Earlier today, the oldest cinema halls of Rawalpindi, Shabistan, has been torn down.
According to the details, Shabistan joins scores of cinema halls in Rawalpindi which have been destroyed to the ground in recent years to make way for commercially profitable shopping plazas.
Spread over 5.2 canals in the heart of the city, the cinema was considered to be prime real estate. It screened some of the country’s biggest blockbuster films from 1950 to 2010. The cinema hall was closed down after its manager, Imtiaz Shah, was murdered.
Previously, it had been converted into a hall for stage shows which filled more seats than films.
There was a time when Rawalpindi boasted as many as 21 movie theatres. With the decline of the film industry, 9 out 0f 2 turned into shopping plazas, 2 were converted into wedding halls while another 10 became ruins.
Owners of the Ciros Cinema transformed it into the Ciros Theatre which showcases stage dramas instead.
According to people, the destruction of the last cinema hall symbolizes the death of the local film industry.
The crisis of the local film industry and the growing demand for the display of modern Hollywood and Bollywood movies in expensive multiplexes have depressed people of the lower-income levels of the cheapest and easily available form of entertainment.
Muhammad Iqbal, who had been working in Shabistan for the past 35 years said that he felt every thump of the heavy hammers which crushed the foundations of Shabistan Cinema – and with it those of the original film industry.
He further added that the inflated hammers and bulldozers were pulling down the place where I had spent my youth, rubbed shoulders with celebrities and film stars and all he now had from the cinema were wet eyes.
Cinema hall workers Aleem Chaudhry, Agha Iftekhar, and Nasir Khan said that to draw in audiences, modern Pakistani movies have resorted to the use of vulgar dances and obvious dialogues in scenes.
Moreover, people who used to help in managing the cinema, Ashiq Mehmood and Waheed Ahmed stated that they have been forced to take up substitute businesses.