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Moving pictures or films have always been a subject of fascination for people of all ages. Pictures projected from a celluloid tape had a certain appeal to it. Although the era of celluloid has long gone, that appeal remains the same. In Bangladesh, for a long time cinema halls were the only medium of entertainment. There were 1435 cinema halls across the country altogether but that number has plummeted due to various reasons and we only have less than a hundred of them today. Economic instability, social, and political issues are some of the reasons why the number of cinema halls has dropped this much. But let’s not dig deeper into that topic but rather let’s focus on the popular cinema halls of Dhaka and how they came into being.

Historical Cinema Halls

celluloid films
The era of celluloid has long gone, that appeal remains the same

“Picture House” was the first theater in Bangladesh. It was founded during World War I in Armanitola by a Brit named Lazer. The name “Picture House” was changed to “Shabisthan” later. Many people believe the theater was owned by Nawab Yousuf Khan at first and Lazer bought it from him. This theater started its run with a Greta Garbo (Swedish-American actress) film. At first, two pictures were shown every day except for Sunday. Since Sunday was the weekend, three pictures were shown on that day. But the hall was closed at the beginning of the 21st century.

After Shabisthan, many cinema halls were built including Cinema Palace, the second cinema hall in Dhaka. It was built in 1924 and was located by the Chittaranjan Ave at Sadarghat. In 1930, another one of the most popular cinema halls of Dhaka “Lion” cinema hall was built. Apart from these, Azad cinema hall, Manoshi cinema hall, and Maya cinema hall were also some notable historical cinema halls of Dhaka.

Digital Cinema Halls

Modern cinema hall
After the digitalization of cinema halls, 3D movies started screening

Bangladesh’s film industry faced some difficult times. People would not go to the hall to watch movies due to either the lack of quality or because of digitalization. But that started to change when the era of digital cinema reached Bangladesh. After the digitalization of cinema halls, 3D movies started screening. Slowly, people became interested to watch movies in cinema halls again and the number of cinema-goers began to increase.

Star Cineplex at Shimanto Shambhar, Bashundhara City Shopping Complex, and Mohakhali, Blockbuster Cinemas at Jamuna Future Park, Shyamoli Cinema at Shyamoli, and Balaka Cineworld at New Market are the current digital cinema halls of Dhaka. High-quality digital projectors with surround sound systems, reasonable ticket prices, comfortable seating arrangements, clean toilets, and neat settings have made people interested in going to the cinema halls. Except for Balaka Cineworld, you can book your tickets online for all these halls.

Cinema Halls Of 60s and 90s

Cinema hall
Cinema halls of 60s and 90s have stood witness to many memories of the past

Established in 1964, Balaka Cineworld is among the oldest and most popular cinema halls of Dhaka. Located just opposite to Dhaka New Market, this traditional cinema hall hasn’t lost its appeal. Modhumita is another one of the oldest cinema halls of Dhaka. The hall started its journey back in 1976 before the country’s independence. Similarly, Avishar cinema hall (located in Tikatuli) is another popular cinema hall of Dhaka that still draws people from across the city. 

There are other famous cinema halls in different parts of Dhaka which may not be in great condition today but were once very popular among the moviegoers of Dhaka. Shaheen Cinema in Dhaka Cantonment, BGB Auditorium in Hazaribagh of Old Dhaka, Rajmoni Cinema in Kakrail, Jonaki Cinema in Nayapaltan, Poonam Cinema in Rayerbagh, and Geet Cinema Hall in Jatrabari were some of the most popular cinema halls of Dhaka that have stood witness to many memories of the past.

Most cinema halls of Dhaka have their roots steeped in history. Although some are more popular than others, there is no doubt that these cinema halls have an appeal that transcends time itself.

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