A decade ago, Pakistani Cinema Industry was facing dark times as the investors were not into putting any effort for something that is considered unfruitful and worthless. There was a ban on Indian movies which contributed in the downfall of the cinema industry since three to four decades. It had made the industry almost worthless and of no value. People started to prefere, to watch movies online or by downloading the pirated versions.
During the golden era of Pakistani movies, Lollywood produced a large number of hit films including Maula Jutt, Bandhan, Daaman, Aap ki Kahtir, Baharo Phool Barsao, Umrao Jaan Ada, Ali Haider and many others. People used to go and watch films in cinemas which led the films to become high grossing. This thing in turn benefited the film makers, artists and entrepreneurs, especially the emerging artists.
Once there was a time, when more than 500 cinemas were functional in Pakistan and then with the decline of the quality of Pakistan film, the number started going down and there remained only less than 150 cinemas nationwide. Later on, for almost three to four decades, Pakistani movies were not able to meet the international standards and were failed in attracting people to go and watch on big screens. Hollywood was the only support for Pakistani cinema’s livelihood and people were only hanging out with foreign contents. English movies were running in the only few left cinemas and were bringing some of the people out of their homes to consume for films.
Indian films were banned to release in Pakistan after the 1965 Pakistan-India war. After that for one and a half decade, Pakistani films roared at the cinema screens but then a demise came up and things started getting worse with no quality content. People were unable to find any excellence in films but only third class films were remained with them.
The revival of Pakistani cinema started with Shoaib Mansoor’s film, “Khuda Kay Liye” in year 2007. It introduced Fawad Khan in the industry who later on also worked in India and gathered huge praise. Although, it just earned 6.5 crore pkr at that time, but was able to get huge appreciation of people for its story line, cast and the hard work of the director. It was also the first film to be released in India.
Ban on Bollywood films lifted up in Pakistan
In 2008, the four-decade ban on Bollywood films in Pakistan was finally lifted up and cinema owners got chance to high up their earning by projecting the new Bollywood movies in their cinemas.
It came into known that, the hindi film shown firstly in Pakistan was 1984 romance film, “Sohni Mahiwal”, a tragic love story where the hero dreamt about a beautiful girl and started seeking her out. “Veer Zaara”, a 2004 film was also released in the early days, a story of a pilot from Indian Air Force, falling in love with a Pakistani deserted woman and then living life with each other forever after. It went along with some new hindi movies like big hit children film, “Taary Zameen Par”, where a child having dyslexia, is unable to get anything right. Soon, he is approached by a new teacher who helps him finding out his hidden talent.
Pakistani Cinema Revival
With all these latest Bollywood movies running on big screens and with not much heavy amount of ticket, people started heading out and with that, new movies started coming up from Pakistan film industry. Pakistani songs from different movies started taking place in people’s hearts. New talent started emerging and coming up with some blockbuster hits even.
With Khuda Kay Liye, Pakistani cinema made into news once again after such a long wait. Although, latest Pakistani movies came up with the label of “Movie with a message”, it was a good head start. In the comparison with the well-established, well-funded and well-equipped Bollywood and Hollywood, it was definitely nothing.
There is a huge lack of professionals and resources who can come up with different tasks and the burden of whole film making can be divided rather than being on just the shoulders of the director of the film. With all these issues, point is that there has to be somewhere to start and someone has to come up to start things up and lead others to do more in the context. People did. After Khuda Kay Liye, other films started coming up with some sensible content and story line to keep people in touch.
Ramchand Pakistani, a film directed by talented Mehreen Jabbar in 2008, attracted people’s attention after Khuda Kay Liye and marked a stone for her to come up with more stuff. “Bol” released in 2011, another blockbuster hit by Shoaib Mansoor, marked success by making up 17 crore pkr.
When the ban was lifted, the return of the audience began to fuel the economic cycle which was dry for many many years and this resulted in increasing the box office earnings. In turn, new cinemas were started to be constructed with the incentives by the entrepreneurs. In 2010-11, first multiplex cinema was constructed and made functional. After that, big screens started to come up everywhere in the whole country.
Later on, in 2013, almost four to five films including Waar, Main Hoon Shahid Afridi, Seedlings (In Urdu; Lamha), Siyaah and Zinda Bhaag were presented on cinema screens along with four to five more shots, nationwide. Waar succeeded in making 23 crore pkr gross and it was a political film starring Hamza Ali Abbasi, Ayesha Khan and our talented Shaan Shahid. Film embarked a relatively good impression whereas, Main Hoon Shahid Afridi was a sports and entertainment film, proving that Pakistani film makers are capable of going ahead of just cause based ideas and have the potential to present some solid and sense making entertainment to every age group of public.
Hareem Farooq starring Siyaah was the first attempt in making horror movies in Pakistan is a story of black magic. Film was not that much appreciated but it was good attempt to come in some different genre.
The System grossing 4.06 crore pkr earning also was a good in the lineup of film making in Pakistan.
Dukhtar, Tamanna and Saltanat were also made in 2014 and were released in nationwide cinemas.
From 2007 to 2014 time period, there was start of film making and it was not a bad start. It had not much of the entertainment and fun but the topics were serious and somehow cause based. After 2014, some real fun came up in the form of Jawani Phir Nahi Ani, Karachi Se Lahore and some others. Doesn’t mean that the serious and political topics were totally thrown back but Manto and Moor were some real stuff. In Manto, Sarmad Sultan Khoosat acting was amazing and mind blowing while making the bio-pic of Saadat Hassan Mano. Interpreting a personality from Urdu Ad’b in a way to make it just as real as it is, is definitely a tough job but it was done and was done beautifully.
