Lost Cinema Culture of Karachi

Karachi used to be activity hub in 1950’s till 1980’s era. There is particular reason of writing this blog. Current generation doesn’t know about the glorious past of Karachi. When Karachi used to be a true metropolitan and an international city. Foreigners used to come to Karachi on vacations. It was time when dozen of European and American Airlines used to operate to and from from Karachi.

Cinema culture was on rise. Every vicinity has its own cinema during that time. 1970’s, at the pinnacle of Cinema Culture, Karachi witnessed approximately 130 Cinema across the city. Now, it is estimated that currently 35 Cinemas are operating in Karachi despite the fact that population is ten folds as compared to past. Cinemas were divided on basis of Genre and language preference and class of society for Films audience. There were high standards of etiquette for both audience and Cinema Management. Late entry was strictly forbidden. The biggest Seat in Cinema was Prince, Garden road with a total capacity of 1392 audience.

Plaza and Nishat were for Urdu Films audience. Scala and Godeon for foreigners and locals who want to watch English Movies. Lighthouse for Pashto movies, Regal was exclusively for Hindi Films, Palace Cinema used to exhibit comedy films, Capitol, War related movies, Paradise and Ritz used to feature action movies and Rex was for Drama and Comdey Lovers.

Drive In cinemas were the most popular Cinema Category of that era. There were many Drive In cinemas across Karachi. Mussarat in Nazimabad, Nairang in Liaquatabad and Kismet in Saddar. The biggest Drive In Cinema was “Murree”. Murree used to accommodate 700 cars in a single show. These Cinemas were exclusively for Car Owners.

Mr. Jamil who watched some movies in “Dreamland” while refreshing his memories told

“Before start of every movie. Management used to run an advertisement.”

Featuring a cartoon character stopping other from entering in Cinema.

First Cartoon Tell the second: Cinema is for Car owners only

Second Cartoon responds: Yes, I have the car. The first responds then you are our Guest

Drive In Cinema: Dreamland


Dreamland was the most popular Drive In Cinema and was also the first Drive In Cinema of Karachi as well. It was opened for public in 1963-64. There used to be a pole on driver side of window. Speakers are fixed on those poles. Audience had independence to adjust the volume. Shan-e-Mughlia Restaurant is the place where that Legendry Cinema once exists. The exciting part of that cinema was the scenes that are witnessed there. People used to watch movies while sitting in cars, on bonnets of their cars, while walking or while sitting on benches outside cafeteria along with enjoying their food.

1980’s brings the down fall of Cinema Culture in Karachi as well as Pakistan. Cinema owner started turning their places into auditoriums, commercial plazas and for other utilities. There can be various arguments on this decline. Most importantly, it was due to shifting of society tolerance and government interests.


  1. Yes I remember those days I was very young but still I remember that golden era of Pakistan film industry specially in karachi. Very big posters of movies used to make with oil paint but everything pearished

  2. Wow
    Simply amazing reading these articles as I used to be a movie lover specially loved every movie while my stay in karachi during 80’s.

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