Pop In: Video Library at Zakir Nagar; Khadeeja Arif
It was the spring of 1999. Sheikhu was quite out of work. He could not do well as a property agent. A plot in Zakir Nagar meant much. On top of that two shops were also lying vacant. What was the best business to be set up just in the premises of the house? A General Store or a phone booth? Perhaps, a music shop sounded a good idea!!
Audio cassettes have to be sold. But the customers wanted ten on ten, meaning they preferred to have all the songs of their choice recorded on one cassette rather than buying an audiotape of a film that hardly has more than three good songs. Well, in that case there should be a recording facility as well, along with the business of film music. There was no scope for audio Cds as it would cost too much. Or, perhaps, Sheikhu knew his customer too well! Or, the fact that there was hardly any such shops in the neighborhood would work in his favor.
Hindi song---2 rupees per song
Album/Pop song---3 rupees per song
English song--- 4 rupees per song
And, a blank cassette cost 25 bucks!!
POP IN was in its early stage and had not even been noticed by its customers properly that MP3 made its presence felt, throwing a choice of 12 to 13 films songs recorded in a single Cd. Customers were obviously mesmerized by it. Thus, audiocassette did not sound a feasible option at all. Recording business sustained though. It took Sheikhu very little time
to sense his customers' demand. Soon he started providing them MP3s more than the audiocassettes.
A jazzy name like POP IN sounded cool. Slightly intriguing though! The blue jazzy board boldly invites you to the land of music, masti and lot of cinema (both Hindi and English). A huge poster of Shahrukh and Preeti, in the best of their romantic gestures, on the jet-black glass door catches everyone's attention to pick up Veer Zaara. As I walked in the shop, a group of guys were going berserk-Hulchal was on! Somewhere in the crowd emerged Naeem, Sheikhu's nephew who looks after the shop, thinking that I was another customer who had come to pick up either Veer Zaara or Mughl-E-Azam (No imagination required to guess that).
"Bohat Achcha business kar rahi hai HulChal. Comedy hai na! Sab ko hi pasand aati hai aise filmey tau". (Hulchul (name of a movies) is doing pretty well. Its comedy no, that's why. Everybody like such films)
"POP IN was one of its kinds in the entire neighborhood. There were other music shops like the one in the Mirza Market but nobody had such a good collection of audio cassettes as the one offered by POP IN".
It was in 2000 that the local agent from the Palika Bazaar started supplying VCds of the latest films (both Hindi and English). Within no time POP IN was converted into a VCD parlor than a music shop. A small collection of audiocassettes and the recording business remain intact-though marginal.
POP In caters mostly to the factory workers/ students/ and women. "The fact that our shop is in the interiors of the locality, women feel comfortable to come and pick up the Cds of their choice in the day time when they are free at home".
One VCD for 20 rupees---12hours
VCD player with a TV set and four VCds for 180 rupees----12 hours.
Saturday is a busy day for Naeem and his other two brothers. All the factory workers watch the latest films of their choice on the Saturday night. Naeem 's duty is not only to rent out the VCD players and the VCds but also to make sure that the VCD player is connected/played well. If there is any problem with the player or the VCds, responsibility is on POP - IN. If any damage happens to the set/VCds during the show, the borrower has to compensate for that.
The most sold/rented VDCs are Dil Chahta Hai, Hera Pheri, DDLJ, Maine Piyaar Kiya. Dil Chahta Hai is still in demand. There is very little market for the English films though. Mostly dubbed films are in demand. Dubbed English films like The Rock the scorpion, King Arthur, Jeepers Creepers and Titanic are some of the most rented out films. Action thrillers/comedy films/love sagas/family dramas are sure shots as far as good business is concerned.
POP IN is no doubt the biggest VCds parlor in the locality. In fact the best maintained (good collection of both old and new Hindi films). During Ramadan the business is really nil. Only the qwaalis and religious songs would be played. On the day of Eid the business is rejuvenated. " There were at least five sets rented out on the day of Eid. It was really a busy day." Asserts Naeem.
Soon the BC'X multiplex would come up, would it have any impact on POP IN? I asked Naeem out of sheer curiosity: " Are nahi aap ko kiya lagta hai ki workers aur family ke log film itne mehgay rates per film dekhey gain. Aur cinema jaane wale log tau ab bhi jaate hai aur tab bi jayenga". (No, i don't think so. You think that workers will go and watch such expensive cinema? And people who used to go earlier will continue to go even now.)