LAHORE: While a community mourned the deaths of over 90 people in two terrorist attacks in Lahore, cinemas and theatres across the city remained open as usual.
Generally, theatres and cinemas in Lahore are closed whenever there is a terrorist attack on the city or other problems affecting the state of law and order.
When cracker blasts took place in the Walled City on May 21, theatres and cinemas were closed down immediately.
The chairman of the Commercial Theatre Producers Association, Chaudhry Zulfiqar, confirmed this to The Express Tribune. He said that scheduled shows ran as planned after the terrorist attacks on Friday, and that no show was cancelled. However, he said, there was a drop in attendance at the city’s main theatres including Alfalah, Tamaseel, Naz and Alhamra.
The only show that was cancelled was a performance by Ajoka Theatre, which was scheduled to run at the Lahore Arts Council on Friday.
Zulfiqar said that the reason for this is that Lahore’s citizens have now gotten used to terrorist attacks.
“Theatre administrations have a commitment to the public. We were not intimated by the administration (police and law enforcement agencies) to shut down theatres so we decided to go ahead with our performances for those who had come to watch plays,” he said.
When asked if the theatres were not closed due to the fact that the attack was on the Ahmedi community, Zulfiqar said, “No, it is not that we didn’t close theatres because the attacks were targeted at a certain community. We just had a commitment to the people.”
But Zulfiqar also said that there was no government directive to do so, compared to previous terrorist attacks. “When an attack occurs in the city and the government has some law and order issue, we are asked to shut down theatres. This time we weren’t and we went ahead with it,” he said.
The attack was one of the largest of its kind in recent months, leaving 3,000 people trapped for hours.
Zulfiqar also told The Express Tribune that business went down by almost 50 per cent after the attacks. “Saturday and Sunday are ‘pure business days’ for theatres but this weekend revenue declined, as less people turned out to watch plays,” he explained.
Cinemas across the city also kept screening movies after the blast. Pakistan Cinema Management Association Chairman Qaiser Sanaullah Khan reiterated Zulfiqar’s stance. Khan said that no cinema was closed down after the Friday attacks. He told The Express Tribune, “The revenue generated by cinemas across the city remained low after the attacks; however no cinema in the city was completely closed. We did not receive instructions from any government authority or the police to close down cinemas and we could not do it on our own.”
Other events also continued normally. Savvy PR’s Aamir Mazhar told The Express Tribune that they did not postpone events being held during and after the attack. “There is a bakery in Lahore called Hot Fuzon, and it was celebrating its sixth anniversary so we went ahead with the event. Around 350 people actually turned up. People themselves are so fed up with such happenings.”
Mazhar is undecided on whether other events will go ahead. “Another event is coming up next week, and with Monday night’s incident (when four gunmen opened fire on the emergency ward in Jinnah Hospital), we are still thinking whether we should go ahead with it or postpone it.”
Published in the Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2010.