Islamabad, Nov 17 (IANS) With biggies like ‘Dabangg’, ‘Golmaal-3’ and ‘Guzaarish’ being screened and no new Urdu film being released, Indian movies were the big draw for Pakistani cineastes on Eid Wednesday with filmmakers admitting that the local industry just could not match up.
Pakistani cinema has been on the decline for several years and the situation this year seemed no different. There are hardly any movies being produced in the national language Urdu, and there are few takers for the handful of low-quality Punjabi and Pashto movies that are released.
‘On this Eid day, only two Punjabi movies, `Ilyasa Gujjar’ and `Numberdarni’, have been released in local cinemas,’ said ‘Numberdarni’ director Masood Butt.
He expressed the hope that the cinema culture would be revived and Pakistani audiences could see quality films in Urdu.
However, Nawab Hasan Siddiqui, CEO of Mandwiwalla Entertainment that runs several cinema houses in different cities, was not very hopeful.
‘The local industry is not able to fulfil the demands of the public because the producers are not ready to spend huge amounts on the movies due to high risk factors,’ Siddiqui told IANS.
‘If we don’t show Indian movies, the cinema culture that has been revived somewhat by Indian movies will also die down,’ he observed.
He was of the view that ‘the quality of Indian films, story line and star cast were enough of a reason to pull crowds to the theatres’.
The Pakistani film industry did provide competition to Indian movies for a few years after partition of the subcontinent in 1947 but gradually went into decline. There are now hardly any big names left to produce, direct or act in local movies — barely six-eight films, mostly in regional languages, are made each year.
In contrast, the Indian film industry has flourished, producing more than 1,000 movies a year — with Bollywood contributing about 300 films every year.
Indian movies were banned from Pakistani cinemas after the war between both countries in 1965. The decades from then to now saw audiences deserting theatres, many of which were replaced by shopping malls.
Indian movies were allowed to be screened in cinema halls in 2007 during the tenure of former president Pervez Musharraf. New cinemas have since come up and Pakistani audiences are queuing up again.
(Awais Saleem can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)