a research blog by Lotte Hoek
‘House-full’ signs are a rare occurrence in the cinema halls in Bangladesh. Except on Eid. Film producers can be sure to earn much of their investment back during the Eid holidays. Exquisitely dressed crowds streamed into the cinema halls on August 9th, 2013, to celebrate the end of Ramadan all around Dhaka, packing theatres well over capacity.
The Champakoli cinema hall sits just beyond the edge of Dhaka, across from the Turag river in Tongi. Synonymous with the many garments factories that inhabit this industrial zone in Gazipur, many have put the resilience of Gazipur’s cinema halls down to the continued dedication of labourers to popular Bangla cinema.
On this Eid day though, the crowd was varied but largely youthful and invariably enthusiastic. There were groups of school friends, cousins, young children with family chaperones and many others who had not left the city to return to ancestral villages to celebrate Eid. They came to watch the Shakib Khan starrer ‘My Name is Khan’ (in no way except name related to the Hindi film ‘My Name is Khan’). A few blocks down the road at the Anarkoli cinema hall Shakib’s ‘Bhalobasha Ajkal’ (again, no relation…) was equally popular.
Security guards, management and female friskers were hardly able to stem the crowds who flowed into Champakoli as the 11:30am show ended. This small clip shows the audience streaming into the vestibule of the beautiful Champakoli hall and the desperate and heavy-handed attempts by the guards to manage the flow. Apologies for the sound but it does bring you right into the manic energy of the holiday screenings at Champakoli.
Photo credit: Lotte Hoek