It took us more than a decade to bring back just a quarter of the charm that Pakistani cinema had in the 60s, and all the hopes and efforts for the ascending industry fell flat when Pakistani cinema-owners announced a ban on screening Indian films.
I’m a proud Pakistani, I love my country but why do I have to hate India in order to prove my patriotism? Why can’t I prefer an Indian film over a Pakistani one? Most of our films are ‘inspired’ by the neighbouring cinema anyway; whether it’s perception of romance, the cheesy dialogues or even the item songs.
Pakistani and Indian cinema has always gone side by side, but after the 1980s our side of the cinema stopped progressing, while India’s cinema went on to become one of the world’s most acknowledged.
We’ve had huge stars like Waheed Murad, Shabnum, Noor Jehan and Santosh, people who took the Pakistani cinema to its peak. However, with the rise in B-grade pushto and Punjabi films and the horrendous ‘Gandasa’ culture in mainstream cinema; the quality of the cinema, just like the stars, faded away.
With barely any cinemas remaining in Pakistan, it was just a few years ago that Indian films got permission to be screened in Pakistan, and let’s just say that this began the revival of Pakistani cinema.
More people started accepting and enjoying cinema again and the ‘business of cinema’ began. More cinemas started opening up and the increase in cinemas gave Pakistani filmmakers a bigger market to jump into, and thus began the revival of Pakistani cinema.
However, with the recent ban of Indian films in Pakistan, we seem to have gotten ourselves going back into failure. I know that our cinema is progressing but I’m also aware of our pace; we release around 8-9 big films per year, most of which come out on Eid and end up competing with each other. So we basically have 5 film-releasing weekends in one year, the rest of the year it’s the Indian cinema that keeps the business going and without an Indian film releasing every weekend, our cinemas will start losing major money and hence shut down.
Our miniscule amount of film releases can’t keep the cinemas running all year round; already most of the theatres are running empty shows of the same Pakistani films released 2 months ago.
Indian cinema brings 60-75% of our annual box-office revenue and if we ban Bollywood, we cut a major chunk of our economy and also the chance for our film industry to grow.
We need Indian cinema for our local one to survive, and also because a big majority of the country enjoys Hindi cinema as much as I do.