AH! THE CINEMA HALLS OF KARACHI-I MAY NEVER FORGET……………
By Raju Jamil
I talk of 1960 the first ever time I was allowed to go to a cinema hall but only the Sunday Morning Special or Matinee or at best–1st show i.e. 6 to 9 but rarely! and never the late till 1968!
I lived in Garden Road Officers Colony when I started going to the movies alone. I mean from home. joined by my close (neighborhood) fiends like Hafeez and Puppoo or my Dadi Amaan and Phoppi–in a cycle or motor rickshaw. The fortunate point was that there were many cinema halls relatively closer to the Garden Road Colony. near or opposite the Karachi Zoo. Nearest and walking distance were Nishat, Naz, Lyric and Bambino. Nishat was heavily influenced by the Income Tax Department—being situated right next to it. The hall was popular with families and always had Urdu movies. The ones that did golden jubilee at Nishat were; ASHIANA, EID MUBARAK, QAIDI, EK TERA SAHARA, CHRIAGH JALTA RAHA, and lots more. ASHIANA went almost to a platinum jubilee.
Nishat was a well furnished cinema hall with a certain local ambiance which could have been depicted in some Razia Butt novel with Aamir as hero and Naureen as heroine! The air-conditioned forced many to put on their shawls or warm themselves with tea/coffee. The upkeep of the cinema hall was par excellence.
Everything glittered. Now….it’s like dead sea scoves.
NAZ Cinema was not air-conditioned but Aslam still pulled the crowd by choosing to release the in-demand-story movies only. He made good amounts through ARMAAN the first Pakistani movie which did platinum jubilee there…earlier. It was HEERA AUR PATTHAR of Film Arts again which did golden
. This did box office at the Naz Cinema. Where now stands NAZ PLAZA. as the Video killed the NAZ Cinema much to the pressure of building plazas and complexes. then!
I remember LYRIC cinema–dearly for the fact that me and my neighbor buddy–Hafeezur Rahman, went to the FIRST DAY (Eid) FIRST (Matinee) SHOW, OPENING of the cinema in 1960 on the premiere of GOLAITH & THE BARBARIANS. I remember LYRIC more dearly–for the fact that it was the first cinema hall of Pakistan which had everything modern… L with words ‘yrics’ in between. A movie at LYRIC and hot spicy lunch or dinner at the adjacent PEHALVI restaurant–was fun fun fun!
LYRIC died a few years ago -:(
I can never forget the ‘student concession’ ticket we purchased for Rs.1/- for GUNS OF NAVARONE at Lyric cinema…and what more fun could there be–when we saw construction work taking place right next to Lyric and bang opposite to the (Goolbai) hospital I was born on 14th August-1949… yes…the
giant—-BAMBINO was coming up!
BAMBINO with the name which translates to a child in Italian…was in fact a huge cinema hall which also had the penthouse of its owner on the top floor.
It was opened with the premiere of “SOUTH PACIFIC” in Pakistan and had the honor of being the FIRST cinema in the country with the facility of 70MM screen
and projection system..something unique for the Region then! “SOUTH PACIFIC” drew large crowd only due to the fact that BAMBINO was something like a new picnic spot for the viewers who did not care about the movie (which had 21 songs as it was the most popular musical in the history of American cinema… and I still remember that song..almost by heart “I AM GONNA WASH THAT MAN RIGHT OUTTA MY HAIR” from the movie..which…was quite boring yet a must see then as the craving of a cinema-goer was at its height to visit the NEW “BAMBINO” cinema which had ICE COOL cooling, best restaurant, heavenly ambiance and equally an atmosphere in the hall to reckon with…where one would speak softly, laugh whole heartedly and cry quietly….watching the movie. Not like the situation
prevailing now…where exchange of sms during the show is like an integeral part of the story of the movie!). Speaking of LAUGHTER…it was at BAMBINO that
myself and PTV K
Producer Ishrat Ansari almost fell off our grand circle seats with fits of laughter..when we went to see “THE PARTY” of Sellers after completing
the days work for a TV play at PTV-K.
