LAHORE: Since its inception, the Pakistan Railway has been a pioneering mode of conveyance providing for large scale freight movement as well as a high volume of passenger traffic.
However, off late Pakistan Railways have been running deep with financial losses which draws a parallel to the heavy budget Hollywood movies which are currently being preferred to low budgeted Lollywood movies.
The business class compartments (also known as the air conditioned parlour) of the trains have television sets to entertain passengers. Ironcially, only English movies are screened to entertain those travelling domestically. The private transporters in Punjab, however, have their reasons to support local cinema. The major bus services from Faisalabad to Lahore screen movies in the two-and-a-half-hour journey. Noticeably, these transporters are the ones who refrain from screening any Indian films, to abide with their own specific code of conduct which pertains exclusively to Urdu or Punjabi films.
Junaid Saeed, a passenger travelling in a train from Lahore to Rawalpindi, told The Express Tribune that it was acceptable to screen films in an approximately four hour journey but did not like the idea of screening English movies.
“Maybe they think that it is business class and they should screen English movies but I don’t think this is good practice. Only two per cent of the population in Pakistan watches English films. If the railway officials want to entertain their passengers they should cater of their taste,” he added.
Another passenger named Hamza said, “There is no point in screening English films in trains. If the government itself cannot promote local cinema it should not try to bar cinemas from screening foreign films when a local film gets released,” he added. He said that the railway officials could ask the passengers to fill a form stating their preference and types of entertainment.
“There must be some good Pakistani films that you can screen. There are films like Ramchand Pakistani and Khuda Key Liye for example. Many people would like to watch them while travelling and this helps to promote our local cinema,” he added.
Filmmaker Sangeeta believed that if the government itself was reluctant to show Pakistani films where they had an authority to do so how could it ask cinemas to support Lollywood. “Bring change where you can. But to change something you need is strong, determined sense of will which is missing in the concerned authorities,” he maintained.
After taking into account what passengers said, the Pakistan Railways Chief Commericial Manager Ayaz Awan Dareshani defended local culture promotion by identifying the trend to instill Urdu drama serials that were shown as re-runs during the course of travel. He said, “We also show PTV and other local drama’s in trains that were very popular during their premiere.”
When asked whether any Pakistani films were occasionally screened he replied, “Pakistani films are not screened as there are not many quality productions.” However, in order to promote a cultural trend, he said, “We will start doing this. We will get some good Pakistani films to add entertainment value.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2011.
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