How Lollywood was ousted from cinemas

Published: March 20, 2013
Cinema manager talks about the failures of the local film industry. DESIGN: SAMRA AAMIR

Cinema manager talks about the failures of the local film industry. DESIGN: SAMRA AAMIR

Cinema manager talks about the failures of the local film industry. DESIGN: SAMRA AAMIR Cinema manager talks about the failures of the local film industry.

Lollywood has remained a struggling industry for years — not only does it need a loyal audience, large budgets, proper screening and quality scripts but it also yearns for producers’ support.

However, it seems these criteria are still not enough as 2011’s big-budget film Son of Pakistan — touted as the first major release in the industry in ages — failed at the box office. Consequently, the willingness to provide Pakistani films a chance in the local industry has further condensed.

Despite a budget of Rs35 million, director Jarrar Rizvi admits that Son of Pakistan, which stars Meera in a lead role, was simply not up to par; the film was made in the format of ‘90s action thrillers, conspiracies, national narratives and the war on terror. “Maybe if we emphasised on advertising and made sure that people came to watch the film, it might have helped,” he adds, blaming producer Chaudhry Hameed who pushed for a release prior to Muharram at the same time Ra.One and Don 2 were being screened.

“We tried hard to promote Pakistani films but the truth is that film-makers themselves don’t believe in their films,” says manager of PAF Cinema Nadir Minhas, adding that they screened the film for free for two weeks in which they gave 100% of the sales to the film’s producer and not a single ticket was sold. Neither did any of the main actors turn up to promote it, apart from Pakistani film actor Sila Hussain and a few others.

“This will have to change — they don’t even try to promote their films or go an ounce out of their way to make sure the film is screened,” Minhas adds.

The manager explains that a shift has occurred, leaving classically-styled traditional Lollywood films in a rut — they don’t qualify for the big screen and questions regarding where the money invested in these projects goes, have also surfaced. “These are [supposed to be] big budget films but I’ve see them and I wonder what they did with all that money,” Minhas sighs. “The production is shaky and it [the film] just won’t survive.”

Last year, only five films made it to local cinemas in Punjab; Acha Gujjar, Gujjar da Kharak, Shareeka and two other small productions. The real shift however, is that unlike four years ago, old (single) cinemas prefer Bollywood films over Pakistani ones. “I think there are some cinema owners who want to screen Pakistani films but they say they have to meet the competition now,” says Minhas.

Minhas admits that two years ago, Bhai Log earned Rs4.4 million in Lahore and showed there was potential in this industry. He also reveals that certain agreements between film producers and single cinemas are also signed where the cinema buys the rights to a certain film — this means other single cinemas cannot screen the same film.

Other agreements which include lopsided partnerships were also done such as 80-20 (80% profit for one party and 20% for the other) or 70-30. But with the advent of Indian films, cinemas have become business partners in 60-40 and in the next week of screening, turn it into a 50-50 partnership.

“A market for action thrillers has also come about within the city’s single-screen cinemas,” he says, adding, “it has really changed the dynamics of how the market functions.” Only five films released last year (excluding Indian films) and Minhas feels, “There is little to no chance that cinemas would be able to survive — this isn’t six or seven years ago where cinemas could run sub-par films.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2013.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • gp65
    Mar 21, 2013 - 6:22AM

    DOes not seem like Bollywood ousted Lollywood. Seems like Lollywood scored a self goal.


  • syed baqar ahsan
    Mar 21, 2013 - 9:07AM

    In the name of ISLAM everything spoiled like culture,social activities,education,parent’s grooming,poor man’s theaters,takis,cinema,festivals.Only masjids,madrasses are being build by foreign funding’s by different sects in close proxy to preach hatred against each other.


  • Manju
    Mar 21, 2013 - 9:16AM

    And they say Bollywood is ‘anti-Islam’!


  • Vishnu Dutta
    Mar 21, 2013 - 12:11PM

    Pakistan never had a film industry, whatever golden period it had was due to left over talents and infra from pre partition.
    It is unlikely that lolly can rise up again and compete with bolly.

    Better option is to merge(Co production) lolly with bolly or close it altogether and concentrate on niche movies, TV, documentaries, stage shows and music.


  • Dhaka
    Mar 21, 2013 - 12:28PM

    Ha ha we bangladesh have better cinema than pakistanRecommend

  • blah
    Mar 21, 2013 - 4:38PM

    I did watch SIYAAH recently, it was a good movie except bad lighting and noise and crappy camera -_- If Pakistan starts making good movies, I’d be the first one to watch


  • Asad Shairani
    Mar 21, 2013 - 5:15PM

    Our producers and directors are still in denial. They refuse to accept that a good film does not require big budgets. Listen to Syed Noor talking on tv, and the top two reasons he cites for the failure of Pakistani cinema are Indian movies, and low budgets. Unless educated, artistic people start making movies (some of them already have), our cinema would continue like this.


  • JB
    Mar 21, 2013 - 5:58PM

    Change the same old love stories. Bring in some daring concepts. The problem is film makers do not want to take risks. They choose the safe route going for the same formula. Go for horror. Go for thrillers. The public has enough of the same old routine run down story telling in Pakistani movies. You do not need a big budget for a good story. Zibah Khaana was a low budget horror movie and had it a good promotional machine behind it, it would have done reasonable business in cinemas. It wasnt a masterpiece but it was a start.


  • Bharat
    Mar 21, 2013 - 7:28PM

    One thing as an India i really want to say now. Pakistani serials used to be very popular in India
    in late 80s and early 90s. There is no reason why Pakistan could not make movies

    I think a variety of reasons have led to this issue. Globally also Hollywood has taken over the whole world

    Except Hollywood ,the only successful film industries are Bollywood, Hong Kong and Nigeria.

    While majority of the worlds nations make movies,they make very few.Ex- France or ItalyRecommend

  • Anil
    Mar 21, 2013 - 7:48PM

    Well…You can produce good films even with moderate budgets. Take the case of Indian Regional Cinema where the average production cost of a movie is only about Rs 40-50lakhs. This year, they have won more National Awards than Bollywood Films which are made normally with big budgets.

    Even Iran,Bangladesh and Nepal produce better movies than Pakistan. Why?

    Films are basically the reflection of the society in which you live… the society must preserve, promote, conserve and maintain their cultural heritage and all forms of art and culture


  • Mar 24, 2013 - 12:52PM

    honestly pakistan films are poor in clarity and quality and were made on 60′ techmology but why local directors ask pakistan people to not take kindly to Indian films,it is the right of people of pakistan to watch high defination quality and clarity pics,contents,3D,special effects etc etc and Indian films offering those so they are watching it,complaining about Indian film wont help.instead of asking people not to watch Indian films the local directors should compete with Indian film and offer high technology film that Indian films offers and if they cant it its their problem and they should shut..why should people of pakistan suffer for pakistan local directors inability to bring quality and HD is all but local directors fault but not the fault of Indian films or pakistan public.


  • Gaurav
    Apr 24, 2013 - 6:33PM

    I think the problem for pakistanis is the “superiority complex” in every aspect of life, whether it is related to culture, film, or being a nation also. The need to be adoptive with changing phase of the life has always been ignored in each and every case and this is the root cause of the failure in each case. For some time, I have been watching some news channels program on you tube and been surprised to learn how rigid the people can become because of self denial and superiority complex. Also found the anchors having the same mentality at many places while they would have been neutral. Banning Indian films would not make any difference and lots of have been discussed on this. They must have an open mind and think in the broader spectrum now.


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