A makeshift cinema under 140-years-old bridge for poor people

Makeshift Cinema

This is a place where use of easily available things have been made to convert it into a theatre. It has a humble set up where rusty iron floor of a bridge working as the ceiling of the cinema house. The organisers are the local shopkeepers, who have made an enclosure by covering the place with blankets, bed-sheets, curtains and cloths whatever available. A 32- inch LCD television has been installed at front and rest space being used as sitting space.
Poor rickshaw pullers, small vendors and others can watch cinema by paying a ticket of Rs 10. Mohammad Noor Islam, a junk dealer and one of the regulars at the cinema under the bridge over the Yamuna river, said, “It helps to keep them away from bad habits like drugs and gambling.”
The dark and breezy environment of the “cinema hall” provides relief for daily laborers from their jobs on the city’s sweltering streets where temperatures have soared as high as 47 Celsius in summers. After dark, this place become night shelter as well, “Watching movies helps us to forget many tensions. I was tensed earlier but when I sat down to watch the film I felt my tension easing,” said Manoj Kumar, a rickshaw puller from Bihar.

The Idea
Nooruddin Mohammad, one of the founders of this makeshift cinema, describes: “I have my shop nearby this place. I used to see people like rickshaw pullers and vendors staring posters of bollywood movies. Once I asked a rickshaw puller – ‘do you want to watch cinema’ he replied, ‘Yes, but I know I can never because I can’t spare Rs 200 for a three hour show. I earn these 200 rupees with several efforts, I have to purchase many household items with this money.”

“That innocent answer of the poor man shook me. I shared this idea with my friends. We thought a little and started this makeshift cinema under bridge,” said Nooruddin. On an average day, about a 100 people use the cinema hall to watch films, rest and catch up on some sleep.

Ishfaq, one of the cinema’s co-founders, runs a small food stall nearby. He said it was an excellent place for people to unwind after hours of hard labour.


They are facing several issues, but, the locals simply love watching movies at the makeshift theatre. Mohammed said: “Sometimes Municipal Corporation and local police force us to stop this. But, on a human ground we are running this cinema with our majority of votes. We discussed this issue with many NGOs and social workers; they have been helping us to continue.”

On an average day, about a 100 people use the cinema hall to watch films, rest and catch up on some sleep. But Ishfaq fears it won’t run for long time as the authorities are putting pressure on them to stop it also many local goons try to capture space.
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