Mohamed Kassamali Shah
MOMBASA MUNICIPAL COUNCILLOR WHO
OPERATED ISLAND'S POPULAR 'NAAZ' CINEMA
- - The departure of Syed Mohamed
Kassamali Shah ('Mithu' to his close friends), last week from this
world of pomp shows, novelty and entertainment on 'Silver Screen',
brings to mind about 50 years of continuous attachment to one cinema
They are some people who
follow their heart call ... it reminds me of the time we often
scribbled in our autograph during MIOME days:
"Life is like a
sheet of untrodden snow,
be careful how you step,
for every mark will show".
My shrinking memory
reminds me of a good-natured, clad in a Kaunda suit, with a tin of
State Express 555 in one hand and the keys to his office in other, a
gentleman standing in the foyer of Naaz Cinema, day in and day
out, before the prime performance time.
If I am not mistaken and
open for correction, his name should go in the Guinness Book of
Records for being the manager of a new-born Cinema House until, a
short time, before it's demise.
How can I forget the
opening of Naaz with a swash-buckling MGM movie 'KIM'
and 'NAUJAWAN' starring Prem Nath and Nalini Jaywant (of thandi
hawayein) with one of the maestro music director of those days S.D.
In those days, during
Mithu uncle's youth there was a lot of camaraderie and respect for
each other among his friends who were prominent personalities like Mr.
Gulam Sarwar Qureshi, Mr. Harbans Lal of Overseas Film Distributors
and Mr Chic Chocolate also a cinema owner in Dar es salaam ... and
here was his grooming of the art of running a cinema house.
Those were the days of
goodwill among friends: Once he was questioned by a friend how come he
was glued to cinema business for that long, as a person of his calibre
who also was the Mombasa Municipal Councillor ... Mithu uncle sighed
and quietly admitted ... because the word CINE...MA has a
sentimental value for him, for it ends with MA and 'I loved my
Among the long list of
celebrities who visited Naaz on their Film Premier names of
legendary Karim Asif, maker of magnum opus 'Mughal-e-Azam' and
actor and the present Minister of Sports of the Indian government Hon.
Sunil Dutt who had flown in for the premier of 'YEH RAASTE HAIN
Both times Mr. Shah
addressed his patrons in a well organized stage performance ... your's
truly was at both the occasions.
Distributors venture to enter the Mombasa market brought in rich
dividends for the filmgoers.
The Indian Film market
was dominated by Majestic Theatres in the absence of competition did
not permit them flow of Indian films as frequently according to market
demands of those days.
As soon as Naaz
opened its doors filmgoers had a variety of seeing two films a week.
The opening of Moon's
made the situation more fluid when spectators were longing to see
Baiju Bawra - which was lying in cans due to shortage of exhibitors in
Naaz under the
guidance of Mr. Shah kept-on recent releases like Awaara and Tarana
thereby keeping their competitors on their toes for bringing in
popular films to be screened as early as possible in the race to lead
the bandwagon which was slowly heading towards Naaz, so much
so, it forced Majestic Theatres to open a new picturehouse named Queen's
and it screened Daag, the most recent release of Bombay.
In those days it took Majestic
Theatres almost two years to screen a new film.
Mr.Shah leaves behind
one son and two daughters, Zahida married to Mr. Sherrif Shahin and
Samina married to Mr. Akram Sheikh, of Shankar Electronics, a
It was sad that Mr.
Shah's illustrious wife Razia Begum Sahiba also died on 16th May this
Yours truly remembers
Mithu uncle frequently reciting this sher to youngsters:
"Jab tak jahan
hai raunaq-e-bazm-e-jahaan rahe Duniya me baamuraad raho shaadman raho."
Mithu uncle, May you
fare thee well, when you meet your Lord.
May the Almighty Allah
grant his noble soul eternal peace , and "sabr" to his
'Barey shauq se sun
raha tha zamaana, tumhi so gaye dastaan kehte kehte.'