Westside BID today paid tribute to Tariq Mumtaz, a larger-than-life character who greeted thousands of customers to Cineworld Broad Street every week.
Known as ‘Big Tariq’ to everyone who met or worked with him, the Cineworld team member became what his boss called “the face of the cinema” due to his “amazing smile”.
But just weeks after completing 21 years of sterling service, the father-of-two died earlier this week at the age of 40.
Mike Olley, general manager of Westside BID, said: “I knew Tariq very well indeed and he was a warm, generous man. He was devoted to film and in particular he loved his work at Cineworld.
“He was a beacon of energy, positivity and joy, and his smile and simple pleasantries that he would extend whilst ripping tickets was itself enough to cheer the day.
“His encyclopaedic knowledge of films was reiterated with such passion he could summarise films into easy to consume narratives.
“He was a fine human being, one of the best of people, certainly one of life’s natural angels. I feel privileged to have known him and shared space with such a fine man, and I’m genuinely shocked by his untimely death.
“My work is such that I am so regularly faced with people moving on. It’s a real sadness of the job. Yet that is balanced so often by the knowledge I will probably bump into them again somewhere in hospitality.
“But not Tariq, him moving on from Cineworld is final and that is so painful. I wish him well with his God and a restful peace. My condolences to his family and all who, like I am, are shocked, stunned and saddened.”
Jamie Sherwood, general manager at Cineworld Broad Street, said: “Big Tariq was invaluable to our site – he was the face of Cineworld Broad Street, the first face you would see when you came to see a film as I did before I started to work here.
“Big Tariq was something special. If I came in with my own children he would pinch their cheeks or ruffle their hair – he was a very positive force who will be greatly missed.”
Film boffin and Birmingham Mail journalist Graham Young said: “You could tell he loved his job because every day you saw him it was written all over his beaming face. He would greet customers from all walks of life as if they were old friends.
“Big Tariq was a throwback to the days when traditional cinemas had curtains and ushers, turning the process of greeting people all day long into an effortless art form.
“He never forgot a name. As well as checking age-appropriate tickets – because that’s the law – he knew that by truly welcoming people to the cinema he would add to the experience of making them feel at home.”
Big Tariq’s funeral was held on Thursday morning. He leaves a wife and two children.
Picture © Graham Young