Odeon Cinema Abbot Road Lahore
The story of Odeon Cinema is rather touching. It was built by a Hindu millionaire who equipped it with the most modern machinery and high-quality furniture, but while preparations were underway for its inauguration, communal riots broke out in Lahore and after some months, Pakistan
came into being. The cinema was allotted to a Muslim refugee. In the beginning, Odeon used to show English movies but before long, it switched to Urdu and Punjabi movies. That is where I saw Patey Khan, starring Saddiq Zareef. Ibne Insha lived in front of Odeon. Maula Jatt was released on February 11, 1979. This mega hit film completed 130 weeks at Shabistan Cinema and 26 weeks at Odeon Cinema Lahore and combined 310 weeks Moula Jatt in its first run. This film also completed Solo Golden Jubilees in Faislabad, Rawalpindi and Multan and solo silver jubilees in Gujranwala, Sialkot, Sargodha and Gujrat. During it's second run Moula Jatt completed combined Diamond Jubilee at Metropole cinema (30 weeks) and Capital cinema (34 weeks) Lahore. At second run it was released at 27 cinemas and completed Silver Jubilee in first week and Golden Jubilee in Second week at Lahore - an unique record! It was the first ever Diamond Jubilee at Qaiser and Godian Cinema Karachi in second run. This film was prepared in just Rs. 600.000 and gained a profit of more than Rs. 60.000.000. Still average business of Moula Jatt is all time record in Pakistan !!
Abott Road, Lahore, Pakistan
Bitch Slap Played in Odeon Cinema on 16 November 2012:
Pakistan's Film Industry Is In Collapse courtesy articles.latimes.com - November 08, 2009 - Lollywood, a once-robust movie-making machine, has fallen victim to religious-based government policies, cable TV and DVD piracy: The Odeon Cinema's creaky, ripped red vinyl seats are mostly empty except for a couple of back rows where a dozen Pakistani men sit slouched, their eyes half-open, legs slung over the seats in front of them. Along the hall's bubble-gum pink walls, rows of fans barely move the hot, dank air. The Odeon's loudspeakers crackle like a ham radio. The feature on this recent evening is a Pakistani film called "Majajan," a love story. The barely breathing, Lahore-based Pakistani film industry produces less than a dozen movies each year, which explains why every day, three times a day for the last three years, the only movie screened at the Odeon has been "Majajan." Welcome to Lollywood, or what's left of it. It wasn't always this way. Back in the 1960s and '70s, Lahore buzzed with movie shoots, red-carpet premieres and box-office hits. The Pakistani film industry has always been based here, and though it didn't have the girth or dazzle of Bombay's Bollywood, "Lollywood" thrived in a country staking out an identity distinct from its Indian neighbor. In their heyday, theaters such as the Odeon had queues of Pakistanis snaking far beyond the box-office window and down Lahore's bustling sidewalks. Moviegoers dressed in their snazziest salwar kameezes and arrived two hours before a showing to secure tickets. Today, Pakistani cinema has all but vanished, a victim of the VCR, cable television, President Muhammad Zia ul-Haq's Islamization of Pakistani society, and finally DVD piracy. In 1985, 1,100 movie houses operated in Pakistan; today, only 120 are in business. The few directors, producers and cinema owners often rely on second jobs to make ends meet. Reviving the industry necessitates junking what's left of Pakistani cinema and starting from scratch, says Jahanzaib Baig, a Lahore cinema owner pushing for a revival of Pakistani film. Baig has been lobbying the government to clamp down on DVD piracy, a scourge that keeps Pakistanis from leaving their living rooms to head to cinemas. "We have hit rock bottom," says Baig. "We can only go up. Whatever we had before is not only destroyed but is obsolete in terms of technology and skills. So we're setting the foundation for a new film industry in Pakistan." Sangeeta, a Lollywood mega-star during the 1970s and one of the few survivors still directing homegrown films, says a revival of the industry can happen only if the Pakistani government lends a hand. "We need government support," says Sangeeta, now 52. "We need new cameras, new studios. Right now, producers aren't investing because the equipment isn't good." On the set of a television drama she's shooting, the hardships Sangeeta faces are evident. The cameras are dead ringers for clunky 1980s camcorders. There are no trailers, no craft service, no security to keep Pakistani passers-by from wandering onto