Lollywood’s sinking ship

Published: June 23, 2011
Box office sales stagnate as cinemas try to stay afloat with foreign films — thanks to the poor quality of Lollywood production

Box office sales stagnate as cinemas try to stay afloat with foreign films — thanks to the poor quality of Lollywood production . CREATIVE COMMON


The recent string of newly released Pakistani films has failed to make a dent in box office sales, suggesting a continued decline of Lollywood, due to the lack of response by audiences.

Cinema owners suggest that the film-makers must make movies of international standards if they are to capture the Pakistani market. They said that very few films had been released this year, including Urdu film Khamosh Raho and Punjabi film Ek Ghazi Aur. Both lasted merely three days at the box office and were deemed as ‘utter failures’ due to poor film-making and lack of marketing.

Chairman Pakistan Film Ex-hibitors Association, Zoraiz Lashari thinks the cinema industry is going through a changing trend. Now, investors don’t find large 800-seat cinemas cost-effective due to the overhead cost. As a result, more people are interested in investing in cineplexes which cater to 200 people and have better screen quality, he said.

Explaining the relationship between cinemas and the film industry, Lashari said that during the 1980s, many cinemas had started investing in films to improve the quality of these projects. However, the practice did not last for long with the advent of pirated foreign films and cable television.

“The film industry has to cater to larger markets, which are very different from those that existed in past. Now you have lesser cinemas, so making profits is difficult,” said Lashari. “They have to think about markets, like India, Dubai and Britain, which can potentially improve sales of the local films.”

Sharing the statistics, Lashari said that there used to be 700 cinemas in Pakistan in 1972. Lahore alone had 63 cinemas, but now the number has gone down to 15.

Criticising the quality of Lollywood films, Lashari mentioned that the film-makers continue to use old 15 mm cameras and the scripts continue to overplay gangster themes which people cannot relate to. On average, Pakistani films have a very low success rate, Lashari said, pointing out that Syed Noor, who is otherwise considered as Lollywood’s ace director, has a failure rate of 90 per cent.

Because cinemas are becoming increasingly dependent on foreign films, the risk of a film’s failure typically lies on the producer’s shoulder.

Qaiser Sanaullah Khan, owner of Metropole Cinema, said that four or five films  had been planned to be released this year. However, two of the films — Ek Ghazi Aur and Khamosh Raho — that were released, flopped at the box office.

“As cinema owners, we look forward to Indian films for our survival because there are no good Pakistani films being released,” said Khan. “Lollywood films have no marketing budget or anything to bring people to the theatre.”

Ghafoor Butt, the producer of Khamosh Raho, had a different perspective. He said that it was simply unfair to criticise filmmaking as films like Khamosh Raho had been considered a success by the critics. It is simply the people who discriminate against Pakistani films, he said.

“We cannot compete with Indian films. There is a market for Punjabi films but Urdu films are no longer popular,” said Butt. “People are unwilling to leave their home for these movies and in the end that cannot be blamed on the film industry.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • waqar
    Jun 24, 2011 - 12:02AM

    The people will go to watch films that appeal to them. Using sub-standard equipment, next to no advertising, and scripts that lack finesse isn’t going to pull people to those films. Even a standard gangster film with good acting, nice camera-work and special effects that don’t make you throw up should pull a resonably large number of people. Plus, variety in scripts is also required with movies for children being made too.Recommend

  • Zeeshan
    Jun 24, 2011 - 2:50AM

    Agree with Waqar! There should be variety of Cinema which keeps on pulling the crowd towards it…and gosh Syed Noor dose not have 90% flops… that’s exaggeration! Recommend

  • optimist
    Jun 25, 2011 - 9:49PM

    A lot needs to be done. First requirement is a good script, secondly, money should be spent on advertisments. If you cannot spend 25% of your budget on advertising, don’t make the film! Recommend

  • A.khan
    Jun 26, 2011 - 6:00PM

    I think BOL will attract back the viewers both in Pakistan and across the world. My friends have seen it and according to them it is much much better than its counter titled Khamosh RahoRecommend

  • Raj
    Jun 26, 2011 - 7:05PM

    What about co-production with Bollywood..even Canada is co-producing with Bollywood. In September a Canadian Movie DREAMAWAY will be released both in India and Canada. The movie is a comedy like BEND IT LIKE BECKHAMRecommend

  • raha
    Jun 26, 2011 - 9:11PM

    it could have been good Khuda ke liye was 100 times better BOL is more like a propoganda movie and for sure do not watch it with family Recommend

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