Karachi Picture House


BY Amin H. Karim

The Karachi Picture House in 1940 was located at the corner of Bunder Road and Shivandas Chandumal Road. This area is just north of where the Old Lighhouse Cinema was constructed and across the street from the Durgah Wali Allah in Gari Khata. It is no longer there and replaced by a building with Muslim Commercial Bank.
The posters tell the story of the show biz scene pre-partition. Apparently the movie running at the time was VIDYAPATI; Vidyapati was a 1937 Bengali biopic film directed by Debaki Bose for New Theatres. It starred Pahari Sanyal as Vidyapati. His costars in the film were Kanan Devi, Prithviraj Kapoor, Chhaya Devi, Leela Desai, K. C. Dey and Kidar Sharma.[2] The music was by R. C. Boral and lyrics by Kidar Sharma. Debaki Bose and Qazi Nazrul Islam wrote the story, screenplay and dialogues. The story is about the Maithili poet and Vaishnava saint Vidyapati.The songs of the film became popular and the lyrics though encapsulating Vidyapati’s poetry were considered bold for its time. This however ensured the film garnered crowds at the theaters making it a big success of 1937′
Releasing on February 9, 1940 at another cinema house PLAZA which was about 3 miles north from this area was the movie NINOTCHKA  Ninotchka was a 1939 American film made for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer by producer and director Ernst Lubitsch and starring Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas. It is written by Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, and Walter Reisch, based on a screen story by Melchior Lengyel. Ninotchka is Greta Garbo‘s first full comedy, and her penultimate film. It is one of the first American movies which, under the cover of a satirical, light romance, depicted the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin as being rigid and gray, in this instance comparing it with the free and sunny Parisian society of pre-war years.
And then there is a poster on the floor for the film WAY DOWN SOUTH: Way Down South was a 1939 American musical film directed by Leslie Goodwins and Bernard Vorhaus, and produced by Sol Lesser. It was written by Clarence Muse, who also acted in the film, and Langston Hughes. Victor Young was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Music
Above the poster there is a larger poster for a GUJARATI GARBA on Sunday the 19th
Finally there is poster ad for the pre partition Punjabi film Gul-E-Bakawali, also spelled as Gul-E-Bakavali, Gul-e-Bakawali or Gule Bakawali, The film was produced by D.M. Pancholi, starring Salim Raza, Noor Jehan, Suraiya, Hem Lata and Jabeen. K.L. Saigal sang for the film.
Look at the diversity of Karachi pre-partition entertainment: Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, English. Karachi Picture House, Plaza and most of the cinema houses are all gone, destroyed first by video, then by satellite TV, then by DVD, and finally internet not to mention developers. The houses are replaced by shopping centers.
Amin H. Karim May 22 2019
Source Wikipedia and Facebook posts.


About Amin H. Karim MD

Graduate of Dow Medical College Class of 1977.
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