Posted By: Mohammad Masud
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Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore at Eden Gardens Stadium, Kolkata on April 6, 2023 Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan greeting the audience. Thousands packed into Dhaka’s cinemas. Shah Rukh Khan’s blockbuster ‘Pathaan’ hit the screens on Friday 12 May, becoming the first Bollywood film to be released in full in Bangladesh in over half a century. Divyansh Sarkar/AFP

Dhaka, Bangladesh — Shah Rukh Khan’s blockbuster ‘Pattern’ hits screens, becoming the first Bollywood film to be released in full in Bangladesh in more than half a century, hitting theaters in Dhaka on Friday. Thousands packed.

The action-packed spy thriller broke box office records when it hit India in January, and the star has a cult following around the world.

But Dhaka banned neighboring films shortly after its independence in 1971, in the face of lobbying by local filmmakers, despite India’s support for Dhaka in its war of independence with Pakistan.

“I am very excited to see the first Hindi film in Bangladesh,” said Sazad Hossein, 18, at a cinema in the capital.

“We are all Shah Rukh Khan fans. We are going to see Shah Rukh Khan on the big screen for the first time.”

Bangladesh’s cinema is in rapid decline, with poor quality local films unable to match or attract audiences to the glitz and glamor of Bollywood, with the aging Shakib Khan being the only lucrative star. .

While some cinemas have switched to illegal pornography in order to survive, more than 1,000 have closed in the last 20 years, many converted to shopping centers and apartments.

At the Modumita Cinema Hall, once Dhaka’s most opulent cinema, heroin addicts sat outside in front of a poster for the newly released Bangladeshi film ‘Gin’ this week.

“I haven’t seen an audience this poor in years,” said one theater employee. “There are only a few rows left.

Cinema used to be a mainstay of social life in Bangladesh.

“The hall was like a wonderful meeting place for the community of Old Dhaka,” Pradip Narayan told AFP at the Manosi Complex, where a 100-year-old cinema came to market in 2017. Told.

“In the past, women used to come here to watch movies at night. Neighborhood mothers and sisters often came, and when the show ended at midnight or 12:30, it was like a fair.

“Women also gave birth to children in this movie theater.

“Monopoly destroys business”

Authorities tried to lift the ban on Indian films when two Bollywood hits “Wanted” and “Three Idiots” were screened in 2015, but protests by local movie stars forced the theaters to cancel the screenings. forced.

Last month, the government finally issued a decree allowing the import of 10 films a year from India and South Asian countries.

“In Pakistan, the number of cinemas used to be down to 30 to 35. Then we allowed the import of Hindi films from India,” Information Minister Hassan Mahmoud said.

“Since then, the number of cinemas has increased to around 1,200 and the standard of Pakistani cinema has also improved.”

According to distributor Anonno Mamun, “Pattern” has been released in 41 theaters nationwide, and many performances in the metropolitan area have already sold out.

Allowing Bollywood films to be shown would be a “game changer,” he told AFP. “Everyone here loves Hindi movies. Many people love South Indian movies,” he said.

Mohammed Iftekaruddin, owner of Modumita Cinema and former president of the Bangladesh Film Industry Association, wants to turn his business around.

“I think 200 to 300 more movie theaters will reopen after this,” he said.

“Monopoly destroys business. Competition creates business.”

But Bangladeshi filmmakers are wary of the prospect, with some threatening to protest by wearing white death cloaks to symbolize the demise of the local industry.

“Don’t they know about the Nepalese film industry?” asked director Kizil Hayat Khan.

“Don’t they understand that the Mexican film industry was destroyed after it opened up (to Hollywood products)?”

Nevertheless, there is no doubt that there is an unmet demand among viewers.

Forest Service official Raj Ahmed, 30, traveled 250 kilometers (155 miles) from Khulna in southern Bangladesh to see the “pattern” but was unable to secure a ticket.

“I feel very sick,” he said. “I waited days to see Shah Rukh Khan on the big screen.” /A

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