Pashto cinema breathing its last in Pakistan

Lack of government support, box office revenue forcing film-makers to quit

Adnan Lodhi December 27, 2016

LAHORE: Sad as it may seem, Pashto cinema seems to have finally taken a hit. The industry had been hanging by a thread for long enough, doing marginally better than its counterparts in other regions of Pakistan but now, it’s time may have come.

Compared to last year, which saw the release of about 18 Pashto films, 2016 only had nine to offer out of which, most failed to connect with the audiences. Mohabbat Kar Da Lewano De, Ghulam and Badmashi Na Manam received a lukewarm response while Za Pagal Yam, Raja, Lewane Pukhtoon, Khair Dy Yaar Nasha Ki De, Jashan and Badmashi Bay Mannay all flopped. None of the Pashto films even made it to Afghanistan, which is considered one of the most lucrative foreign markets.


“Pashto cinema stood the test of time when Urdu and Punjabi cinema was taking its last breaths. Yes, we were passionate to break the stereotypes associated with a typical Pashto film but we were equally encouraged by the box office figures,” well-known Pashto film-maker, Qaiser Sanober told The Express Tribune.

“We did what we could for as long as it was possible but the worsening security situation does not allow us to go any further. Major cinemas were burnt down and Afghanistan doesn’t need our films anymore, so we are left with no choice but to quit,” he added.

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Actor and director Madho echoed Sanober’s sentiments saying that, “No one made anything remarkable in Pashto cinema this year because we have been disheartened by the ongoing issues in the industry. It’s very unfair that we put in so much effort to keep the business going and get nothing in return.”

On the contrary, 2016 proved to be a better year for Urdu films. A total of 47 Urdu films were released this year, which is three more than the number of films that were released in 2015. However, it is pertinent to mention that this number also includes small budget, shorter length features that only cater to circuits in sub-urban areas. The popular films included Actor in Law, Ho Mann Jahaan, Mah-e- Mir, Hijrat, Janaan, Lahore Se Aagey, Maalik, Saya-e-Khuda-e- Zuljalal and Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hay.

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Similarly, eight Punjabi films saw the light of day in 2016, as compared to five in 2015. These films included Chan Choudhary, Haider Gujjar, Sajra Payar, Khushi, Mahi Vay, Zindagi Guzaro Hans Kay and Best of Luck. Punjabi film-makers based in Lahore are generally satisfied with how their productions fared at the box office; it’s mostly just the Pashto industry that has taken a toll.

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