One of the oldest cinema houses in sub continent now stands derelict and abandoned The film industry of Pakistan has picked up pace and we are hopeful that it will soon gain back its lost value and position but who is looking to revive the old and historic cinema houses of the country? If we look into the history of cinema and film we get to know that the city of Lahore had always been the centre of art, literature, poetry, acting, theatre, film, crafts, music, writing, etc, and many known artists were born and performed here. The fact that many Indian artists were also born in Lahore and started their careers from here cannot be ignored. The shop of famous Indian singer Muhammad Rafi where he used to sell tea is located inside Bhati Gate and house of famous Indian Actor Om Prakash is also located in Koocha Beli Raam inside the Lohari Gate. When we talk about neglecting such places we also see several cinema houses in Lahore which are now abandoned and derelict and no one raises any voice against this despite being in the film industry. Many of the cinemas inside the walled city and other parts of Lahore have been converted into plazas and other commercial units but no one recalled or noticed that those cinemas were once among the popular and known cinemas of Pakistan and sub continent. Here I am taking you to one of the oldest cinemas of the sub continent, located inside Taxali Gate. This is the cinema known as Pakistan Talkies. Previously there was a trend of motion pictures but as voice and dialogues were introduced in movies they began to be known as talkies, and this is why the cinema was named as Pakistan Talkies –no doubt an interesting name. Historians and many senior filmmakers admit that Pakistan Talkies was among the few first cinemas of the sub continent and probably the first one in Lahore that was built during the British Raj. At present the cinema house is not functional and previously adult films were being screened here. Next to the cinema is the old Aziz Theatre which was also one of the first theatres in Lahore. The theatre too is closed and the building is derelict and collapsing. Pakistan Talkies is dilapidating and I wonder why the cinema association or actors and producers do not pay any attention to its restoration and preservation. There is an iron grill gate with a lock on it which is a sad sight and the guard is strictly ordered not to let anyone inside the premises. It is shocking to see the present state of the oldest and famous cinema house and unfortunately most of the new filmmakers and producers are completely unaware of it. This is our dilemma that we do not look after our heritage. Ugly and bold film posters which were once posted there are seen on the walls but torn. Madam Noor Jehan also performed at Pakistan Talkies when she was only six years old and hit films were screened here when the cinema was running with full glory. Pakistan Talkies has a British style architecture and was built with beautiful and intricate brick design and had an amazing hall which later changed. I wish like in Iran this cinema could be conserved into archives of movies and cinema history could be displayed here. This can be an ultimate museum of films as we do not have any such thing in Pakistan so far. Also, the classics films of sub continent and Pakistan can be screened here and the place should be opened up for families. If this place is turned into a museum and art gallery there is a lot which can be placed here like old cinema reels, hand painted life size posters which are a dead art now, filmmaking equipments and old cameras, etc. Regrettably it is completely different at present from what it should have been. This cinema can also be converted into acting, filmmaking or documentary making academy where the enthusiasts of the field could learn from seniors and masters of the film industry but I think no one is interested and soon this cinema will also vanish and commercialisation will take it over like in the case of Taranum Cinema. Previously Taranum Cinema in Taxali which was also known as Novelty Cinema was demolished and now a plaza is seen at that location. Taranum Cinema was also one of the oldest cinemas in Lahore and was re-named after Madam Noor Jehan. If we lose this cinema, the name ‘Pakistan Talkies’ and its existence will vanish from history and the new generation would never get to know about it. Restoring this cinema would be one way to pay tribute to our senior filmmakers, actors, singers, directors and other artists. Published in Daily Times, November 14th 2018.