The Nishat opened the year that Pakistan was born. 1947 brought in millions of hopeful souls to the newly created state of Pakistan and Nishat opened its doors to screen films from all over the world. It survived many mob attacks and underwent many repairs throughout its 73 year life cycle. Yet, the cinema finally suffered a blow it couldn’t withstand in 2012. Mob violence triggered by a blasphemous video uploaded to YouTube brought the Nishat down.
The cinema was beloved to many moviegoers and artists alike. Veteran Jawed Sheikh remembers fondly how the Nishat was a part of his life well before he ventured into films. TV veteran Behroze Sabzwari opined that it was the best cinema in Pakistan before it was torn down.
Nishat was owned by Nadeem Mandwiwala, the owner of Atrium and Centaurus cinemas. The cinema was also part of a dying breed of single screen cinemas where class divide didn’t matter. Today’s multiplexes and multi-screen cinemas cater to the elite and upper middle class. They sell tickets and amenities at high prices which the lower and lower middle classes can’t afford. In a time of ever-increasing inflation, the few surviving single screens are the only ones that the masses can flock to.
At one time these were the only option. The world over, huge single screens were the center of cinema. Sure, seats closer to the screen cost less, those at the very top sold for a little more. However everyone, from the daily wage worker to the businessman, was in the same boat. Waheed Murad’s “Armaan” and Gregory Peck’s “The Guns of Navarone” were easily accessible to all. But no more.
Nishat’s destructed structure has finally been completely torn down. Who knows what will be built in its place? The only thing we know for sure is that it won’t bring the same Nishat.