For too long have the line of cinemas near Saddar ruled the cinematic experience in Karachi. A while ago, Karachi’s very first Cineplex was started up on Main Seaview, a little further than the Salt & Pepper Village building. Being a lover of watching movies on as large a screen as possible with as much buttered popcorn as can be consumed available during the experience, I have visited the Cineplex several times. What follow is a sum of my experiences:
I’m not sure how many of you would have visited the Cineplex when it first opened up. Those who did would probably have noticed the huge board above the enterance which depicted several classic movies with the hint of promise that they may be screened someday. From the start, as we approached the building, that board was always one of my favorite things to peer at. Yesterday, however, a visit confirmed that the lovely scenes from old classics have been replaced by one giant advertisment for some bank. Corporate sellouts!
Whilst entering, one cannot help but notice several distinctly unwelcoming signs, the first proclaiming that the venue is “For Families Only” and the second informing you that the Management reserves the right to deny admission. How much does a welcome mat cost, anyway?
Once inside, you are greeted by a shiny black tiled floor, shinier black walls and possibly a shiny black ceiling as well. To your left you will find the ticket counter. Above this counter is a ticker tape displayer which will let you know which movies are going to be playing in which cinema (they have two so it’s just barely a cineplex). Tickets cost Rs. 200 each, which is a tad on the expensive side for a one and half hour to two hour movie. Anyhow, opposite to the ticket counter is the snack bar, where you can munch popcorn costing Rs.60 per small “bucket” and Rs. 60 for a large Pepsi, which seems overpriced as well. Initially, whenever I would go, I would advise everyone to just purchase an ice cold can of the soft drink of their choice on the way, stash it in their purses and open them once in the dark screening room, but I suppose the management got wise to us and displayed a “No food from outside allowed on the premesis” sign amongst the other unwelcoming signs at the enterance with an armed guard opening the door.
Once you have your various snacks and tickets in order, you are led by a smartly dressed usher to the screening room. Each of the two rooms can comfortably house upto a hundred people and I have yet to see one that is even halfway occupied during a screening. Despite the lack of a mob fighting for the best seats, the ushers are prissily fussy, as only men who are forced to wear bright red vests to work everyday can be, about one sitting on the seat which was issued to said person, even if its in the back and all the rows in front are empty.
This being done, the movies have great sound, good prints, air-conditioned (an essential factor in the heat) and a crowd that (blessedly) does not shout lewd remarks and initiate mass whistlings whenever a female is on the screen. What ruins it all is the managements obsession with Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama. I visited the Cineplex with a friend three months ago and, due to the lack of choice, watched Sweet Home Alabama. Yesterday, I was informed that they had just switched movies and the new arrival was “Sweet Home Alabama” again.
The bad news is that it’s expensive, especially if you have kids along, and there’s little choice by way of what to watch since one theatre is always playing childrens’ movies and one seems to be forever playing Sweet Home Alabama. The good news is that the place can be booked if you’re fabulously wealthy and that you can call in advance to ask which movies are on (definitely a recommended move) at 5840996-7.