Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Film goers buy their tickets at Al Quoz Twin Cinema in Al Quoz Mall.
Jeffrey E Biteng STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Film goers buy their tickets at Al Quoz Twin Cinema in Al Quoz Mall.

Cinema in Al Quoz offers workers escape from reality

Since the Twin Cinema opened in January, hundreds of labourers have flocked each weekend to Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu or Kannada language films.

DUBAI // A new cinema in the heart of an industrial area is a hit among thousands of blue-collar workers looking for entertainment on weekends.

Migrant workers, mostly Indian, gather with co-workers or roommates to escape their stressful lives and indulge in a few happy hours on Thursdays and Fridays at Al Quoz Twin Cinema.

Before the Twin Cinema opened, going to see a film would mean a few hours' commute at an additional cost for Ram Kumar and his friends, who live at a labour camp in Al Quoz and work in Nad Al Sheba six days a week.

"We used to travel all the way to Deira to watch Tamil films at the Galleria," said Mr Kumar, an electrical engineer. "It used to take us two hours each way as we had to take the bus. Sometimes, we wouldn't get tickets for the popular films and had to return home disappointed."

"We had to spend at least Dh10 to Dh15 additionally on each trip, apart from what we paid for the tickets. That is quite expensive for us. Now, it's good that we have a cinema so close to our place. It feels nice to sit with a group of friends and forget our worries. We need more such cinemas close to labour areas like Sonapur and Jebel Ali."

Now, the workers are calling for more cinemas near their accommodations to save on transport costs and travel time.

The Twin Cinema is located inside Al Quoz Mall - specially appointed as a place for bachelors to shop, eat, or send money home. Since it opened in January, hundreds have come to watch Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu or Kannada language films every week.

Unlike Bollywood films, films in ethnic Indian languages are not widely screened in the Emirates.

"I watch nearly five films a month now," said Mariappan, a carpenter who lives at an Al Quoz camp. "In the last eight years I have been in Dubai, I never went to the movies. It was just too much effort to travel to the city and spend so much money."

"Every day, we wake up as early as 5am and are out at work until 6pm. By the time we get home, we are so exhausted. If we telephone home, we are met with complaints, problems or anxieties. Sometimes, the pain of being away from our wives and children is extremely hard. So, we mostly go to the movies to forget our stress for at least three hours every week," Mariappan said.

This past weekend's playbill at the Twin Cinema included the Malayalam historical fantasy Urmi, about the warrior clans of northern Kerala; the Tamil political thriller Ko; and the Telugu romance Mr. Perfect.

Tickets in the twin 300-seat cinemas are priced at Dh20 and Dh25, as opposed to the Dh30 and more that multiplexes charge.

Sometimes, charities step in to offer discounted tickets. One such welfare organisation is the UAE Tamil Sangam.

"We try to get a 10 per cent discount for workers so they have to spend only Dh15 for a ticket," said Ramesh Viswanathan, the group's founder and president. "If a blockbuster is released, everyone wants to see it. Easy accessibility and cheap tickets are a major driving factor for workers to watch films," he said.

Umar Hathab, an office assistant who lives in Sonapur, said a cinema near one of the biggest labour accommodation sites would benefit scores of workers.

"We lose nearly half a day each time we go to the Galleria to watch a Tamil film. So we visit the cinema only once a month. But, if there was one closer, we'd go more often," he said.

A cinema owner said more movie houses could open because of the strong demand.

"Our first preference was Al Quoz because it's an ideal location for workers living and working in Jebel Ali and next to the Dubai Investment Park," said Srinivas Rao, the owner of Al Quoz Twin Cinema, which is a division of the Dubai-based film distributor Phars Film.

"We have been in the business of films in the UAE for the past 10 years and we found that 90 per cent of our customers are blue-collar workers. Families usually opt to see only the good movies but workers aren't that way.

"We have plans to expand to Jebel Ali and Sonapur areas, possibly next year. We also want to bring in Bangladeshi films so we can target Bangladeshi workers too."

pkannan@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 An tenant in the Al Barsha area of Dubai has been sent a non-renewable contract by the landlord. Randi Sokoloff / The National

Dubai landlord refuses to pay back RERA fees after losing rent case

Keren Bobker helps a tenant who wants to know how to reclaim his RERA case fees and who has also been sent a contract with a “one-year nonrenewable” note.

 A customer looks at a large mock-up of videogame console Game Boy.  Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP Photo

Nintendo’s Game Boy at 25: hand-held legacy lives on

Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks its 25th anniversary Monday with the portable device’s legacy living on in cutting-edge smartphone games and among legions of nostalgic fans.

 JP Duminy played a cameo knock of 52 not out from 35 balls to tip the game in Delhi Daredevils' favour. Pawan Singh / The National

Kolkata Knight Riders lose way as Duminy sizzles for Delhi Daredevils

JP Duminy keeps his head as cameo at the death helps swing it in Delhi's favour in Dubai after captain Karthik plays the anchor role.

 A projectionist takes a break in the projection room at Ariana Cinema in Kabul, Afghanistan. Going to the movies, once banned under the Taliban, has become a popular form of entertainment in Kabul, but women and children rarely take part. All photos by Photo by Jonathan Saruk / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghan cinema: Forbidden Reel

The lights go down and the projector whirls into action as Sher Mohammed, 35, begins his routine, bouncing back and forth between two projectors, winding reels, and adjusting the carbon arc lamps inside the projectors.

 The mother removes the noose with the help of her husband from around the neck of Balal.

In pictures: Mother forgives her son’s killer as he awaited his execution

An Iranian mother spared the life of her son’s convicted murderer with an emotional slap in the face as he awaited execution with the noose around his neck.

Tyrese reunited with Fazza

Tyrese today posted on his social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) his pleasure at being reunited with the Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National