the set. It all seems light years away from her glory days, when all of Lahore fawned over the curvy, vivacious movie star with the dark-eyed appeal. She got her start in show business after coming home from school one afternoon and finding her parents chatting with a Lollywood director looking for a lead actress in his new film, "Bangle." "When he saw me he said, 'That's my heroine!' " she recalls. She was just 13. Sangeeta went on to star in more than 100 movies and direct 80. Nowadays, she focuses on directing for television, though last year she directed a film for a producer who wanted a movie about himself. "Back in the 1970s, our movie industry was in full bloom," Sangeeta says, her eyes beaming behind black-framed Givenchy glasses as she remembers. "It was a great period for us. Everyone felt at home in the studio, and the work was deep in our hearts. Not like today." The advent of cable television and VCRs drew Pakistanis away from cinemas, but it was President Zia ul-Haq's religious-based policies that sped the industry's demise. Many cinemas were shut down, the rest were heavily taxed. New laws that required producers to have college degrees thinned the ranks of movie makers. The message Zia ul-Haq's government was sending to society was clear, Baig says: "We were being told that filmmaking was a vulgar and bad business to be in." As Lollywood's top-shelf creative talent dropped out of the flagging industry, scripts got worse and Pakistanis stopped going to movies. Bollywood filled the void; Indian movies flooded video stores and clogged cable channels. Pakistani filmmakers who stayed in the industry found themselves hamstrung by dwindling budgets. "In India, they spend $12 million on a movie, and we can spend maybe about $120,000," says Pakistani film producer Jamshed Zafar, who sidelines as an exporter of South Asian spices. "How can we compete?" One of the only directors still making movies, Syed Noor, has established a film school in Lahore to help seed a new generation of filmmakers. But most directors and producers gave up long ago. Sangeeta says a few went into television; most of the rest live off the incomes of their adult children. Every once in a while, some of them meet at Sangeeta's modest two-story home in a woody Lahore neighborhood to reminisce over tea and screenings of their old movies. The salve of nostalgia seems to work. Her eyes brighten as she leafs through a pile of movie posters and press photos from her halcyon days: Sangeeta in a Mary Astor-style pillbox hat, Sangeeta in a sari merrily dancing barefoot in the grass, Sangeeta coyly turning away from her mustached lover. Smiling, she sighs. "I wish I could go back there."
Lahore’s Old Cinemas by A Hamid courtesy dailytimes.com.pk - May 14, 2006 - A Hamid, distinguished Urdu novelist and short story writer, writes a column every week based on his memories of old Lahore. Translated from Urdu by Khalid Hasan: Lahore’s cinemas and theatres go way back in time and carry invaluable literary and, cultural associations. The first movie I remember seeing in a Lahore cinema was Dev Das, which I watched as a child sitting in someone’s lap at the Rivoli. The next movie I watched in this cinema was Vagabond Prince starring the famous leading man of those times, Shahu Modak. I could not have been older than six or seven. Although we lived in Amrtisar, we frequently travelled to Lahore where we had family.
Rivoli was originally called Munawwar Theatre and it used to show stage plays, but this I know from what I have heard. Personally, I have no memory of that. It was renamed Naulakha Cinema and then, finally, Rivoli. The cinema stood in front of the Lahore Railway Station on the road that goes to Badami Bagh. I was crazy about movies in English and Rivoli would sometimes show them, mostly horror. Since I never bought a ticket for the short train ride from Amritsar to Lahore, I would get down from the train as soon as it arrived at the station. Instead of taking the main exit, I would walk along the tracks and then climb over a wall and slide down an electric pole to land bang in front of Rivoli. I would buy a third class ticket and take my place on one of the benches where we all had to sit. I still remember some of the movies I watched here, including Frankenstein, The Wolf Man and Frankenstein and the Wolf Man. At the show’s end, I would return to the station, just in time for Pathankot Express, the last train to leave for Amritsar. If somebody at home asked where I had been, I would say that I was with my friends in Kakkar Mandi playing kabbadi.