PLUS that DANCING/Hip Shaking Lady shaped through NEON lights atop the large
BAMBINO sign also goes down in history gliterring in roshniyoun ka shehar Karachi giving Moulin Rougue looks of Paris. Bambino is the only cinema to have hosted Field Marshall Muhammad Ayub Khan and his Cabinet for a 6 to 9 show of “LAWRENCE OF ARABIA” which I had the privilege to witness with Ayub Cabinet–my father, then, being Personal Staff Office to Ayub Khan. There were three Generals with Ayub Khan; Gen Burki, Gen Shaikh and Gen.Musa at the Bambino to watch the movie on Colonel Lawrence! And the next super movie which went box office on ticket sale for three
consecutive months–was CLEOPATRA and there could be no cinema hall in Karachi then..which could show CLEOPATRA then BAMBINO!
SUMMER HOLIDAY…was another movie which became a pillow talk in Pakistan and people thronging BAMBINO Cinema for tickets!
BAMBINO continues its crusade despite boom bassay ya humma aye! at that most sensitive spot of Karachi on some passive issues suddenly cropping up and
requiring rallies etc! which must pass through Bambino Cinema’s sight!
A few years after BAMBINO arrived, its marraige with the adjacent LYRIC cinema produced a beautiful child in shape of SCALA cinema…something like a home
theatre (and a dream now!!) where the limited seating and good ENGLISH language movies…protected the cinema from becoming a fish-market! where the
airconditioning was at its best, the ambiance like you may have witnessed at some cineplex in Dubai or KL..!! in fact better then that!
SCALA died its own death…having become sick…of the impact of unconventional movies and its atmosphere proving to a cancer to that beautiful mini hall
having velvet covered seats and a certain geity.
Coming down towards the Trinity School area from Zebunn’nissa street….we would land up at the biggest cinema of Pakistan “RIO” which had the capacity to seat 1100 in that huge hall with an equally huge parking within its boundary walls…right in front of Karachi’s most loved “PALM GROVE HOTEL” where they now have some shopping mall and plaza without adequate power supply and with huge rent! something to which RIO also fell out and died after trying to
survive as an auditorium for some years till building cancer got it too 😦
RIO cinema gave us many reasons to feel contented with movies like “COME SEPTEMBER” which broke all records of the American movies in Pakistan by running
for six consecutive months..most house full specially on weekends and sundays. Cinema rules back then..were strict! If the movie was classified as “FOR
ADULTS ONLY” nobody of below 18 dare go to the hall to buy tickets or even try to enter the hall on someone’s ticket! I remember…when “BLOW HOT..BLOW
COLD” was released in RIO right after “Sexy Susan Knows How?” … many tried their hard to get access to the hall using local area police influence
even…but strict monitoring prevailed!
RIO cinema ..I should always remember…was the place where first ever unofficial PTV Awards Ceremony was held under the aegis of MEDORA OF LONDON in
February-1970 where “KHUDA KI BASTI” won 5 awards….on Production (received by Ishrat Ansari and Rasheed Umar Thanvi..jointly), Best Actress received by
someone on behalf of Tauqeer Fatima who died in between the recording of serial in 1969), Qazi wajid as Best actor and yours truly received the Best
Supporting Actor’s award…from the CEO of Medora of London in Karachi then.
RIO should not have died….!
Going very very far back…not many would know that we had Mayfair cinema right next to RIO towards the TOPSY ice cream/soft drink outlet on that road
turning towards the Governor House when we come from Zebunnissa Street and pass the RIO now…
It was an open air cinema where…I distinctly, remember having watched Dilip Kumar’s movie which has this song “AIE MERE DIL KAHIN AUR CHALL” as I will never forget that song and faint in my memory yet clear–that old woman running on the hill when she hears Dilip sing that song!….and i am talking of 1958 when I was under 10 !
