Revival of Pakistani cinema
Sir: It is a truth widely acknowledged that the once-thriving Pakistani film industry is now dead. The reasons behind this slow demise include the introduction of in-home entertainment, cable television, market competition from Bollywood and, finally, the Islamisation drive by General Ziaul Haq. The industry, which once boasted more than 700 cinemas, now has just over 100. The number of films produced in Pakistan per year has declined from 200 to under 25. Most cinema halls have been converted into shopping malls or housing apartments. The themes into which Pakistani films can be loosely categorised are: classical romantic films (1950s-1960s), Gandasa movies (1980s-1990s) and the amateur-sensationalist or ‘vulgar’ films that are aimed at salvaging the businesses of film producers. However, a recent spate of ambitious productions has raised hopes that the moribund movie industry may be on the verge of a renaissance. Projects like Humayun Saeed’s production Main Hoon Shahid Afridi, Shahzad Rafique’s Ishq-e-Khuda, Matteela production’s Zinda Bhaag and Iram Parveen’s internationally acclaimed, small-budget Josh are just a few of the reviving pills for Pakistani cinema. I would like to draw the attention of media giants to invest and produce quality films for our betterment and to provide competition to our neighbouring country. In this regard, the initiative taken by ARY films and the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) is worth mentioning. Upcoming productions like Waar, Operation 021 and Saya-e-Khuda-e-Zuljalal, whose mere trailers have put new life into Pakistani cinema, are all movies to watch out for. The quality of action and dialogues has improved with the ability to glue the audience to cinema screens.
It is refreshing to see Pakistani filmmakers taking a different approach from the past of singing and dancing, and creating thought provoking movies. Their aim is to stir the senses and create positive thoughts. Through film we can frame our culture and present it to the world. If we can make Pakistani cinema the backbone of our revival, it will lead to further higher budgets and a more thought provoking media. Our cinema owners, in the national interest, should not give preference to Indian films when our movies are ready for release. It would not be a bad idea for the government to restrict the import of Indian films in order to give Pakistani films unrestricted exhibition time.
M MOAZEN BILAL