For moviegoers in Karachi, Phase VIII in the Defence Housing Authority is all set to become the ‘It’ destination with the launch of the Neuplex complex on Thursday, which claims to house the biggest screens in the country.
“We are all striving to make it to the big screen,” said Faisal Rafi, the music producer turned cinema installation consultant as he walked through the halls of what is said to be Pakistan’s biggest cinema complex. Rafi’s transition into the cinema business is fairly recent - till a year back he was known for guiding people through his studio where one could listen to the unfinished tracks of the likes of Strings and Karavan.
The Neuplex complex is located in an entertainment centre, called “The Place”, which is situated in Khayaban-e-Shaheen. The complex has five theatre halls - 270 seats in cinema 1, 360 seats in cinema 2, 275 seats in cinema 3, 148 seats in cinema and cinema 5, which is a luxury cinema, has 48 seats.
According to Rafi, the standard cinema seats are of 18 inches but they have chosen to go for a 21-inch-seat which why where there could have been four to five hundred seats in the hall, there are a lot less.
“Experience is the key here,” he explained. “We could have easily stacked up people but that would have been tiring, especially when a major chunk of the movies come from Bollywood which are three hours long.”
Unlike the usual trend of situating multiplexes within shopping malls, Neuplex has no shopping area - just five screens along with food outlets. The projection systems are all digital 2k with cinema 1,2 and 4 also offering film projection. All five halls support 3D projection. The screens in Nueplex range from 50 to 60 Ft and are the first one piece silver screens of this size ever installed in Pakistan.
The project was initiated by Tariq and Jamil Baig, one of the largest government contractors and infrastructure developers, and for the last one and half year Faisal Rafi and Ali Diwan have been working as the consultants for this project.
“Jamil and Tariq had the vision of the best cinema complex in Pakistan,” said Rafi as he checked the projection system. “In terms of space, location and experience, and with the amount of time, money and skill invested in this project, the experience will be of the very next level.”
Setting a benchmark
“Our cinemas 1, 2 and 3 have the largest cinema screens in Pakistan. By that I mean even bigger then Nishat. They are all spread edge to edge” says Rafi.
Eugenetek, who are one of Asia’s largest Cinema Integration Companies, was hired for the cinema installations at Neuplex, and Diwan and Rafi represent the company’s Pakistani counterpart. They also represent Christie Digital, the world’s largest digital imaging company and a powerhouse behind the digital cinema revolution. The Eugenetek Korea and Eugenetek Pakistan teams put together Neuplex with teams from Poland, Malaysia, Korea and Italy flying in to make it a true international effort.
“The real achievement is that we are the first Christie Digital cinema in the country. Too put it in layman’s words, it is simply the best digital projection available in the market” elaborates Rafi.
Diwan was just as enthusiastic about the venture. “Everything down to the viewing angle and decibel level of the seats in Nueplex was calculated before the first brick was laid,” he told The Express Tribune. “The cinema has ample parking space, best franchises in town in terms of food and the best audio and visual experience along with the selection of films that our audience wants to watch.”
When asked if the prices would be jacked up later, Rafi replied in the negative. “People have to realise that we are not competing with anyone and that is the charm of the multiplex culture. Whether it’s Defence or Gulshan, every vicinity needs a multiplex and we are just doing that,” said Rafi, hoping that this latest complex would trigger a multiplex culture in Karachi.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2013.
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