The Lahore film fraternity has decided to take a brief respite from Indian films in order to offer more breathing space to local ones. In a meeting held on Monday, the Pakistan Film Distributors Group (PFDG) and Film Producers and Directors Association (FPDA) unanimously agreed to give preference to Pakistani films during spring.
The last week of February and almost all of March will be crucial for Lollywood as over 10 Urdu and Pashto films are releasing during this period. Mainstream Urdu films like Bachaana, Salute, Hijrat, Fiker Naat and Blind Love are expected in February, while four Pashto offerings, namely Aashqi, Lewouny Pakhtoun, Parrang and Jashan are coming in March. Although the decision may pose an opportunity cost in case of major Bollywood releases like Kapoor & Sons – which comes out on March 18 – one can take it as a sign that Pakistani producers and directors are now taking their business seriously. They are confident that their decision will further solidify the hold of local films at the box office, as implied by director Shahzad Rafique. “This is great. I hope my film Salute will prove to be a good addition to the scheme,” he said.
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The meeting was held in order to devise a strategy that protects the interests of Pakistani filmmakers.PFDG chairman, Ch. Ejaz Kamran, IMGC entertainment chairman Shiekh Imtiaz and filmmakers Syed Noor and Jarar Rizvi, amongst others, attended the session and persuaded cinema owners to clear slots in favour of local films in Lahore.
“It has been our stance since day one that we should focus on releasing local content and play a positive role in the revival of our cinema,” said Kamran during the meeting. “Our films did great business last year and held their own against Indian films. It’s time we realise that they too can generate considerable profits,” he explained.
Kamran – whose next offering, Blind Love, is currently in post-production – also highlighted a number of other Muslim nations like Turkey and Iran that are brimming with quality cinema but their films are not imported by local distributors. “We don’t take any measures to import from these countries and just keep giving our spots to Indian films,” he claimed. “I think it’s high time we broke this hegemony and got a hold of our theaters.”
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It was also decided that IGMC entertainment, Pakistan’s prime distributors of Bollywood films, will start releasing Pakistani productions as well.
IMGC’s Imtiaz remains hopeful that local content will give Indian films a run for their money. “Directors such as Asma Butt, Shahzad Rafique are willing to give us their films, which will be released under the banner of IGMC,” said Imran. “We are also trying to get Bhai Wanted from Syed Noor. I am confident that next month will see Pakistani films dominate the local box office.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2016.
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