In the life of a Pakistani there are few constants i.e. economy in trouble, batting collapses in cricket and our Pakistani Cinema being revived. No matter what we do, ranging from hiring foreign specialists to relying on our own talent or just try to go with the flow, the result seems to be the same. But every now and then we shake up things with the hope the outcome will be different. While I am not a specialist on any one of above mentioned issues, however, as the title suggests I will try to write about our attempts to revive our film industry.
The industry existed in a healthy shape till late 70s and early 80s, however, Pakistani cinema lost its touch once the creative and original work stopped and was replaced with plagiarized work with heavy influence from work being done in India. Moreover, the financiers started viewing cinema as a medium to mint money instead to provide views with quality work. As a result, the entertainment being offered was cheap comedy, copied movie plots, vulgar dances and useless music. The situation only worsened with the availability of VCRs and access to Bollywood movies, which decidedly ended the Pakistani cinema in 90s. During these years, Pakistan was however was still producing outstanding work in TV dramas and a budding pop music.
The mantra of revival of Pakistani music began during 1st decade of 21st century once Shoaib Mansoor, a well-known drama and music director released movie “Khuda key Liye”. The movie deservedly received a lot of accolade and as a result a ray of hope was sighted. In the subsequent years, few movies were released however; they could only achieve limited success.
During last 2-3 years, drama productions houses have started venturing in film making and distribution, which has proved beneficial in a way that ample funds are now available to producers to make movies of their own choice. Earlier, the equipment, casting, choice of site, marketing etc… were severely affected by lack of funds. The number of movies being released every year is increasing every year now, however, it has raised the erstwhile question about the quality of the final product.
It is worth remembering the decline of cinema started with the production of a large number of movies on “formulas”, the term loosely referring to movies having similar caste, identical stories, sensual dances and noise in the name of music. Ironically, the same phase is being observed, where repetitive movie themes and characterization has become a norm. Recently, two movies, Raasta directed by Sahir Lodhi and Chain Aye Na directed by Syed Noor faced heavy criticism for being low in quality and substandard content.
However, once the movies could not perform well on Box Office, both directors resorted to the claims that a conspiracy is being hatched by certain quarters to negatively affect the revival of cinema.
The main cause of failure of new productions is the same as experienced in the past i.e. to make formula movies. Actors who have outlived their utility on TV are now appearing in lead roles in movies basing primarily due to financial reasons. On occasions they are easily twice the age of their female counterparts. Directors are relying on a limited number of actors in comedy roles as if the country of 22 million cannot produce quality actors in such roles. Same goes for the lead actresses and the actors in supporting roles. Movie plots revolve around the culture which hardly exists in our normal lives. While limited dramatization is acceptable, however, complete themes of the movies, selection of costumes and the general environment being propagated hardly exist even in our urban areas.
Movies completely disregard the problems faced and lives being lived by their viewers and hence often become superfluous. Such movies which have a clear disconnect from our culture will eventually take the cinema to a downward swirl as happened in the past.
It is the need of the hours that instead of making run of the mill projects, directors and producers keep themselves rooted to our culture and try to connect with the audience instead of relying on skimpy clothes, item songs, loud music and tired castes. Considering the alternatives available in the form of Bollywood and Hollywood, the audience will not tolerate this very long and the good work done in last few years will be undone easily and quickly.