KARACHI, Sept 21: The burning of five cinema halls by a mob on Friday shocked not just the people associated with the business but the art fraternity in general.
It strengthened the view held by sceptics who have felt that the space for creative expression and artistic representation is increasingly shrinking in Pakistan.
Film exhibitor, distributor and owner of one of the cinemas that were set on fire Nadeem Madviwalla said: “I don’t know why the government announced that day (reference to the public holiday). It baffles me.
“The government has completely failed to protect everybody. You see, there isn’t protection for anyone. It is confusing as to why every time they allow the mob to enter M.A. Jinnah Road. It’s not for the first time. It’s nothing new. This provides miscreants an opportunity to do as they please. Incidents like these on M.A. Jinnah Road have become a regular occurrence.
“These cinemas, the remaining ones I mean, are cultural landmark buildings. They have cultural and historical significance. I have no idea if they will ever be rebuilt. It is a serious concern. As for how much loss have we incurred, I think it can run into tens of millions of rupees,” said Mandviwalla who sounded very agitated.
Media person Javed Jabbar, who made a film in the 1970s, said: “It is a symptom, may be the cause, of the disorder of the psyche of some people, not all of them.
“Also, it is an absolutely unforgivable failure of governance. But at the same time it is a tribute to the power of creativity, the power of communication of those who bring the whole universe onto the screen. I think those who are associated with this art will be strengthened and energized by the incident and will not get intimidated by it,” he said.
The young video director and aspiring filmmaker, Sohail Javed, said: “I fail to understand how burning down a cinema in a city already deprived of life’s basic necessities will fix or change anything. It is sad and pointless.”