Pakistan has promising young film-makers
Karachi: Pakistan has lots of potential as regards film-making. It is a very difficult business. We visited film production and training schools in Lahore and were mighty impressed by the skills possessed by budding film-makers.
So said Andrew Merkin, a film-maker from the US who was speaking along with another independent film-maker from the US, Martha Mitchell.
They were both addressing film professionals and the media at a programme titled, “Pakistan New Wave Cinema: Triumphs and Challenges”, at a local hotel Monday afternoon. They both were of the opinion that young Pakistani film-makers held lots of promise for the new wave cinema.
In the panel discussion that followed, noted Pakistani film industry personality, SatishAnand, tracing the metamorphosis of the local industry, said that over the past almost 70 years, the industry had faced ups and downs, but the downs far outnumbered the ups.
He said that there once were over 800 cinemas in Pakistan, 80 in Karachi alone. Pakistani movies, he said, successfully competed with imported movies from India.
Then in 1977, during the Zia years, came the “dark era” of films. The film industry, he said, was shut for nine months on the pretext of drafting new codes and rules for the industry.
Not having any business, in many cases, the cinema houses were pulled down by the owners on the prodding of the builders’ syndicates to make room for flats, apartments, or commercial structures.
However, he said that there were a whole lot of young film makers, like ShoaibMansoor, the producer of ‘KhudaKeLiye’. They were highly educated and intellectually oriented.
At the same time, Anand said that now cinema houses were the exclusive preserve of the very rich as ticket prices were really prohibitive.
Exhibitor and distributor NadeemMandviwala said that entertainment duties were very high in 1985. However, he said it seemed that cinemas were being designed only for five percent of the masses.
“With the 30-year gap, will we be able to make worthwhile films?” he queried, “We need to create an infrastructure for production.”
Fakhr-e-Alam, chairman of the Film Censor Board, said that he found the rules very draconian. He said that there was a big disconnect between the government and the film world.
Film producers, he said, just could not recover their money because the films were illegally screened by cable TV depriving producers of huge revenues.
“The worst part of it is that prestigious multinationals become party to this illegal practice by advertising on these channels, while cable operators are illegally screening their movies. The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulating Authority (Pemra) has been briefed on this, but to no avail,” he said.
The Motion Picture Act, he thought, was obsolete in this digital age. “It does not recognise the rights of the people,” he said.
Another discussant, Jami, said, “Right now we are just copy-pasting Bollywood.” The panel discussion was conducted by TV star and chairman of Hunerkada, Jamal Shah.