KARACHI: Eidul Azha will mark the opening of not one but three Pakistani feature films, with nothing but earlier Indian releases, Baar Baar Dekho and Freaky Ali to worry about in terms of competition. While this is surely a great opportunity for Pakistani films to flourish, which one takes the lion’s share at the box office remains yet to be seen.
Interestingly, all three films are projects helmed by big names, hailing from completely different genres. First comes Nabeel Qureshi’s Actor in Law which brings back the team of the 2014 sleeper hit Na Maloom Afraad. The upcoming comedy stars the increasingly popular Fahad Mustafa and model-turned-actor Mehwish Hayat, who will give stiff competition to the Ali Rehman Khan, Bilal Ashraf and Armeena Khan-starrer Janaan. Also in line is Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hay (ZKHH) which brings small-screen couple Sajal Ali and Feroze Khan to the fore. The fourth wild card entry is Maalik, which can easily replace any of these films given the hype surrounding its ban.
The directors of all three have been previously lauded for their debut films, raising expectations even higher. While Azfar Jafri’s 2013 film Siyaah gained him some recognition, he hopes to hit the jackpot with Janaan this time around. Similarly, Qureshi’s Na Maloom Afraad may have put him on the map but now he is looking to take things up a notch. Anjum Shahzad’s Mah-e-Mir had a decent showing at the box office earlier this year but the film-maker has resorted to a commercial concept with ZKHH to improve his stock.
A point to note is that since people generally prefer to spend more on their sacrificial animals than outings during Eidul Azha, any box office records are unlikely to be broken. What could happen, however, is that the Pakistani film industry sees an overall highest-ever box office collection on Eid.
Speaking with The Express Tribune, Super Cinemas Lahore General Manager Khorem Gultasab gave his two cents on which film he believes will dominate. “I think Actor in Law is going to top the box office because it has got more commercial appeal. Janaan and ZKHH are likely to share the space,” he said.
According to Gultasab, it would have been a better decision business wise to have one of the films release after Eid. “Each of them has its strengths but this would have resulted in all of them doing strong business. But like I said, all three are likely to do well, with Actor in Law taking the cake.”
Gultasab’s sentiments were echoed by Atrium Cinemas Managing Director Nadeem Mandviwala, who claimed Actor in Law is more likely to lead, mainly because of its cast. “There’s bound to be more demand for it,” he stated, adding that his cinema network has divided the shows amongst all three releases equally.
Naturally, the number of screens and shows a film is given play an integral part in its performance. However, audience demand is just as important. Once the films have seen the light of day, what the audience wishes to see will become clearer and cinema houses are bound to change their screening schedules accordingly.
Cinepax Marketing General Manager Mohsin Yaseen shared, “We have 28 screens all over Pakistan. The shows are equally divided among all three films, with each film getting about 500 or more shows during the next two weeks.”
As to which film he thought would gross more than the others, Yaseen said, “We have opened advance booking and all three have received a good response. But I think Actor in Law is going to dominate the collections, with Janaan coming in second and finally, ZKHH.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2016.
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