Six decades ago, Shiba Patel, who had immigrated to SA from Gujarat, India, about 20 years before, opened the Kismet cinema in Athlone, Cape Town. It was a vibrant, mixed area about 10km from the city centre. Patel and his family lived on George Street, near the Kismet and a café he owned. His neighbours were black African, coloured, and white. The cinema was the biggest of three in the area. It seated more than 1,300 people and was hailed by a newspaper at the time as the first "luxury cinema in a coloured township". The Kismet soon became a centre of Athlone life, attracting people from around the Cape Flats, including the townships of Langa and Gugulethu. The cinema usually showed double features on a Friday night — the late show ended at 4am and people walked home to the townships afterwards. Locals pronounced them "double futures", says Premesh Lalu, a history professor at the University of the Western Cape and a former student activist in Athlone, who has researched its cultur...

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