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Cinema Club

October 6, 2011

Last night’s launch of Jason’s Flix Fixer http://www.flixfixer.com/custard/ ) at the Custard Factory was a great night and got me thinking about films and my experiences of cinema. I am also very excited about our plans to develop this interesting concept where you get to choose the film that you want to watch and then enjoy fabulous food and discussion afterwards.

I have had an initial discussion with Jason about hosting a ‘Bangla film festival’ and he is very keen to support it. I am also aware of a young Bangladeshi film maker so theprospects are good. Wouldn’t it be great to get a Bangladeshi cultural scene started, especially as we are the original South Asian arty people. You only need to look at Satyajit Ray http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyajit_Ray for his contribution to film and literature. And need I mention Tagore!

From an early age I loved films – even the black and whites ones. My early recollection of going to the cinema, dates back to the early 1980s. I was mesmerised by Indian cinema. My sister first took me and got into trouble for coming home so late – some Indian films last three hours! When I got a bit older and had some money from my job as a waiter, I used to go the Grand Palace on Soho Road to watch the latest Indian films. The cinema was cold and full of smoke but even that did not deter me.

The 1980s were a time when video was popular but most people couldn’t afford them as recorders cost around £800.00, about the same as a deposit for a house in Lozells. Some video hire shops would rent out a video-player for a night with up to five films. We did that a few times and the whole family stayed up through the night. One of my cousins loved films and he bought a video player so suddenly I was at his house a lot, along with other neighbours. Their whole house was immersed in movies.

As I got older, I got bored with the Indian films as so many of them seemed to have the same script. I started going to watch English movies. I used to go with my school friends. We discovered the Kings Cinema, one of the first multiplex cinemas, had an offer for Monday nights of a £1.00. I remember watching “Back to the future”, ”Teen Wolf” and many more. My love for films continued and I went nearly every week. I loved the big screen, the popcorn, and the silence. The silence was not always guaranteed, with people commentating, which is very annoying. I once challenged a young man about the level of noise but we ended up in a fight.

In my early thirties, I was divorced so had time on my hands. Another friend, also divorced, and two single friends and I started meeting on a weekly basis to watch films. We would look at websites that were offering free foreign films then watch the films and afterwards go to Karachi Fried Chicken to extend the night and talk about the film. We decided to brand our regular visits to the cinema and call it the ‘Cinema Club.’ We started to market this to women that we knew and they joined us. They thought we were an arty lot, especially as we managed to watch foreign films, and the occasional Hollywood movie. These films, were great – capturing reality in a way that the Hollywood blockbusters never manage. I have great admiration for those foreign films which often leave a profound impact on me.

I met my wife during that period and asked her to join us at the Cinema Club. She came along on several occasions teasing me saying that it is just a bunch of mates going to watch a movie and we had given it a fancy name. Well, she was right, but it was great fun and broke the week up nicely. Once we got married, we would watch films as part of the Orange Wednesdays. One Wednesday, I was waiting to meet my wife to go and see a film. She was just over seven months pregnant when she went in for a routine check up, but they kept her in and our daughter – Maya was delivered six weeks early. This ended our regular visits to the cinema. Three years on, we have a second child Leya – so visits to the cinema are a luxury. We have joined ‘Love Film’, where we get films sent to us directly and sometimes we make popcorn to add to the experience – not quite the cinema but as close as we can get.

So this new initiative by Jason ‘Flix Fixer’ is such an exciting idea for me. Not only the films, but the chance to go and have a two course meal and chat about the film at Bay Leaf (http://www.bayleaf-restaurant.co.uk/). And for £9.90 a lot more convenient than Karachi Fried Chicken. My only regret is that as a restaurateur I work Friday and Saturdays limiting my evenings with my family. But I will support Jason, negotiate passes out for some of the movies, to bring back my memories of films, food and chat.

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