Regardless of how agitated people might be by the arrival of new channels playing Turkish soaps on Pakistani television, or the running of Indian films in Pakistani theatres, the fact remains that these foreign entertainment imports are keeping Pakistani cinema and television alive.
It appears that this trend will not be slowing down anytime soon as Pakistani cinema braces itself for the arrival of its first ever Urdu-dubbed Turkish feature film, expected to hit the big screen in January 2014.
The film, which will be playing in theatres under the title Mohabbat Ek Ittifaq, is the Turkish blockbuster Ask Tesadulfleri Sever, which grossed over $50 million when it was released in Turkey in 2011. The film is being imported to Pakistan by Kayzee Enterprises, and has also been dubbed locally. The importers also own the rights to releasing the same version in Bangladesh and India.
“People are putting so much money in to making cinemas in Pakistan [such as Nueplex], but there isn’t enough content [on screen],” Kaukab Zuberi, an investment banker turned film importer, told The Express Tribune.
“Hollywood films are watched by 1% of the population, Pakistani films are not made frequently and Bollywood films can always be affected by political situations and other social factors. So it is very important to cash in on an alternate product, “he says.
Ask Tesadulfleri Sever, with the English title Love Likes Coincidences, is a 2011 romantic saga directed by Ömer Faruk Sorak, and features Turkish stars Mehmet Günsür and Belçim Bilgin Erdo and Günsüris, who is a familiar face for Pakistani audiences, as he has also played the role of Shahazad Mustafa in a Turkish drama currently running on Pakistani TV channels, Mera Sultan. The story of the film revolves around a series of coincidences that will decide the fate of two lovers, Ozgur and Deniz. The film intercuts between their childhood in Ankara and their present-day life.
“It is our similarities with the Turkish culture and the ownership of a common religion that made the dramas work — and will make the film work,” says Zuberi. “It is important to mention the time Turkish writers spend on writing one film. That quality of screenwriting can’t be expected of India, let alone Pakistan, and will contribute to the success of the film,” he says.
Well-known Pakistani film-maker Syed Noor appears to share Zuberi’s outlook on the matter. Noor feels that Bollywood films don’t possess the values Pakistani people live by. “I was never against foreign films coming to Pakistan, I was just against Indian films that were being imported illegally or were culturally inaccurate for a Pakistani audience,” he says. “It is great to see a Turkish film being imported to Pakistan because, above all, it’s another Islamic country and we have so much in common with them [Turkish people] as well.”
Bollywood may be a factor assisting the local success of Turkish films in more ways than one. The decline in the quality of Bollywood films, which Zuberi believes have become second-rate over time, can only make the audiences more accepting of Turkish films. “I think there is a huge potential for dubbed Turkish films in Pakistan. If a film like Chennai Express can work, so can a great film like Mohabbat Ek Ittifaq,” Zuberi says optimistically. “Pakistani people have had enough of the typical, formulaic films from Bollywood and definitely deserve something more meaningful.”
Apart from film imports, Kayzee Enterprises also plans to open doors for Pakistani films in Turkey, so as to take advantage of the 2,000 screens present in the latter. The company also has two films in the pipeline, Glamour and Dhundd, which will begin the production process as soon as their directors are finalised.
While Zuberi may be confident, for now, his claims rely more on ambition and hope than empirical research and the combination may prove to be a recipe for a box office disaster. After all, he is trying to invoke innovation in an industry that relies heavily on established trends. The curiosity that the first Urdu-dubbed Turkish film piques will have people heading to theatres, but the first time Turkish entertainment was imported to Pakistan organisations like the UPA (United Producers Association) responded with outcry. In response to these concerns, Zuberi says, “Exhibitors plan to make 200 screens by 2015. Like-minded people should think of methods of eventually filling up those 200 screens [and not hinder efforts to do so].” he says.
The exact release date of Mohabbat Ek Ittifaq will be announced in the coming week. first Urdu-dubbed Turkish film piques will have people heading to theatres, but the first time Turkish entertainment was imported to Pakistan organisations like the UPA (United Producers Association) responded with outcry. In response to these concerns, Zuberi says, “Exhibitors plan to make 200 screens by 2015. Like-minded people should think of methods of eventually filling up those 200 screens [and not hinder efforts to do so].” he says.
The exact release date of Mohabbat Ek Ittifaq will be announced in the coming week.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2013.