LAHORE: The year 2017 has not been a good one for Punjab’s film industry as there have been only six Punjabi films that released this year, in comparison to the 11 from last year.
“We cinema-owners have suffered a lot as we have had to screen old films at local cinemas throughout the year,” Sangeet Cinema manager Qaiser Khan told The Express Tribune. We’re just trying to maintain our expenditures but without the revival of the Punjabi film industry, this may not be possible. I fear that the older, more traditional, cinemas will have to be closed down.”
When asked about government funding or lack thereof, Qaiser continued, “There is a real need for the government to bail us out and the film industry in general. They truly need to take some crucial steps for the survival of local cinema.”
Alamdar, Dushman, Kalia, Sona Badmash, Mirasan and Dada Pota were the six films that were released under the ‘Lollywood’ banner this year. What is even more unsettling is that not even one of these films was a hit, as revealed by the producers.
Of course, it wasn’t just the producers who bore the brunt of the losses. Thousands of Punjabi film fans across Pakistan were also very unhappy that all six films failed to generate much traction. There was a time when there would be around 60-70 Punjabi films releasing every year and about half of them would be considered hits.
Realistically speaking, the situation has worsened within the last two decades as the producers have failed to keep up with the changing trends due to which their films lack modernity. Although the industry insiders are hopeful, the grave reality is that the Punjabi film industry is in dire straits.
“Punjabi films exist in every corner of the world. They’re doing pretty well in India and this is because of modern technology, music and scripts,” explained filmmaker Sarwar Shah. “They have changed their film industry according to the changing times, whereas we are still producing films based on issues of local antagonism and resident gangsters.”
“The non-professional people who have just entered the film industry are the ones who are actually responsible for this. They produce third class Punjabi films which our poor viewers have to watch. This is what has caused this crisis,” he concluded.
On the other hand, it is being said that although 2017 was a disappointing year, the coming ones will see new and improved films. The producers also believe that the survival of the Pakistani film industry lies within Punjabi cinema in particular as without it, the history of our films would not be complete.
“The film industry is turning over a new leaf in our country, after a long crisis. I, personally, see it as a good thing that Urdu films are now streamlined and I’m sure that the time will come when Punjabi films will also be widely screened,” said film-maker Altaf Hussain.
He added, “I have been witness to this crisis for many years now but I am not disappointed. There are many local Lahore-based producers that want to make good films, as well as several newcomers, and this gives me a lot of hope. I am confident that in the coming years, the situation will improve.”
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