Lollywood and the Pakistani government plan to delay the release of foreign films in Pakistan if a local film has released.
The decision and its implications have caused consternation amongst cinema owners, who believe that they will suffer a huge loss in revenue. On the other hand, Lollywood believes that its films should not be competing with Indian and American exports.
The Express Tribune talked to film critics about how the delay in releases would affect the cinema culture in the country.
Critic Khusro Mumtaz was puzzled at this development. “How would this work? If they show one Pakistani movie in cinema for two weeks and then the next week too screens another Pakistani film, then international films will certainly not release on time in Pakistan,” he said.
“These foreign films have brought Pakistanis back to cinemas. But let’s say there is a cineplex that has four shows running, at least one screen should be showing a Pakistani film.”
Mumtaz believes that it is important for Pakistani directors and producers to make better quality films. “Inferior quality material is one thing nobody will go for.”
Hardly any Pakistani films are being released in the country and in the last few years only a few films have managed to stand out in the international market: Omar Ali Khan’s Zibahkhana, Mehreen Jabbar’s Ramchand Pakistani and Shoaib Mansoor’s Khuda Kay Liye. However Zibahkhana never got a proper cinema release, while Jabbar’s Ramchand Pakistani got a mixed response at cinemas.
According to Zafarullah, a Rawalpindi-based movie critic, “There are not many opportunities for entertainment out there for the youth of today which means that the Pakistani youth is very frustrated.”
He added, “This news is very distressing and upsetting for a movie lover like me. Who will go to view movies now?”
However, others believe this decision will help boost the Pakistani film industry. Film critic Bilal Akhtar told The Express Tribune, “I believe this decision will only promote competition but the question to be asked is whether our industry is able to beat foreign films. In Pakistan there is hardly a market for local movies and a small group – perhaps two per cent – of the population watches Pakistani films.”
“Although I cannot share exact figures with you, in Pakistan we predominantly love to watch Indian films and a majority of people are crazy about them.”
He believes that Indian films are the most popular in Pakistan and Hollywood has a minimal market here, given only a small percentage of Pakistanis watch Hollywood films.
Published in the Express Tribune, June 7th, 2010.