Pakistan’s film industry is not dead... yet
As long as it has a voice that sets it apart from any other medium, for me it’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to.
I don’t remember watching a Pakistani film growing up. I was way too busy being smothered by Shahrukh Khan’s movies that everyone back then just had to watch — with the entire family. People would memorise lines, know the dance steps of each song by heart and would fantasise about Bollywood happening to them in real life. It never did.
When Pakistan came out with films like Khuda Ke Liye and Bol, the content was too ‘heavy’ to appeal to the masses. Critics called the plot convoluted. The treatment contrived and termed the subject matter as just way too overwhelming for a single feature-length film.
This was the time that rumours about Pakistan’s film industry being dead were gaining strength. The formulaic underdog-actor-coming-to-the-rescue-of-the-shrieking-heroine narrative of yesteryear was no longer getting the common man to the cinemas — at least, not in as large a number.
It’s when people realised that film-makers had something to say — for a change, that the word ‘revival’ came about.
Khuda Ke Lyie and Bol touched a nerve. They were way too close to home to be considered pleasant and yet, the originality was refreshing. The fact that it stemmed from real issues and wasn’t just a derivative of Hollywood, Bollywood and everything in between was a novelty. We didn’t have to wait for a movie to happen to us. It was already happening.
The newer product of the industry, Chambaili also played on a topic that was relevant — elections. Back then, nothing else mattered. Even though, how the film was shot and technically treated left much to be desired, it didn’t borrow from content that was alien to the people and for that very fact, it worked.
The number of Pakistani films you have seen in the last five years hardly amount to a double-figure and yet, I fail to accept that the industry is dead. As long as it has a voice that sets it apart from any other medium, for me it’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to.
Maybe consider it dead, when it has nothing to say at all.
Read more by Riffat here, or follow her on Twitter @RiffyR