Cinemas come back to life

Published: September 7, 2011

Cinema owners are happy that shows are selling out for the first time in years. PHOTOS: NEFER SEHGAL/EXPRESS TRIBUNE

Cinema owners are happy that shows are selling out for the first time in years. PHOTOS: NEFER SEHGAL/EXPRESS TRIBUNE Cinema owners are happy that shows are selling out for the first time in years. PHOTOS: NEFER SEHGAL/EXPRESS TRIBUNE

Outside the dingy and old Metropole cinema in Lahore, for the first time in years, huge crowds showed up for the premiere of Pakistani films Bhai Log, Love Mein Ghum and Jugni. The quality and effort put in the films contributed to what the producers claim was a successful run for Pakistani films that were released this Eid. “We have not had this much rush in years,” commented Ashraf who works at the ticket sale office at Metropole cinema. “Most of our shows are selling out for the first time in years.”

The huge rush is largely credited to the release of Bhai Log, which has turned out to be a local hit at most single-screen cinemas. According to Chaudhry Ijaz Kamran, the film’s producer, Bhai Log earned over RS9.7million in the first three days of its release, with many claiming it is the ‘highest grossing (Lollywood) film of the decade’. Syed Faisal Bukhari, who made his directorial debut with Bhai Log, feels the success of the film proves that Pakistan can produce quality films; “It was important that we proved that we could also make a quality film.” However, Bukhari rues that many multiplexes failed to give the film adequate screening, showing it at awkward times – for instance at  9am and 2pm.

The film, which revolves around the gangs of Karachi and the prevailing terror situation in the city, is easy to relate to  and the action in it makes it interesting for the younger lot as well. Muhammad Atif, a young boy from a middle-class family, who was in line for tickets to the film, said: “This is something we enjoy as it’s got a lot of action. It’s an outing for us boys.”

Sheikh Adeel Imtiaz, the owner of Bambino Cinema, Karachi – which only screened Love Mein Ghum and Bhai Log – claimed that while Bhai Log did well, the former received a rather cold response; “It’s all about Bhai Log and more and more people are coming to watch it, overshadowing Love Mein Ghum’s chances, probably because the latter is more of a family entertainer and Bhai Log is action-packed.”

However, in certain high-end multiplex cinemas, the situation has been slightly different as Reema Khan’s Love Mein Ghum was relatively more popular than Bhai Log.  Nadeem Mandviwalla, a known film distributor and also the owner of Lahore’s DHA cinema, noticed that Bhai Log was not as successful in some multiplexes because of two different viewing classes. He said that action films typically did not work in the multiplex audiences, claiming that the divide in audience’s tastes was visible in other countries as well. “Even in places like America and India, there are films that target certain audiences,” explained Mandviwalla. This divide, he says could be called ‘old school’ (which focuses on single screen cinemas) and the ‘new school’ (focusing on multiplexes). He also added that for films that are able to crossover would be massive hits in both markets – something very few films are able to do across the world.

However, despite the ‘relative’ success of these films, insiders have revealed that Indian films still managed to pull a larger audience. Even this week, Bodyguard – featuring Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor in the lead roles – saw housefuls while the cinemas screening Love Mein Ghum, were filled to only 80 per cent of their capacity. “Like the past two years, this time around also, Eid belonged to Salman Khan as we are still getting back-to-back housefuls for Bodyguard,” said Asim Qureshi, Owner of Brand TV and Cinema and the exclusive promoter of Atrium cinema, Karachi.

Overall, most cinema owners seemed to be basking in glory due to the recovery of business after Ramazan, with some sharing the opinion that cinemas have properly benefited from the Eid season after quite some time, citing it as a good sign for cinema revival.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • AliF
    Sep 7, 2011 - 10:16PM

    According to Chaudhry Ijaz Kamran, the film’s producer, Bhai Log earned over RS9.7million in the first three days of its release, with many claiming it is the ‘highest grossing (Lollywood) film of the decade’

    Producer has his facts wrong, Mansoor’s film ‘Bol’ made RS22 million in six days alone and is still running to packed audiences across the world.


  • F. Alam
    Sep 8, 2011 - 3:01AM

    We need to grow audience of our films. We have lost a whole generation (people aged 17 – 30) who have not seen the past glory of our films. Since they relate more to Indian films, they do not feel attracted towards local films & its not their fault.
    We need to catch the people in Schools to opt for good Pakistani films (not the trashy ones). I remember film screenings (of somewhat old films) in Schools when I was a kid. This made me watch Pakistani films in Cinemas when I joined college. We should start free screenings of good Pakistani films in Schools (two or three times a year) to create a newer market.
    Film producers association should select prints of 10/20 films of last 30 years and talk to schools across the country. It should be FREE for schools and they should be allowed to charge a modest fee to students (as a motivation for them to show).
    This market could be a big hope when they go out of schools to become our permanent clients. I emphasise that we should only show them films that are better (films like Zarqa, Aina, Hum Dono, Neela Parbat, Khuley Aasman ke neeche, Guns n Roses Ek Janoon, Jinnah – The movie, Sangam, Khuda Ke Liye, Koi Tuj sa Kahan, Choorian, Majajan, Mohabbtan Sachiyan, Love mein gum, Bol etc etc..)


  • Rahul Singh
    Sep 8, 2011 - 8:39AM

    Bollywood has contributed a lot in reviving the Pakistani movie industry. It was only because of Indian films that theaters started functioning otherwise most of them were either closed or running into losses during the time when Indian films were banned in Pakistan. Indian films developed the culture of watching movies at theater. Pakistan should allow more Indian films to be screened in Pakistan and also efforts shall be made to jointly make films with Indian filmmakers. With few exceptions quality of Pakistani films are still very poor and they can learn a lot from their Indian counterparts and it will also bring huge market for them in India. Interestingly Pakistani film ‘khuda ke liye’ earned more in India than in Pakistan.


  • Kamil
    Sep 8, 2011 - 10:14AM

    I was curious about Love Mein Ghum as it is loosely based on Veronika Decides to Die. Although the name of the movie is somewhat cheesy, the film is actually very nice. It is shot in ‘exotic’ locations, there is solid acting and interesting characters, and the overall quality and entertainment quotient of the movie are high. Love Mein Ghum is not as ‘bold’ or an art house production as Bol with underlying messages for society but a very entertaining and enjoyable watch nonetheless it is.


  • saad
    Sep 8, 2011 - 1:25PM

    @Alif Bol is not considered a lollywood rather its considered more of a global film. Also its not financed as shadily as Bol thats why the quality difference.


  • A.Khan
    Sep 8, 2011 - 4:20PM

    Its good news. I dont see any connection of both movies to Indian movies. One is about Karachi and other one is from Reema who is already allergic of copying ideas from Indian movies. Well, in Pakistan copied ideas from India are not much promoted. It has been rather discouraged.

    Now its time to nominate a film city in Pakistan. I hope it shouldn’t be Lahore, Karachi or Islamabad. Rather a smaller and more calm city. Probably Hyderabad or Sargodha, to distribute the financial support for cities. All filmy activities can be carried over to that.


  • Masood Ansari
    Sep 10, 2011 - 7:55PM

    Dear Rafay Mahmood / Sher Khan plz correct your information Bhai Log is not debut film of Faisal Bukhari as director his first film as director was NO PAISA NO PROBLEM starring Humayoon Saeed and Noor in 2000 it was a super flop film


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