LAHORE: There is hardly anyone in Lollywood who doesn’t recall Royal Park.
While the name may inspire visions of a spacious park with greenery, Royal Park is actually a congested area near Lahore’s Lakshmi Chowk that once used to be a hub for the film industry.
Film exhibitors, producers, cinema management associations and many other such offices related to the film business were located at Royal Park. The number of such businesses located in the area has been reduced to a few from hundreds.
When cinemas were razed to make way for shopping plazas and parking lots, film exhibitors and other professionals like cinematographers and production assistants quit working in the industry and switched their line of work. The axe also fell on Royal Park and gradually printing presses and food stalls replaced film offices in Royal Park.
Muhammad Hanif, who runs a printing press in the area, first started working there in the late 1990s. “When I started my business here, many film related offices were shifting from Royal Park and being replaced by printing offices. I remember there were over 80 such offices when I came here and now there are only five to six left,” he said. Hanif said that the place has undergone some change over last 10 years. “Every banner and billboard displayed in this area used to be of some film. Now the situation is different. Some film billboards are displayed here but then they aren’t changed for years as no new film billboard replaces it,” he said.
Munir Mani, a former film billboard painter, says that Royal Park used to be a place where artists, producers, film exhibitors, and other related professionals gathered. “I was a billboard painter. And 12 years ago, there were at least 100 painters who used to work at Royal Park. Now you won’t find a single one,” he said.
United Film Association chairman Amjad Farzand Ali, who used to have an office there, said that there were hundreds of film related offices in Royal Park. “Film exhibitors, producers, cinema management people and many others used to have offices there,” he explained.
Filmmaker Sangeeta said that she remembered Royal Park as an extension of Lollywood but it now comprises food shops and printing presses.
The conversion of Royal Park is yet another sign of the toll the death of the film industry has taken on the city of Lahore, and the number of associated professionals who lost their jobs as a result of the decline in the number of film productions.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2010.
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