Cinema hall closure robs workers of all entertainment
DOHA THE closure of ‘Industrial Area Cinema’ (IAC) has robbed over 200,000 South Asian expatriates working and residing in the Industrial Area, away from the dazzle of Doha, of their only source of entertainment and fun. This lone film theatre-cum- auditorium, catering to the denizens of Industrial Area, closed six years back only to make the lives of singly living workers all the more drab and dreary.
Before closure, this film theater attracted large numbers of Industrial Area people who thronged it to watch their favourite Hindi, Malyalee and Tamil films on the big screen. Now these people have no other place where to unwind themselves at the end of a hard day’s work. And worse still, passing week-ends becomes much of an ordeal for them.
Bored almost to death, large numbers of workers head straight for Doha on week-ends to seek escape from their lonely existence in watching films, musical and cultural programmes or swarming malls.
That could be the reason why Doha’s shopping malls burst at the seams on week- ends and on public holidays. Managing this weekend crowd of Industrial Area workers flooding Doha may pose a problem for the police, but it may be unfair to keep these entertainment- starved labourers out of the city on week-ends.
Only six years back, this crowd was unknown to Doha thanks to the IAC on Street No 37 in the Industrial Area, which offered the residents easy access to entertainment.
No wonder, this movie theatre was their first port of call on holidays. Though one part of the theatre has been converted into a warehouse and bachelors’ accommodation, it still reminds one of the lowincome workers’ lovely past.
Once, IAC used to be one of the busiest theatres in the country with the capacity to seat 1000 spectators. Almost on all days, the theatre would be packed to capacity for each show. On weekends, hundreds of people queued up at the booking counters long before the start of shows.
Ahmed Abdul, a Bangladeshi driver said, “On week-ends, the theatre premises and its surroundings would have people swarming all over. There would be a carnival- like scene.” Although screening of films completely stopped four years or so ago, cultural programmes and other entraining events continued to be staged in the theatre until 2005. The last cultural programme held at IAC was in August 2005.
Reminiscing about the golden past of the IAC, a Malayalee owner of a grocery shop in the area said, “Sometimes, some crazy movie buffs would watch one film three or four times in this theatre. The ‘serious’ and heated discussions of the films seen were part of the scene around this theatre.
Sometimes, the discussion extended into mornings.” Hindi film ‘Sholay’ and Malayalam movie ‘New Delhi’ were among the box-office super hits screened at the IAC in its heydays, inspiring excited discussions, recall the residents.
It’s notable that while the expatriate organisations raise voice for opening of more cultural centres in Doha, their leaders conveniently forget poor people of the Industrial Area and their need for recreation.
These expat leaders never open their mouths to lend support to the workers’ demand for a new theatre in the area. It is estimated that more than 200,000 expatriate singletons from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are residing in the Industrial Area.
The authorities may note that if a new entertainment centre opens in Industrial Area, it will help stop or minimise the flow of Industrial Area workers to Doha on week-ends.
Though the Ministry of Interior had during the festive season organised a big cultural event in the area tow years ago at which prominent film artistes from Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh had performed, a permanent film theater or entrainment centres in the Industrial Area remains a dream for its denizens.