The Capital Vulture: Pindi in 3D
No screaming children. No shewing gum on seats. No hooting during kissing scenes. Has cinema etiquette come around?
“Ok…so can I just leave my pack with you-”
This is usually the sort of scene that awaits me at Cinepax, the crown jewel of Rawalpindi. Because Islamabad proper doesn’t have any massive entertainment venues, we have to leave the city for a movie.
Still, Cinepax is no longer a novelty (thank God). People are getting accustomed to going to the movies; they’re learning to behave themselves. The crowd has become tolerable. Yet some issues remain unresolved.
Not allowing gum and lighters I understand - there are Rawalpindi sociopaths out there who’re fond of pyrotechnics and sticking masticated Juicy Fruit wads on the cinema chairs. But what could possibly go wrong if I happened to walk in with my doh paisa ke Marlboro Lights, sans a light?
Forgive me, but like so many things in Pindi I’m just trying to understand.
If anything, a cigarette is only mandatory after the trauma of excessive groping at the security check before you enter the building; and then the second round of heavy petting past ticketing. Is this a cursory search or are we trying to access my large intestine?
My friend, already irritated over the drive to Rawalpindi (he’s always the designated driver for these parts) and forced to navigate through a sea of slow-moving begums (enemy #1) at a recent Harry Potter screening, offered his own ruminations on the matter:
“Man, it’s probably because- excuse me, auntie- they think that if they let one or two people through with smokes, they’ll have to do the same thing for everyone. And you know how Pindiboys can get. ‘Yeh dekh, DEKH, oye hoye, cinema mein sutta.’ It’s not worth the trouble, I guess.”
I’m not completely satiated with the explanation. And the cigarette debacle is just a minor ingredient in the steaming bowl of surreal Nihari that is Pindi.
The second you take that right for the airport, life gets real. There are way too many buffalos being transported in trucks swaying perilously. It’s terrifying if you’re driving behind one of these and will be forced to consider bizarre scenarios a la what if ol’ Bess here slips out and crashes through my windshield?
But sometimes Pindi evinces a random sense of humour. Try three men, one trunk. No joke.
Three dudes were packed into the open trunk of a white Toyota, their legs sticking out, and looked like they were really enjoying themselves. Homeboys have given ‘human trafficking’ a whole new spin.
But the real magic happens inside Cinepax. And if it’s raining the place will smell like L’eau de Wet Pakistani, a truly scintillating aroma. However, there’s nothing scintillating about the bathroom policies.
Accessing the urinals is not a problem. Too many Pakistani men are terrified of using these heathen, western devices so they’re usually left vacant. The problem comes when you have to wait five hours to use the sink because people are overly vigilant about washing up. I understand that Harry Potter is a Haram movie about churails, Jins and Kala jadoo, but uncle, puhlease, there’s no need to conduct a full-on Wudhu in the ‘Gents.’ There is a line.
These minor inconveniences aside, our 3D Harry Potter played uninterrupted by the awkward national anthem ritual, rounds of load shedding, banshee children and unnecessary hooting.
This is a rare luxury, a new record for the theatre - not a peep when Ron and Hermione exchange saliva. Could it be? Like the highly anticipated 3D screenings, has cinema etiquette finally come around?
The vulture has absolutely nothing bad to say about the actual viewing experience. Highest honours.
Published in The Express Tribune.