Patching things up

Published: February 5, 2012

Film producers hope to bring back the Pakistan Film Producers Association. GRAPHIC: MAHA HAIDER

LAHORE: 

What was once considered the hub of all film-related activity, regularly visited by film folks and biggies of the industry, the Pakistan Film Producers Association’s (PFPA) office is now nothing more than a deserted, dusty, termite-ridden room. Unfortunately, the PFPA which used to be the most influential association made by the Pakistani film fraternity, has been inactive ever since it was disbanded in 2006 due to internal disagreement. With the Pakistan film industry in tatters, the country’s film producers have now decided to bury the hatchet and revive the association.

Inside Lahore’s film district Royal Par, a pensive-looking Chaudhry Kamran sits with a legal file containing details of the screenings of Indian films in Pakistan. Kamran, the producer of the Lollywood-hit film Bhai Log, has been one of the central figures contributing to the revival of the producers association. According to him, the association played a major role in helping the industry thrive in the 1960s and 1970s. “The Producers Association is the mother of all associations in the film industry,” says Kamran. “It played a vital role in getting rid of personal differences in the industry and also in giving the industry a proper structure in terms of its functions.”

Main functions

The organisation, which functioned as a backbone and platform for the entire film industry, facilitating the needs of other branches, maintaining discipline, had split up primarily due to disparity over the screening of Indian films in the Pakistani market. Kamran informs that the PFPA functions included selection of film titles, self-regulation on vulgar content and organisation of film releases. Additionally, a member from the association was, at the time, authorised to sit on both the censor board and the chamber of commerce which allowed for funding. These functions proved invaluable in making the industry function efficiently, adds Kamran.

Therefore, keeping in mind the past usefulness of the association, producers have decided to restart the process. The plan is to first appoint a board and a chairman, who will run the association, and this will be followed by elections for the association, which will be held after the first year. According to industry insiders, it is widely speculated that Ghafoor Butt, another integral member of the team striving to revive the board, will head the association. When contacted, Butt refused to divulge details and said his lips are sealed till the official public launch, which is expected sometime next week at a press conference.

What can be done?

There is also a divide regarding what has led to the decline of the film industry.

Some producers like Kamran contend that Indian films have led to its decline and a ban of all films from India is imperative to resuscitate faith in producers.

Meanwhile, Mustafa Qureshi, popularly known for playing the iconic role of ‘Noori Natt’ in Maula Jatt, feels that more fundamental issues such investor confidence in the industry must be restored. He also advocates the formulation of a set of standards which are in line with international markets. “The issue is that India is willing to screen our films and their market is far bigger than Pakistan’s,” says Qureshi. “The association will provide a platform through which producers can interact in a united fashion with government. However, for it to be effective, producers should also change their current mindset, they should embrace the challenge of participating in the global market.”

Nadeem Mandviwala, owner of Atrium Cinemas, explains that the organisation’s biggest concern should be disciplining the industry, essentially by releasing films on time and being more regular with film releases. “If there is a collective body through which all producers can address issues, it will certainly be a positive move,” adds Mandviwala.

Hence, all things said and done, it’s imperative to ask whether producers will actually start producing films more regularly once the association is fully functional, and Kamran seems optimistic. “We will advocate for the ban of Indian films will serve to protect producers’ interest; the association will not only restore the faith of investors, it will also provide some discipline in the industry.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (6)

  • gp65
    Feb 5, 2012 - 1:40AM

    Some facts to consider:

    1 ) In 2007 Indian films were not yet legaly allowed in Pakistan. Despite this Pak cinema houses were closing down due to absence of adequate entertaining Pakistani movies that people would come and watch. This proves that downfall of Pak film industry led to allowing Indian films to be displayed – not the other way around as Kamran seems to imply.

    2) India allows Pak films to also be screened.Bol was the biggest ever hit in Pakistan. When displayed in India, it clashed with Bollywood and was therefore considered a flop. But even as a flop, the collection were almost 90% of what it made i nPakistan. If Indian films are stopped, Pakistani films will also not have the opportunity to be displayed in India.

    3) Stakeholders such as cinema owners and audiences are not even considered in this discussion. But surely their opinions should also count?

    4) If Indian films are banned in Pakistan, some of the backlash could definitely be felt by the Pak artistes, whom Bollywood will stop hiring. Thus they too are stakeholders in this debate.

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  • AliF
    Feb 5, 2012 - 4:20AM

    If you are appointing the likes of Ghafoor Butt as head of the association then there is no hope for the film industry. The industry needs to make a fresh start and remove these old bigots.

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  • American Pakistani
    Feb 5, 2012 - 8:40AM

    I am ready to bet that Indian movies can never be banned from Pakistan again. The old days are gone and Pakistan has changed a lot in last ten years. Now there are serious stake-holders with lot of influence to stop any such archaic thinking and backward trends. Pakistan film industry has to improve it’s standard of film making if it wants to compete with Bollywood and rest of the world. Banning anything – and I can’t stress it enough – is never a solution. Also we need people who either have studied film or have world class experience in film making to drive this revival. These chaudries, butts, gujjars and seths have zero vision (considering their education level) when it comes to business of cinema. They had a good run for 20 years but it’s time for them to pack their bags and move on. Their short-sighted and over simplistic opinions (i.e ban this, ban that) should be totally ignored.

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  • Mansoor
    Feb 5, 2012 - 9:18AM

    All the films should be allowed Indian or Hollywood, but making awesome moves in is Pakistan is more important, more film schools more film talent., it was a shame that Slackistan was not allowed to premier in Pakistan. I am an aspiring film maker and photographer, currently live abroad, I would to move back and be part of Pakistani film industry, we can make so many movies regional, religious, cultural, on true events, list is huge.

    Pakistani film Waar is a promising start even Indians were stunned by the trailer!

    Hope glory comes back to Pakistani Film Industry

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  • Feb 5, 2012 - 9:50AM

    Can i get Sher Khan’s email address

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  • Danial Hayat Khan
    Feb 8, 2012 - 8:04PM

    Banning Indian films is not the solution nor will be the solution ever, Producing films that the audience wants to watch & competing with Bollywood is the right thing to do. People need entertainment they don’t care whether it is Bollywood or Hollywood or even Lollywood.

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