Eid brings a new beginning for Bambino cinema
By: Sidrah Roghay
Karachi: The Bambino cinema has started its renovation and smells of fresh paint, while the wood panels on the wall glint and the canteen is well stocked. Yet, its owner has left one room untouched. It is filled with debris; the walls are soot-laden and the furniture is burnt to ashes.
“If a government official ever comes to this cinema, I will show him this room as a reminder of what the cinema went through,” said Sheikh Adeel Imtiaz, the owner of Bambino Cinema.
During the mayhem of September 21, a mob burnt down the Bambino cinema, along with the Nishat, Capri and Prince. Despite repeated appeals by cinema owners, the government failed to provide any compensation.
“It cost me Rs50,000 to 60,000 just to clear up the debris in the building. The renovation cost another Rs6,000,000.” With no help from the government, Imtiaz has started renovating the building with the bare minimum, leaving out places which are not visible to the public eye. He opens the back door of a cinema hall to reveal that the walls are coated with black soot and the air still smells of burnt wood.
Eid will be a new beginning for the historic cinema, which was once owned by the Zardari family. Friday marked its soft launch. A few people, about thirty in all, gathered at a screen showing Rush, a Bollywood thriller starring Emraan Hashmi.
“We decided to show a movie today so that people know that we are open for Eid. Otherwise, the burnt façade makes a passerby think we are still closed,” said the owner. For Eid, the cinema will air Lollywood movie Sher Dil, along with James Bond’s Skyfall and Rush.
Nadeem Mandiwalla, chairman of the Pakistan Film Exhibitor Association (PFEA) – Southern Zone, said that the Capri Cinema will reopen in a few months, but not Nishat or Prince.
“You see, the damage Nishat and Prince suffered was devastating. It is irreparable. Also, why would someone repeat the same mistake twice?” he asked, highlighting that MA Jinnah Road was always closed because of protests. “Business cannot work this way. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are key days for a cinema and all those days the roads are closed.” He shared that the two cinemas will never reopen.
“The day when the cinema buildings were torched, each and every television channel was airing the incident live. Yet it took five hours for the fire brigade and the police to reach the spot. Isn’t that a good enough signal from the government that it does not want another Nishat or Prince on MA Jinnah Road?”