The bigger picture: Pakistan-India clash comes to big screen in Mohmand

Cinema owners in provincial capital also screen eagerly anticipated match

Hidayat Khan/mureeb Mohmand March 19, 2016
Match screening under way in Mohmand. PHOTO: EXPRESS

PESHAWAR/ CHARSADDA: The Pakistan cricket team has some of the most resilient fans in the world as they raise their hopes every time the boys in green take on arch-rivals India in a world cup, despite having lost all previous encounters.

The situation is no different in 2016 and while people from the tribal areas may have grievances against the federation, they all stood united for Saturday’s crucial tie.

The Mohmand Agency political administration arranged a large screen and several people were expected to gather for the match.

Upper Mohmand political administration officials said this was the first time such a live screening had been organised in the area.

Assistant Political Agent Mohmand Haseebur Rehman said the eagerly anticipated clash will be screened at the Ghallanai Jirga Hall in Mohmand.

He added tribespeople were invited to attend and support their team. As many as 500 people can sit at the hall and enjoy the day’s cricket. He said authorities wanted to promote peace by arranging such gatherings.

Rehman added the second Mohmand Sports Festival was also organised to encourage healthy activities among the youth. A grand final and prize distribution ceremony will be held on March 23 when prizes will be handed out as well.

A city abuzz

Bloodied clothes and the roar of gunfire will be replaced by a field of green and the unmistakable sound of leather on willow as cinemas houses in the provincial capital will be screening the match. This is a drastic change from the violent Pashto movies that have been shown rest of the year round.

Cinema owners believe this will help the financially struggling cinemas of the city.

“It is an effort to help the cinemas earn and provide an opportunity for the youth to watch the match on a big screen,” Capital Cinema Manager Khalid Khan said.

Alongside film posters, the walls and halls of cinemas were adorned with pictures promoting the most anticipated match of the T20 World Cup—at least as far as the country was concerned.

“All the matches will be shown live in HD screen,” the manager said. Up till now, these screens were only showing old Pashto and Punjabi movies from last year.

Special arrangements had been made to screen the Pakistan-India match and upcoming games would be shown at the cinemas if there was a good response to this venture.

The ticket price for the match was fixed between Rs100 and Rs300, but few fans turned up to buy them till the filing of this report.

However, the administration of the movie theatre believed that load-shedding in the city and surrounding villages will draw the crowds come game time. Perhaps advertising has a role to play in the low interest as the cinemas did not run campaigns for the screening like they do for movies.

The management of the cinema claimed the match was going to be screened in high definition, but reality is that most screens in the provincial capital are decades-old and have horrific sound systems. This not only dissuades people from coming to cinemas for films, but also cricket matches.

The cinema owners talked about the lack of government attention towardS these historic facilities. Their conditions were in a state of decay due to insecurity in the city. “Unlike other parts of the world, cinemas here have to pay taxes,” said Arshad Khan, the owner of Arshad Cinema. He is also one of the leading film producers. Arshad pointed out that a peaceful environment and government focus was necessary to draw crowds back to the movie theatre. From shows to cricket matches, the remaining cinema owners in the city have left no stone unturned to keep the houses in business.

One of the film producers and actors also criticised the owners for their motives of profit. “The cinemas are for screening movies, not dance shows or cricket matches,” said the producer.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2016.


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