Driving past RIO and moving towards AVARI (AVARI Hotel site is the exact plot where we had the huge house of the C-in-C of Pakistan Navy..then..in 60’s) when you pass by the signal towards Metropole Hotel…and just before it on your right…was the most sought after–and favorite cinema hall..of the then
teenagers as PALACE Cinema was attributed to be the cinema hall free of horror, sad, and mystery movies. All the films it ever showed were FUN FUN FUN and family ones including ELVIS PRESLEY’s….which were regularly repeated as SPECIAL SUNDAY MORNING SHOW at 10 AM once in every 3 months…! PALACE was not a large cinema hall….it had an approx of 250 seats and on a single floor which slided from grand circle towards the dress circle. It had a wonderful ambiance and was the most reckoned cinema hall of Christians also. PALACE died almost a decade+ back succumbing to the pressure of wedding halls which promised far more “BIJNUSS” then screening the films…!
Its strange that CLIFTON area never ever had any cinema hall…till as close to the famous and the only…”Lovers Bridge” which was the landmark of Clifton just before the famous BRIDGE Stores leading towards the locality BATH ISLAND where the Government Officials had their official bungalows almost close to the seaside!
Going back right at the heart of Karachi in the hustle bustle small scale business (retail) area of Karachi…adjacent to BOHRI BAZAR and where now
stands…SADDAR POST OFFICE…and there at the small and congested lane…stood the glorious cinema hall..owned by Mr. Mobed….”CAPITOL” where I saw the best of the war, Roman era and Victorian era movies which I will never ever forget. CAPITOL was a cinema which had everything a cinema-goer may want as peace and tranquility to watch the movie with interest and full understanding. It was the only cinema in Karachi where the entry was not allowed..even if you had an advanced booked ticket..if you were F.I.V.E minutes late from the start of actual movie..as the movie usually use to start after a few cartoons of Woody Woodpecker followed by PAKISTAN KA TASVEEREE KHABARNAMA in Talat Hussain’s voice…a promo of the Govt. on the projects undertaken and their progress.
CAPITOL management went an extra mile–when they constructed the images of special CHARRIOTS at both the walls of the cinema hall inside when the 11 Academy
Award winner “BEN HUR” was released in Pakistan in 1960. I distinctly remember having met Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Sahab and his entire family; Nusrat Saheba,
Mohatarmma Benazir, Sanam, Murtaza and Shahnawaz..at the CAPITOL cinema when I went to see THE SIGN OF A GLADIATOR in 1964..and when I shook hands with Bhutto Sahab and told him how happy I was to meet him…on which he smilingly asked me
“Do you know who a Gladiator is?” and I replied “A Roman fighter, sir”.
I can never forget the CHOC BAR of Capitol Cinema…priced EIGHT ANNAs (fifty paisa) which was actually a real chocolate stuff not just coated by a thin slice of Chocolate….it was huge..somewhat half more then the magnum ones we see currently. Enjoying that CHOC Bar at Capitol during interval was as much
fun as watching the movie..and perhaps..one cogent reason preferring Capitol for movies..!
CAPITOL had a twin brother too…just about a few furlongs towards the Karachi Passport Office where now..survives a hotel…but..with the name of that twin brother…”PARADISE” where…we saw some of the most exciting movies like “PICNIC”,”THE NAKED MAJA”,”REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE”, FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS, GONE WITH THE WIND, ULYSESS, THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD, 7th VOYAGE OF SINDBAD, TOM THUMB etc etc……! PARADISE was managed by my good friend, the son of the owner of Capitol/Paradise…DANNY MOBED. He was a wonderful person. He lived nearby my house at PECHS Block-VI (Hill Park) and always obliged me and my friends with free passes for our favorite movies…and also treated us to patties and cupcakes besides coke! Many Government dignitaries have visited PARADISE Cinema as the guest of Mr. Mobed..and particular one I remember is Moulvi Tamizuddin Khan…Speaker of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan….!