There was a family, romantic drama film Bin Roye, where Mahira Khan did the core justice with her role as Saba. Film presented the beautiful family culture, sisters bonding, love and affection. It was showing that how love is hard to get and sometimes not impossible. It made 40 crore pkr gross.
Jawani Phir Nahi Ani was a breakthrough for our industry and cinema revival as it touched the 50 crore figure by roaring the box office. For Pakistani films which are struggling to get better day by day, it was a step forward. Film written by Vasay Chaudhry and main role by Hamayun Saeed was a treat for your humor and eyes.
Wrong No. went on with 30 crore and throwing some fun story was catchy. Danish Taimoor, Sohai Ali Abro were the main cast of the film. Karachi Se Lahore was my personal favorite. Although it had some bold humor but it turned out to be great. Jalaibee, Dekh Magr Pyaar Se and Shah were also some good stuff seen through the year. And how can we forget 3 Bahadur; Pakistan’s first animation film by Sharmeen Ubaid Chinoy. It ranked 7th highest grossing film of Pakistan.
In 2016, entertainment kept on going in the form of Actor in Law, Lahore Se Agay, Ho Mann Jahaan and some others. Actor in Law was liked by many people as it had a strong story line. It starred Indian famous actor Om Puri who really made the film great for the viewers. On other hand, Fahad Mustafa and Mehwish Hayat were in the main leading roles. Fahad Mustafa portrayed the character of an upcoming lawyer who encountered with a heavy case which becomes the matter of threat for the country, his career and family. He has to utilize his law knowledge to make sure the justice to be served.
Last year in 2017, there was again a ban on VeryFilmi. The ban remained for four months and its lifting provided the cinema owners with new hope to overcome their loss. Last year was all about rebuilding of cinema industry. Although, enough damage was done, there is hope for progress even with slower pace, and hope for standing again with heads up in the world.
The year went with a lot of Bollywood, Hollywood and Lollywood films. Latest Bollywood movies were projected on big screens and people kept coming to enjoy. With the passage of time, the advertisement sense of Pakistan films also got better and it was somehow successful to bring people out by properly advertising their films. Sometimes, you just have to put all your effort in taking the heavy stone to the top and if you are able to do so, then you just watch it go with the flow.
2017 gave us highest grossing films since the revival of the cinema has been started. Punjab Nahi Jaungi was its kind of great film which story line was seemed to be the strongest among all previous films. Film hit the box office with 51 crore pkr gross. Starring Humanyun Saeed, Mehwish Hayat and Urwa Hucane film was filmed with representing Sindh and Punjab culture norms. Khalil Ur Rehman dialogues were as usual strong and heart catching.
Na Maloom Afraad production came up with a sequel Na Maloom Afraad 2 which also was liked by a lot of people. Hania Amir, Fahad Mustafa, Mohsin Abbas Haider were the main cast of film. The comedy thriller film was properly advertised worldwide by the artists to gather up the audience.
Yalghaar, Mehrunisa V Lub U, Verna, Chupan Chupai, Rangreza and Chalay Thy Saath were also the great hits of the year. Although, these films did not come up with high grossing but these were a way forward to the advancement of cinema and film industry.
This year also gave us some real stuff like Motorcycle girl in which a girl fulfilling her father’s dreams travels the northern areas of Pakistan on motorcycle. The film is inspired by real story of the girl Zenith Irfan from Lahore. Film was like by every person who went and watch the film.
At the end, the recent release Teefa in Trouble is worth discussing as it was also a mark in the revival of Pakistani cinema. The film starring Ali Zafar and Maya Ali acted great in the film and film seamed promising.
From all this assessment, it is clear that Urdu films have rather than more contribution in cinema revival as these films hit the nationwide release and some of them are released internationally and gained admiration. On the other hand, Pakistani Punjabi films have not done any better in the whole mean time. The Punjabi film industry is still struggling in producing some quality content. Same is the case with other language films like Pashtu films. There is a huge gap and it needs to be filled with time.
Hollywood has also contributed in reviving Pakistani cinema. People usually prefer to watch online movies and this piracy thing disturbs the earning of the film makers. For last few years there are number of film series of Hollywood that have gained the attention of people to watch on big screens. People are starting giving prefer to watch film in cinemas rather than watching on their laptop screens by sitting at home.
Marvel studios has introduced the Avengers series along with the side by side stories of the characters in other films. These films have gained huge success and have brought people to watch them on big cinema screens. Pictures with 3-D animations are gaining the interest of people to watch in cinema hall with their 3-D glasses on and fully enjoying the show. Along with, there are many more other movies like animation ones, which people like to watch in cinemas.
The attempt to rebuild the cinema culture has been getting success with every passing year. All the factors in last decade have backed in the revival of cinema of Pakistan. Bollywood films ban had put a deadlock on cinemas as people were not into watching those third class films made by Pakistani film makers those days by paying them so most of the time cinemas remain empty of just with a few people in it. There were some cinemas who used to put up English films on screens and people step towards them otherwise there was nothing else that could be found.
With the revival, the number of cinemas started getting increased which is good for the development and prosperity of the industry. Facilities started to increase and people started finding that it is good to go watch movie in theatre and cinema halls rather than on their small PC, Laptops or mobile phone screens. There are cinemas in almost every area in large cities which has reduced the amount and time of traveling. People now find it easy to go to cinema rather than downloading the picture or buffering it online and facing depression.
Pakistani film industry has played a large role in the revival as this thing originally started with a Pakistani film and then other films started producing and are overcoming the previous deficiencies in the next ones. Hollywood films have also main contribution in the making Pakistani cinemas alive again.
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