Revival of film industry possible: Mustafa Qureshi
Mohammad Hussain Khan
HYDERABAD: Veteran film star Mustafa Qureshi has said that the revival of Pakistani film industry is possible if the proposals put forwarded to government at various levels are accepted and implemented.
Qureshi is senior vice-chairman of newly founded United Film Association Pakistan (UFAP) launched by silver screen bigwigs early this year to work for revival of Pakistani cinema.
He believes that the UFAP’s launching can be a turning point for the film industry. “First of all we have worked out a code of conduct for us by committing not to promote obscenity and vulgarity and work for our own ethos,” he said in an interview during his visit to the city.
His proposals included exhibition of Pakistan’s Punjabi films in East Punjab, India, because these are much better than those produced in neighbouring country. Qureshi, in consultation with UFAP’s leadership, has pleaded a strong case of Pakistan film industry before President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Planning Commission and upper house’s standing committee on culture where he has been opted as a member.
“The president heard us for an hour as he is keen to see [film] revival taking place”, the film star from Hyderabad said.
He listed some crucial issues that needed immediate resolution like technology’s availability in terms of film processing laboratory, subsidy on raw material, latest equipments and skill enhancement training for technicians abroad the way scholarships are given in other fields.
“We need to exploit talent of our youth as they have great potential but they lack resources, opportunities and encouragement. They can produce quality work if patronised’, he said.
Awards distribution must begin once again and it should not be in shape of statue alone. “It must be backed by some monetary gain and based on competition”, he suggested.
“I think Rs10 million should be bifurcated among different categories which will encourage competition among directors, writers, actors and this amount can be sponsored by different companies”, he said.
Such an exercise will certainly make investors produce quality films whereas actors will strive to give their best.
Even those companies that are spending Rs40 to Rs50 million on advertisements can produce films which will serve as a tool for their products’ promotion on one hand and film movie production on the other, he said.
According to him, film processing is a major issue for the country’s producers who have to shunt between Bangkok and India for the job as Pakistan lacks such laboratory.
It raises film’s budget unnecessarily besides waste of foreign exchange as well but with such a facility at home budget expenditures can be reduced.
“In our industry sponsors have become producers”, Qureshi laments. “Sponsors want to produce films on characters of hoodlums and they conveniently ignore a positive line given by writers. I want a film on my father”, is what the sponsors ask writers to do and if writers refuse he is shown the door,” said Qureshi.
He said there should be a parallel cinema where quality films are produced because there are brains that can do that. For instance terrorism is an important subject these days. Movies can be produced on the issue in a positive manner for Pakistan’s image building abroad where every Pakistani and Muslim is being branded a terrorist, he said.
“Every life lost in an act of terrorism in the country has its own story and I am sure it can form basis for a quality movie the way Â“Khuda Key Liyay” was done”, he asserted.
One of his proposals pertains to film financing fund which exists in neighbouring countries and it can help expedite the process of film industry’s revival in Pakistan, too.
In principle he opposes Indian movies’ exhibition in Pakistan when Pakistani films are not shown and even Pakistan TV channels are not aired in India.
He said co-production with India is an option and it should be done without wasting time. Since the local industry is not capable of producing quality movies, co-production could be tolerated for the sake of survival of Pakistani cinema.
Qureshi said the government needs to come up with idea of mandatory small cinema houses in every commercial plaza instead of 1000 to 1200- seat houses.
In this suffocating environment where people are groaning under price-hike, lawlessness, terrorism and other issues cinema houses can still provide some sort of recreation to people for three hours, he said.