Why PARADISE & CAPITOL didn’t survive…is perhaps on account of the poor health of Mr. Mobed…who wanted to maintain the grandeur of the cinema halls…but was failing due to ill health while Danny alone was not capable to handle the spices which had started to add themselves in the cinema halls of
Karachi which also clearly showed that the good days of cinema in Karachi are approaching their end 😦
If you are driving from Governor House towards Metropole area…right in front of the round about…which use to be the MUSICAL FOUNTAIN shaped like a SITAR, stood the famous and by the name…”REX” cinema adjacent to OOSMAN CHAMBERS and the building which then..had the office of the famous advertising company “LINTAS” (1960-70)….and REX Cinema always had melodramatic and comedy movies…and it literally had an old jallopy parked on the terrace of the main entrance area to promote and celebrate the success of “THE GREAT RACE” the movie..I saw 4 times in two months at REX cinema. Coll atmosphere…huge screen covered by velvet curtains…slowly moving to reveal the screen….with lights going low slowly…created a magic spell each time we watched a movie there. And it was in 1960-64 that i watched umpteenth movies at REX as I use to live bang opposite to the cinema hall at President’s Estate (Now Governor House enclave towards Trinity Church area) and my buddy…Laeequr Rahman a pilot on PIA Jumbo 747) was always my partner..with our sisters…also joining
us..for movies like COME SEPTEMBER etc..)
When REX got sick…doctors prescribed medicines…which were suggestions to make it survive by converting it into an auditorium…which was adopted by the owners and we did see a few upcoming private schools capitalize on REX AUDITORIUM for their functions…but buildingbaazi prevailed…and killed the hall for some mall or office blocks…..and cinemas kept on dying!
Coming down from Jinnah’s Mazaar towards Bunder Road…there was this ( and still is..) a huge Automobile parts market…and right in its centre was the ever popular PLAZA CINEMA….and the area too..is popularly known as PLAZA QUARTERS also…where stands Ardeshir Cowasjee’s favorite BVS MAMA PARSI School and the famous SAEED MANZIL the road of which takes you towards the famous JUBILEE CINEMA (which survives…!).
PLAZA CINEMA was an Urdu one…thronged with movie goers for its huge convenience on the availability of transport–specially after the late night (last) show…where Rickshaws, Taxis and even Buses plyed almost 24 hours! Watching movie was fun there…as the appetite for special PANI PURI outside just
beneath that huge tree..which still stands tall…with Dahi Barray Ki Chat..was perhaps the best of the vicinity! I saw “INSAAN BADALTA HAI” at Plaza…which was perhaps..Waheed Murad’s debut with a small role!
Right across PLAZA cinema or parallel to it…towards the Misquita Gardens & Ankelsaria Hospital..stood a fairly big building having RENO Cinema…the odd or relatively boring part of the hall was that the movies could only be well enjoyed in winters–RENO was not an airconditioned hall 😦 but quality movies
were released their on sharing basis…like the release of SHARARAT *ing Mohammad Ali and Laila..and it was quite usual that a movie…in 60’s & 70’s (possibly even now at some places) was simultaeneously released in several cinema halls…that the four to six reels were swiftly exchanged from cinema to
cinema that the show must go on! RENO too…died! its natural death…!
Moving towards the frontage of Misquita Gardens…we would arrive at the area popularly known as PLAZA QUARTERS…but I termed it (and it became popular then in very early 60’s…) as CINEMA LANE…on account of the fact that three cinema in a row stood there; GODEON (I remember its popular slogan “GET GOING THE GODEON’s WAY”), EROS & RIVOLI, ….and by just a turn towards right..after the last cinema hall Rivoli…stood right in the corner….another cinema
I distinctly remember that before the main entry to GODEON’s stood the PLAZA Quarters branch of UBL (which is still there…) and this cinema hall showed only English movies…like “VIKINGS” and “A FAREWELL TO ARMS” which I saw there….It was a well decorated cinema and had the best sandwiches at the tuck shop it had on 1st floor grand-circle area. I also saw “GIDGET” series of Hollywood’s teenage heart-throb movies….of which “GIDGIT GOES HAWAIN..” I found the best!
GODEON too became history………..!
EROS cinema belonged to my first (Happy Home) school mate Ejaz….who had this heroic of showing his richness by buying dozens of toffees and chocolates at school’s tuck shop and while distributing them—inviting us to the movies…free…at his cinema hall. I saw “BEDARI” there and even met Rattan Kumar who was specially invited by Ejaz’s dad for the show as Rattan was a child star then and a hero of that one of the earliest movies of Pakistan….in 1957-58.
