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Youth quake: The lure of the cinema

January 17, 2010

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With the influx of both Hollywood and Bollywood films, the cinema culture in our country is growing by leaps and bounds. One noticed that when Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man's Chest was playing in local theatres, they were always full and this scribe knew people who went to watch it several times. What's interesting to note is that for most individuals living on the 'this side of the bridge', the word 'cinema house' begins and ends with the (relatively) new Cineplex in the area.

There was a time when Karachi had a thriving cinema culture. My parents only speak of the days when they would often head off to 'the pictures' after school. When driving down the streets of Saddar (and related areas) they point out all the places which used to house a cinema. Some of the old movie houses still stand stoically there.

Having frequented them during my short stint at college I was surprised to find out that they're quite comfortable. Their screens are huge in comparison to what I was previously accustomed to seeing. The ticket is cheaper and so is the popcorn; the only problem is that it's not located in the posh side of town.

When I once suggested to a group of friends that we should go there, I was confronted by looks of shock and horror. It was as if I had blasphemed against the 'religion of the cinema house' or something and would need to be exorcised in order to 'return' to my senses.

Irrespective of where you choose to experience cinema (and for the record, certain celebrities prefer the old cinema houses in order not to bump into bumbling fans), anyone who's been to the place has stories to tell. Once when my cousin and I decided to watch an animated film (read cartoon) we walked in and heard a six-year-old boy protest to his mother “but they're not children!”

I assume his mother had told him the film (Monsters vs aliens) was for 'little' folks. However, his mother was quick to respond with, “Of course, they are sweetie... they're just 'grown-up' children!”

The screaming and crying children are one of the most annoying features for passionate aficionados as they ruined the entire film for them. The parents should condition their kids to behave properly otherwise they should be ready for some of the most amusing comments overheard while at the movies.

In one incident, the moment Federa-tion Captain Richard Robau (acted by our very own home-grown talent, Farhan Haroon Tariq) came on screen in Star Trek (2009), one teenager in the front row turned to another and said candidly, “arey, yeh to tera mamoo jaisa lagta hai!” (Hey! He looks like your uncle!).

It was said so innocently that for once, that I'm sure most didn't mind the vocal obstruction by that little one that took place in the middle of the film.

There are, however, some pitfalls as well. One of the most annoying things to exper-ience (other than cell phones ringing in the middle of the film, the electricity going out, people talking loudly, etc.) is when someone taller sits in front of you blocking half of your screen.

Tall people should learn the art of either crouching low on their chairs for the benefits of others or buy a ticket for the back row. With a tall person blocking your view, it becomes a pain for short people (like yours truly) to fully experience the film without a black blob focused on half the screen.