Rainbow Centre undergoes a change in Ramazan

Published: August 4, 2011
Posters of Amir Liaquat and Owais Qadri replace Sheila and Munni but adult film shops continue to operate undercover 

Posters of Amir Liaquat and Owais Qadri replace Sheila and Munni but adult film shops continue to operate undercover . ILLUSTRATION: ESSA MALIK


Famous for the variety of entertainment CDs and DVDs it offers, Karachi’s Rainbow Centre turns into a whole new place with the onset of Ramazan. There’s no sight of posters of “Razia Phans Gayi” or “Sheila Ki Jawani” and no demand for music. When customers are less interested in films and music, the retailers know how to keep their business running in an otherwise stagnant period for entertainment in Pakistan.

With the first day of Ramazan, posters of Amir Liaquat and Owais Qadri’s naat albums replace those of Bollywood and famous singers. TV screens that once showed dance videos to attract customers, start screening Amjad Sabri narrating naats, making the whole centre resonate with religious music instead of item numbers.

“I wore a religious topi and played the latest VCD of Junaid Jamshed’s naats as soon as the moon was sighted. After all, even we have to adapt to the changing business trends,” Syed Shakir Ali, owner of CD Plus tells The Express Tribune.

As soon as the month of Ramazan starts, the demand for films and songs face a sharp decline as the sales of albums featuring naats, qawwalis and religious sermons get a boost.

“The consumer demands surprisingly change during Ramazan. The sales of religious music make sense but after that, Umer Sharif’s stage shows have the most demand during this month,” says Ali. Many shopkeepers also say that the sales Pakistani soap operas increase during this month and are bought by men, women and even teenagers.

While most shopkeepers deny selling adult movies during Ramazan, it is not difficult to get these products. And those who continue to sell them have their own reasons.

“The business (of adult films) goes down, but it does not end as I have sold a couple of CDs since morning,” says a shopkeeper who wishes to remain anonymous. “The basic demand and supply formula applies here as well. The demand decreases but it never finishes and we have to keep the kitchen running. Mostly, it’s the people going back to their villages in interior Sindh who buy a whole stock before leaving,” he adds.

Though the demand of entertainment films generally goes down, the sales of religion-themed films like The Message and The Ten Commandments increase during Ramazan.

Raheel, a shopkeeper at Big Ben DVD believes that the month also shows a pattern of changed choices. “People start buying old Bollywood songs by Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi instead of the latest Bollywood music. However, overall business goes reduces from Rs2,500 per day to around Rs500.”

When many shops in the Rainbow Centre suffer during Ramazan, shops like Faizane Ashraf that only sell religious content flourish during this month, as well as in Rajab and Shaban.

“In Rajab, we have the urs of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. So, Sufi music by artists like Sain Zahoor sells a lot. In the month of Shaban, we have Shab-e-Meraj. Hence, a number of religious programmes on Islamic history and narrations about the holy journey are sold during. During Ramazan, anything that reminds people of the day of judgement sells,” says Tahseen the owner of Faizane Ashraf.

While the business in Rainbow Centre is generally on a decline during Ramazan, shopkeepers are optimistic that they will  rake in sales around chand raat.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Damn
    Aug 4, 2011 - 10:42PM

    Lol very ironic yet real:)


  • Prometheus
    Aug 5, 2011 - 6:37AM

    While I can just pin this on “irony” and let the matter be, this article presents a a serious analysis of the moral conflicts emerging within our society. The picture shows it to be a “split society” and this social dynamic is a cause for our sufferings.


  • Aug 5, 2011 - 10:22AM

    Though this business stinks – it shows that the people of Pakistan are not going to completely give in to authoritarianism. The extent of corruption which exists which no one has the courage to stop – the unreasonable censorship almost everywhere on just about everything (the autocrats refusing to grow up realising that there is such thing as adult entertainment) – the people will express their resentment in way or another. We have closing times for theatres which does not exist anywhere in the world they run round the clock. Permissions has to be had for conducting fashion shows. Only the corrupt want to censor things or ban everything..


  • x
    Aug 5, 2011 - 11:34AM



  • Osama Sarwar
    Aug 5, 2011 - 2:38PM

    Tyranny and Irony prevail in the country.


  • Aug 5, 2011 - 3:33PM

    Life must go on… whatever way it has to


  • Choas A.D
    Aug 6, 2011 - 2:02AM

    Porn is normal human sexual behavior. Get over it. Don’t spread it around like the ebola virus, let consumers be discreet in their consumerism, but acknowledge that it isn’t the end of the world/ sign of the end times. Life goes on, and porn has been around as long as life itself. sheesh. At least the Sindhi villagers in the interior will be a little less frustrated and quit taking it out on their women for awhile….


  • Aug 6, 2011 - 2:30PM

    It is just hypocrisy manifesting itself. Going to the store is a big no-no as people may see you there. Dvddirect (we deliver movies) actually does better in Ramazan than normal since most poeple like to watch sheila ki jawani while fasting :D


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