RIVOLI came much later…EROS & GODEON…but RIVOLI was far far more grand with ambiance, pomp and show…having velvet covered reclining seats and ice cool
aircondioning. Agha G.A. Gul’s prize production “NAILA” was premiered there…which ran packed house for several weeks! Meena Kumari’s movie “PAKEEZA” was premiered there…and created quite a stir! Rivoli did not survive…it died when there were no sufficient funds with the owners to buy some important part of that cinemascope projector…which had done it’s worth and needed a replacement. It was quoted to be Rs.150k THEN! the cost of that part!
Moving towards Jubilee area of Hoti Market….the first turning on right after RIVOLI….you would drive straight to the end where on the right side stood the beautiful “KOHINOOR” cinema–which then again, was one of the most enchanting place..geared up with all the necessities to make a viewer’s short stay of
few hours..comfortable and worthy to watch the movie with interest. I faintly remember that probably…I saw “DIL MERA DHARKAN TERI” *ing Waheed & Shamim Ara?
KOHINOOR lost itself under the severe pressure of finances required to keep it breathing! The owners preferred fast bucks by selling the plot..then to continue with the cinema hall–:(
Moving ahead…touching that mini roundabout of Hoti Market….we see JUBILEE CINEMA..which is one of the oldest cinema hall of Karachi and strangely this hall survives but through high chemistry medicines:) and this cinema hall I remember from late 50’s that in mid-sixties I watched movies like “SAAT LAKH”
and later…”GEHRA DAAGH”….of course having watched that super B&W (Indian) movie “BHAI BHAI” at the same cinema hall…and that song on Shashakila.. “AIE DIL MUJHE BATA DE” by Geeta Dutt…remains as infectious as ever! JUBILEE was not airconditioned–but the movies it released were!
Crossing—–Radio Pakistan, Karachi on Bunder Road and cruising towards Merewhether Tower…..you’d, then, pass by RITZ cinema opposite the shops of ATTAR & PERFUMES……where now stands a shopping arcade?? I saw quite many movies there…and it ended its crusade by getting messed up with Kung Fu & Karate and FANTOMAS kind movies!!
Continuing to proceed towards MWT….right near the famous JINNAH SPORTS (from where we use to buy – in 60’s – the 5 and half ounce Sialkot-made cricket ball) and just before the KMC building… stood the LIGHT HOUSE Cinema….which is still remembered ardently by those who use to regularly avail the
opportunity of watch rare–Pakhtoon movies on limited basis. With Badar Munir fighting his way to stardom from a tea-boy at the Eastern Film Studios..the ever increase of Pakhtoon productions…saw Badar Munir become a heart-throb for hundred of thousands of pakhtoons–that literally took over LIGHT HOUSE Cinema and the hall got popular by also the large number of shops herein referred to as “LANDA BAZAAR” right in its arms….and the cinema hall thrived without A/C and smelled of niswarr–the aromatic compound—till it too perished !
The journey continuing..we trudge past NAPIER MOLE BRIDGE a.k.a NATIVE JETTY…towards Jackson (Keamari) area…we had this NAGINA Cinema which, some say, belonged to Aslam Bhatti (of Dubai’s) family. The hall with limited seats had no airconditioning but most of the shows were houseful as the latest movies released in Karachi…were released simultaeneously at NAGINA due to a large number of populace around and at the Manora Island from where the cinema goer travelled by boats…to Keamari ( and still do ). NAGINA cinema was also popular with Dock workers! It vanished almost two decades back due to high costs and low income.
If we come to Karachi Airport and cross over to Malir Area…there were two cinemas halls which did thriving business on the main Malir Halt and Kalaboard Road…leading towards PASMIC or Thatta. I forget the names…but do remember having watched a few movies there too..with my school mate Aurangzeb Ishtiaq.
