LAHORE: The historical Metropole Cinema at Lakshami Chowk was temporarily converted into a theatre hall to stage a play for six days this Eid-ul-Fitr on experimental basis as its management is weighing commercially viable options.

The cinema was converted into a theatre hall under the name of Tamaseel Theatre-II. It is said to be the first time that a cinema has been turned into a theatre for only a six-day span that ended on Sunday.

The moving spirit behind Metropole Cinema Qaisar Sanaullah told Dawn that the cinema’s conversion was on an experimental basis and its management would soon decide whether the premises would continue as a cinema or turned into a theatre hall permanently.

Built is 1954, Metropole Cinema screened many hit movies, including Sala Sahb, which ran there continuously for two years. The cinema in its heydays had been visited by superstars of Pakistani film industry, including Muhammad Ali, Nadeem, Shabnam and others.

Like other single-screen cinemas in the city, Metropole too is struggling to stay in the film business, particularly for the last two decades. The cinemagoers in the city have virtually been divided into two segments -- those who enjoy films at multiplexes and the others who on every Eid or any festive occasion rush to Lakshami Chowk cinemas.

Though five Pakistani films have been released this Eid-ul-Fitr, a good number given the slump Pakistani film industry witnessed over more than two years, the cinema owners are still doing experiments, as they are unsure whether the films would click at the box office or not.

At a recent press conference, leading director Syed Noor, who has released his film Teray Bajray Di Rakhi this Eid, complained that his film was not being entertained by multiplexes. Speaking at another presser here on Saturday, actor Moammar Rana and film director Masood Butt criticised actor Haider Sultan (who himself is among the cast ) for terming the newly-released Punjabi movie Goga Lahoria a flop and saying that Punjabi films needed to have better production quality.

This shows that though the film industry is striving hard for a comeback, the fear of films turning out flop is pushing some cinemas to consider other options like conversion into theatre halls.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2022

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