Lahore’s Chowk Bhaati Gate was known for its cinema houses. They had been built when silent movies began to be made in India. I do not recall watching any silents in Lahore but I remember distinctly two that I saw in Amritsar: Subah ka Sitara to which I had gone with Shafi goldsmith, a neighbour, whose hand I kept holding as we walked to the cinema, and Salochna’s Madhuri. The first movie I saw in Chowk Bhaati Gate was AR Kardar’s Baghi Sipahi, starring the debonair Gul Hamid. It was a great hit of its times. I remember sitting on a bench right in front of the screen, wonderstruck and utterly fascinated. Another Bhaati Gate cinema was located on the road that leads to district courts. The cinema where I saw Baghi Sipahi was called Crown Cinema, I think. It has since been demolished and a road runs through the spot where it once stood. In another Bhaati Gate cinema I saw Sehti Murad. I still recall the storm scene where the doe-eyed Ragni is trying to run through thorny bushes, while making frantic efforts to keep her dupatta in place.
There were two cinema houses in Heera Mandi, one in the main square and another towards Taxali Gate. These two cinemas were quite dirty and bedbugs would crawl out of their chairs and benches. I once went into one of them and was out like a jack in the box at the first bug bite. I never went to either of them again. It was only after independence that I found myself in the one in the Heera Mandi main square where with a friend I watched two censored clips from an English movie. The Regal and Plaza cinemas are also quite old but I never had the occasion to watch any movie in any of them before Pakistan. Those two always exhibited quality movies, including in the early years of Pakistan, A Place in the Sun and I Confess, starring Montgomery Clift, my favourite actor.
McLeod Road was Lahore’s real cinema quarter and the most well known of its cinemas was Nishat. Then there were Regent, Ritz, Qaiser and Sanobar. They all dated back to pre-Pakistan days. In 1947-48, Indian movies used to be shown in Pakistan and Radio Pakistan would play Indian film songs. I saw the Punjabi movie Posti in Sanobar. Its music was fabulous. I recall watching it with the painter Anwar Jalal Shamza and the writer Nawaz. There was also Rattan Cinema where the office of the movie magazine Adakar, edited by our friend Qamar Ajnalvi, was located. The story of Odeon Cinema is rather touching. It was built by a Hindu millionaire who equipped it with the most modern machinery and high-quality furniture, but while preparations were underway for its inauguration, communal riots broke out in Lahore and after some months, Pakistan came into being. The cinema was allotted to a Muslim refugee. In the beginning, Odeon used to show English movies but before long, it switched to Urdu and Punjabi movies. That is where I saw Patey Khan, starring my friend Saddiq Zareef. Ibne Insha lived in front of Odeon and we saw many movies together. In 1950 or thereabouts I got a writing assignment for the movie Society, starring Musarrat Nazir and Sudhir. The production company had its office in Capitol Cinema, where several other industry offices were also located.
I cannot forget that day in 1964 when someone rushed into the Capital Cinema’s basement where I was sitting with some people and said, “There’s terrible news, a PIA Boeing has crashed in Cairo, killing many journalists, some of whom must have been your friends”. There were some residential houses behind Capital Cinema, in one of which lived a graceful old Afghan lady, whose daughter Momi Gul was the most celebrated PIA airhostess of her time. She perished in the Cairo crash. She was the poster girl for PIA and her full-figure picture used to appear on PIA hoardings and posters.