A little before the Old Airport in karachi…we have Shah Faisal Colony (former name being DRIGH Colony) across the railway line towards the divided portion of Faisal base (where Quaid-e-Azam landed when he arrived in Karachi on August-1947)….there was a cinema hall which I can never forget and which we nicked as SAVIOR because if you
were to face dissapointment at a city cinema hall on tickets being sold out…there was always an 80% chance that you would get a ticket at SHAMA Cinema…and reaching the cinema hall was relatively less costly..because of the local train and mostly a FREE ride! while the management at SHAMA Cinema was smart that they started the show at 3.30 PM i:e half an hour late then normal halls did. SHAMA was an ordinary cinema but now an extraordinary shopping mall for that locality!
Moving from Airport towards, the then, almost deserted road..which now is one of the busiest on traffic…which now takes you to Gulistan-e-Jauhar and Askari Housing near that huge petrol pump which also leads towards the Christian Cemetery and the National Stadium…the exact place where you see that MILLENNEUM MALL…stood “DREAMLAND” the FIRST ever DRIVE-IN Cinema of Pakistan…where..on its opening day…I can never forget…that the line up of cars..was almost from Drigh Road Railway Station on now.. main Shahrah-e-Faisal…(we have a flyover there now)….which covers miles…and people in the car…had thronged to see the first ever movie in drive in theatre which was “ANJUMAN” starring: Waheed Murad and Rani. DREAMLAND belonged to the JUNG family…..who lived at Queens Road. The theatre’s car park having a chained (with a mini pole) speaker was affixed on the window of driver’s side…and it was well synchronised with the screen image to provide clarity in sound and had the facility of low and high volume selection.
DREAMLAND had a wonderful cafe where sandwiches, light snacks and hot coffee, hot dogs, CRISPY CHIPS ( actual brand name..which also ran their advert. during the interval) and the first reel of the movie always being a cartoon of the DRIVE IN THEATRE attendant questioning someone on arriving at the theatre…and when the guest confirms that he IS a patron of DRIVE-IN….cinema, that cartoon character would bow and say “BE OUR GUEST!”
DRIVE-IN THEATRE….was a recluse too where…apart from watching movie under an open sky…many came with certain ‘ahd O’ paimaan……which became a rhyme and reason of many love affairs culminating to quite many marraiges–and some couples…grand-parents now, live happily ever after !!
There came two more DRIVE-IN theatres adjacent to Dreamland…but all the three died much to the persisting taunts of builders that such huge land is going waste with no public interest towards the movies and ambiance the theatres were trying to attract!
Gulshan-e-Iqbal then, not in sight–the cinema hall “NOVELTY” on the road leading from TEEN HATTI towards Nishtar Road…was a typical “ilaqaiee’ cinema hall where the majority were females viewers..mostly AAPAs and CHACHEEs….burqa clad..and quite vocal in tears and sobbing that I can never forget the shrieking
and loud cries of quite many females during the crises scenes of “DEWAR BHABI” I saw with my cousins at NOVELTY who lived nearby at Jehangir Road.
Crossing NOVELTY we move towards the Golimar area where we had this SOCIETY Cinema just before the bridge which takes us towards Rizvia Society. I saw Waheed Murad’s “SAMMANDAR” at Society Cinema because I could get that 6 to 9 show ticket at RENO. SOCIETY was not airconditioned but sort of conditioned to our requirements…as it had the best CHHOLLAYWALLA outside!
In Nazimabad…we had but ONE most popular RELAX cinema near Agha Juice Corner right adjacent to the huge roundabout with huge parking. RELAX the word attracted many but only during winters or at last show..for the hall was not airconditioned….but it did attract a large audience–mainly from Rizvia Society, Firdaus Colony
(behind Cafe Zaiqa) and the Nazimabad Number AIK also covering Sir Syed Girls College….near Muslim League Colony across pulliyas! NAYAB was another cinema in Nazimabad which had house full shows due to a limited number of seats….
When we move back to the city…we are fondly reminded of the TWO most visited cinema halls in the history of Karachi..
Yes–I talk of REGAL and ODEON right in the heart of Karachi near the main Abdullah Haroon (VICTORIA) Road…which is now the largest electronic & Mobile Phone market of Pakistan….which spreads till BAMBINO & LYRIC Cinema.
