catching a first-show alone.
The loo begins by looking hygenic as you pass through the creaky wooden door separating it from the glittering lobby, but as you step into the cubicles, your rising hopes are turned into the unflushed filth that stains another of the disadvantaged members of the commode world. There are some things that never change, loos in theaters being the first among them.
In any case, since a visit to the theater is not for your daily ablutions, Sapna is a neat place to watch a movie. Basically one of Hyderabad's upper middle-class among theaters, Sapna is reasonably cheap, reasonably comfy, and will always be there like the comforting grandma, when the shooting prices of multiplexes give you a dhoka. Just take the seats a little up ahead, and you shouldn't be bothered at all by the incommensurate screen-size.