I must also write a few words about the dramatic performances given in tented facilities with a raised platform that served as the stage. These makeshift establishments would come up with the annual Urs of Data Sahib. The plays staged were based on love legends such as Heer Ranjha, Sassi Punnu, Sohni Mahiwal and Laila Majnoon. The venue was outside Bhaati Gate. Off and on, one would be regaled by performances of old actors who had worked with Agha Hashr. Women’s roles were sometimes played by boys, but quite often by women. Comedy, which was generally slapstick, was always popular. To attract customers, outside each theatre tent, there would be a clown making people laugh with his antics. I remember watching a performance of Sassi Punnu with Saleem Shahid in one of these theatres. Our tickets had cost us two annas each. Once during a performance, a man who was playing king, caught sight of a tea boy serving the audience. From his throne, he thundered, “Oye, Pheekay cha da ik cup pesh kar.” The tea-boy’s impudent reply was, “What kind of a Badshah are you? Ustad Jee says unless you clear the old bill, no further credit is available”. After this brief interlude, the performance continued with His Majesty issuing his royal commands to his courtiers who would have been beheaded had they followed the tea-boy’s daring lead.
Those theatres are dead and gone, as is old Bhaati, but Lahore lives, My friend Nasir Kazmi’s tribute to the city is hard to better: Shehr-e-Lahore, teri raunaqain dayam aabad: Teri galyon ki hawa khainch ke layi mujh ko. (O city of Lahore, may your lights never dim; It was the breeze of your streets that drew me back).
Pakistan's Cinema Owners Look To India For Help To Save A Dying Film Industry courtesy paktribune.com - 23 May, 2005 Lahore's Odeon cinema has seen better days. The Punjabi song-dance feature on the screen plays to rows of empty seats, the scratchy image and crackling soundtrack as old as the memory of a packed house.
Pakistan's once thriving film industry, which used to pump out 80 to 100 movies a year, seems in terminal decline. Cinemas are closing, and owners say the only thing that can save them is lifting a 40-year-old ban on showing movies made in India - a ban that does not apply to cable TV.
The Lahore-based movie business - known as Lollywood, similar to its Bollywood cousin in Mumbai, India - has suffered both from booming sales of pirated movies on video and DVD and from the recent spread of cable TV channels showing Bollywood blockbusters.
Only about 25 mainstream movies were made in Pakistan last year, and most bombed.
"The situation is growing worse by the day. Urdu and Punjabi (language) cinema is almost doomed," said Shazad Gul, respected movie director and chief of Evernew Studio, the main production facility for Pakistani films.
Gul, whose late father, Agha, was regarded as the country's first movie mogul, is converting sound stages on the aging Evernew lot in Lahore for television, seeing a much brighter future in making drama serials for the growing number of private TV networks.
Dwindling cinema revenues mean the films that do make it to the big screen are usually cheap productions with hackneyed plots and the same few actors that can only attract audiences with lots of blood-spilling and sexual innuendo - the latter tame by Hollywood standards.
"People just want naked bodies and vulgar dances," lamented Mohammed Aslam, a popcorn vendor at the Odeon, where only two dozen customers, most of them ignoring the no-smoking signs, came for a recent night's main feature - a 1971 comedy in black and white.
Lollywood moviemaking dates back to before the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan after independence from Britain in 1947.
Pakistani stars from the pre-TV era - like "Melody Queen" Noorjahan and leading man Mohammed Ali - were household names and drew big audiences throughout their long careers.
The business was helped for many years by the ban imposed on Indian films in the early 1960s, shortly before the two countries fought their second war. But theatre owners now say they need to show Indian movies because not enough films are being made at home.
Zoraiz Lashari, chairman of the Action Committee of Cinema Owners, said only about 270 theatres remain in Pakistan - down from more than 1,500 during the heyday of Pakistani films. In just Punjab, one of four provinces in Pakistan, 130 cinemas have shut since 2001.
"We are in a desperate situation. Film production levels are so low that they can't feed the cinemas with the raw material they need 52 weeks a year," Lashari said.