In early 60’s REGAL mainly showed Indian movies…I remember I saw “AIK DOU TEEN” starring Moti Lal there…I also saw “AWARA”, “AAB-e-HAYAT” and “AAS” and when, during the interval, the curtain of the cinema screen use to move or shuffle…I always thought that the filmstars behind..on stae are preparing to start their act! (that was in 1958 when I was 9 of age!)…..moving a bit ahead of REGAL towards the Church…on Saddar Road, we had this ODEON cinema with special gates and adequate car parking space…in that most cogested area of Karachi. I saw “CHIRAGH-e-ALLADIN (where I saw the Genie for first ever time and almost believed that they are in Karachi also….” and “ANDAZ” of India there (Indian movies were banned in Pakistan after the 1965 war!)…!
The Cinema hall around PECHS near Nursery Area close to main Shahrah-e-Faisal which was spread on almost 4000 sq. yds..was KHAYYAM where my first cousin’s husband Sultan Karamally, once established a restaurant also. The cinema hall was beautifully decorated and had splendid cooling. I saw “RAGEELA” and “PAYAL KI JHANKAR” there with my cousin Tariq Kuraishy. The cinema hall had the international standards including the best mayo roll one could think of!
KHAYYAM vanished….with huge memories still creating waves in the minds of many like me!
CINEMA HALLS in Karachi during late 50’s through early 80’s never witnessed voilence — there was always a certain family atmosphere in cinema halls.
Sometimes, home cooked parathas and qeema were served by khalas and phoppis during the interval.
The manner in which the ciname halls were decorated with wonderful facilities to the viewers–is beyond imagination now. The toilets were clean and aromatically fresh air was continuous. The airconditioning was smooth and chilly! The quality and quantity of food items was amazing. If you asked for a PEACH MELBA…you WILL get the PEACH with MELBA and not only “MALBA” that you do…currently with a nail size peach!!
The sandwich we ate during the interval at BAMBINO had so much cheese and chicken that you felt like smiling and clucking!!!
The Choc Bar at CAPITOL: was nothing but CHOCOLATE and not a thin choco slice with BARAFF..you get these days!
CINEMA going then—was not only fun but learning! and I feel sad that after 40 years from today—there will be not much to remember and talk sweetly about the cinema halls of Karachi!
Before curtains–and finally…I would like to take into account the TWO cinemas which were, then, in our country PAKISTAN and we lost them besides many good friends, moments and memories! I visited Dacca (now Dhaka) at the then East Pakistan…twice; in 1958 and in 1967 to my Khalu G. A. Madani, ICS who was Chairman D.I.T and during 1967 visit Chairman EP-WAPDA. In my both the trips..I had the opportunity to see movies at NAZ & GULISTAN Cinemas.. the twins…with NAZ being on GROUND floor and GULISTAN being on FIRST floor in same building…bang opposite to BAITUL MOKARRAM and D.I.T Building/The Dacca National Cricket Stadium (now known as Bangabandhu). At NAZ I saw “APRIL LOVE” of Pat Boone in 1958 with my cousins….and at GULISTAN…I saw Waheed Murad’s “EHSAAN” in 1967 with my cousin Hasan Madani (currently heading SHELL-Sri Lanka). I know my article states KARACHI on cinema halls…but somehow, I cannot forget these two cinema halls on my memory of cinema-going and umpteenth movies I watched from 1956 through 1981 in cinema halls…..99.8% in Karachi at the halls which are not there any more…but their memories shall live….till the memory I have and whatever scribed here….has not been taken from any scrap book or dairy…it ALL comes from my sweet memories—well maintained at some cell of the millions we have in our brains! and before MY memory gives up..I thought to pen down those merry & sad) moments of the cinemas of yesteryears in karachi in my bad to worst English prose….which, may not carry unique grammar or words but would certainly wreak lot of wonderful moments and memories for those who had this unique opportunity to enjoy movie going and fun at the cinema halls of Karachi….1950’s through late 80’s !
Karachi needs cinema hall, cineplexes and the concerned authorities must provide some kind of attraction to the investors to come forward and build good cinema halls and even drive in theatres!
I received scores of mails and comments via emails..many suggesting that I should send my article for publishing in newspapers.