It was after the controversial film Innocence of Muslims that Karachi’s Capri Cinema was shut down in September, and it’s with the Salman Khan-starrer Dabangg 2 that its gates are opening to the public once again.
Six cinema halls were torched in Karachi and Peshawar on September 21 when violent mobs tore across the cities and set fire to them. Out of the halls burnt, only two have got back to business.
Chaudhry Asif, the owner of Capri, held a press conference on Thursday to say that Dabangg 2 meant business and a new life for the cinema hall. Asif was quoted by a Pakistani newspaper as saying, “They (mobs) can keep breaking down cinemas and we will keep building them.” Capri was actually slated to start its new innings with Khiladi 786, which released on December 7. However, renovation work finished only in time for Dabangg 2, that released worldwide on December 21.
Outrage over the Innocence of Muslims resulted in rioting across Pakistan on September 21. Besides, Capri, Karachi’s Nishat, Prince and Bambino cinema halls were also damaged by mobs.
Bambino, which reopened before Capri, is being hailed as the real symbol of defiance. It screened the Emraan Hashmi-starrer Rush on October 26. “Bambino, fortunately, wasn’t damaged as much as Capri and Nishat. Hence, it could return to business sooner,” said Nusrat Amin, senior journalist with Geo News. Bambino is owned by Hakim Ali Zardari, the father of Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari.
The other halls suffered more damage. Their financial losses are said to have crossed 140 million Pakistani rupees.