KOHAT: All the four cinemas in Kohat city have been demolished replaced by commercial centres, thus depriving a large number of viewers of watching the movies on the big screen.
The cinemas were a big source of relaxation for the poor class which after daylong labour had an air-conditioned environment for as cheap as Rs50.
In the beginning families were attracted by the PAF cinema but with the passage of time, it also started playing Pashto movies featuring fights and violence which resulted in its downfall.
In early days, it screened English movies during three days of the week but then abandoned the practice. Now the young boys and families go to Islamabad to enjoy movies in quality picture houses even at the cost of paying many thousands of rupees.
Mohammad Hashim, a regular visitor to Islamabad with his friends, said the luxury of watching a movie at Islamabad cinemas was unique as the sound and screen were mind-blowing.
Two famous cinemas were owned by the army and the Pakistan Air Force, with the former constructed outside the walled city by the British as auditorium for their families in 1935.
It has been demolished and now converted into a marriage hall.
The PAF cinema also vanished with the time. Constructed in 1988 at a commercially ideal place at a corner plot it has been leased out to a private group of investors who have constructed a multi-storey plaza.
Still, only the structure has been completed but the shops are being sold like hot cakes starting from Rs6 million to Rs10 million on premium with monthly rent.
The oldest of all the cinemas was started with the name of New Royal in 1932 whose name was changed to Capital Cinema. Now, at its site stand a huge plaza, a hospital, a bank, and shops.
Haji Mohammad Akram, who owned the Flex Cinema, built in1944, while narrating the history of the picture houses, termed the phenomena as a dilemma, but said the dying industry could not support their families. He said that people were more interested in building shopping plazas and nobody was ready to take the risk of constructing Peshawar or Islamabad-like cinemas with millions of rupees as nobody would pay even Rs100 per ticket.
Historian Prof Mohammad Iqbal commented that historical places should be preserved with the help of the government. He regretted that those nations who did not remember their past were forgotten forever.
Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2019