Troubled Lollywood gets a visa!

Published: May 17, 2013
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The film’s director Shahzad Rafique feels the demand for a Pakistani film in Canada is “rock solid”. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

The film’s director Shahzad Rafique feels the demand for a Pakistani film in Canada is “rock solid”. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

LAHORE: 

The words “deteriorating”, “declining” and “dismal” have often been employed to describe our film industry. To be fair, Lollywood never really made a mark internationally in terms of presence, popularity or an intense fan following. But for the first time, a Lollywood production is being premiered internationally, with Ishq Khuda slated for screening at the Punjabi International Film Festival (PIFF) 2013 in Toronto on May 18. Is this, we wonder, the beginning of a new era for the industry? Are things finally looking up?

“The demand for a Pakistani film in Canada is rock solid,” director Shahzad Rafique tells The Express Tribune from India, where he is currently working. He says that festival organiser Sunny Gill was “very eager to play a quality Pakistani film.”

Adding that the release of Bol is a reflection of this demand, he says, “Bol did better than any Bollywood film which was released around the same time – if we want to make space for our movies in the global market, we need to tackle subjects which have international relevance. Otherwise the vision of our cinema will remain limited [to just Pakistan].”

The film’s cast includes Ahsan Khan, Meera, Shaan and Moroccan actor Wiam Dhamani. Meera and Wiam are currently in Toronto to promote the movie at PIFF – an annual event which aims to bring Punjabi culture into the spotlight.

The film’s director Shahzad Rafique feels the demand for a Pakistani film in Canada is “rock solid”. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Ishq Khuda experiments with the themes of sufism and spirituality. Rafique explains that the project was an attempt to raise the question of “higher love” in comparison to the pursuit of relatively selfish worldly desires. The soundtrack, which has already received rave reviews since its release last month, has been composed by Wajahat Attray and includes the strong vocals of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Sanam Marvi. It also features the return of renowned playback singer Shazia Manzoor.

“Film is a powerful medium of communication and representation. It’s very important for Pakistani films to have a global market,” continues Rafique. “We need to show the world who we are as a nation and clear all misunderstandings about us.” He feels local producers haven’t been able to take advantage of the growing international market due to the lack of quality output.

The film’s director Shahzad Rafique feels the demand for a Pakistani film in Canada is “rock solid”. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

The director admits that it was the global value he added to Ishq Khuda which helped promote a softer image of the film. He has also produced films such as Salakhain (2004) and Mohabbataan Sachiyaan (2007) which did well internationally despite non-conducive conditions – they were also released in India and were rated 2.5 and 3.5 out of five, respectively, by the Times of India.

Although Rafique is unsure of how the film will be received by the audience, he remains positive that they will appreciate the final product. “I really can’t say anything about how it will do at the box office but I have said everything I wanted to through this film,” he continues. “I am satisfied with the end result and now it’s really just up to the viewers.”

The film’s director Shahzad Rafique feels the demand for a Pakistani film in Canada is “rock solid”. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

At the end, the director says he is screening the film abroad to inspire young film-makers. “I’m trying to form pathways for them which will open up avenues for the exhibition of their work internationally.”

After its first screening in Toronto, the film is expected to be released in Pakistan on Eidul Fitr.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 18th, 2013.                    

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Reader Comments (12)

  • gp65
    May 17, 2013 - 9:43PM

    ““Bol did better than any Bollywood film which was released around the same time – if we want to make space for our movies in the global market, we need to tackle subjects which have international relevance. Otherwise the vision of our cinema will remain limited [to just Pakistan].”

    Bol indeed was a nice movie. But the facts mentioned abve are simply incorrect. Bol and Bodyguard were released around the same time internationally. There is absolutely no question as to which movie collected higher international revenue (outside India and Pakistan). As for India/Pakistan Bol made 9.4 crore Pakistani rupess (around 5 crore indian rupees) in Pakistan and 2.8 crore in India for a total of 7.8 crore Indian rupees.In India alone Bodyguard netted over 150 crores Indian rupees.

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  • np
    May 17, 2013 - 9:46PM

    Huh? Being screened in a “Punjabi International Film Festival (PIFF)” is an example of international success?

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  • Tera
    May 17, 2013 - 9:59PM

    Please count me in as a Huge (non Pakistani) Fan of your work. I specially love the music in your movies.

    Wishing you lots of success from New York.

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  • omar
    May 17, 2013 - 11:18PM

    “The demand for a Pakistani film in Canada is rock solid,” director Shahzad Rafique tells The Express Tribune from India, where he is currently working. He says that festival organiser Sunny Gill was “very eager to play a quality Pakistani film.”

    So you need India in some way or the other…

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  • Suleman
    May 18, 2013 - 12:35AM

    Great success ! Good to know that our regional cinema is making it mark internationally. Congrats to the whole team.

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  • just_someone
    May 18, 2013 - 3:23AM

    Is that Meera in those pictures?

    If so, she looks really different, doesnt she?

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  • Optimist
    May 18, 2013 - 5:01AM

    I also like the music of Shehzad Rafique films. His movies appear to be sound technically but I am not sure I can say the same about the story.
    .
    Let’s hope story of this film is better than Salakhein

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  • May 18, 2013 - 11:26AM

    India is a cultural juggernaut, a truly soft power. It has a vibrant society, which respects the arts in all its forms, be it movies, music, literature,etc.

    Due to such vibrancy, it has not one but dozens of music Industries.

    Pakistan has to ask itself if its as culturally vibrant and dynamic as India. If you don’t have that, you can never have a viable Movie industry.

    People who say due to competition Pakistani movies are doing bad or good, let me remind you that movie industries in India, compete with each other(Hindi with Kannada movies in my City – Bangalore) and in some cases enjoy monopoly(Tamil movie industry). Since, both are born in a culture that worships the arts, they not only survive, but thrive.

    Pakistan stopped being India in 1947, does it still have traces of India, is the question..Recommend

  • saad
    May 18, 2013 - 2:04PM

    pathetic films by him in the past! n this one is just hyped! what is he doing in india? editing? and what else did he avail of from there? like shaan, against acting in indian movie,s of all the things had promos made for zil e shah!! n as if young film makers ‘abroad’ will be inspired by him!!! if only the film industry had existed in karachi like it used to it wouldn’t have fizzled!

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  • Ahsan
    May 18, 2013 - 2:12PM

    @just_someone : Thats not meera , she is Wiam Ammar Dahmani ( Dubai-based actress and singer)

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  • Anil
    May 18, 2013 - 4:05PM

    @Optimist: “His movies appear to be sound technically…”

    Was that an achievement for the Pakistani Film Industry?

    Most of the Post Production activities (like Video Editing, Visual & Sound Effects, Titling/Sub-Titling, Soundtrack Re-recording,etc…) of those films happened in India. Pakistan doesn’t have a self reliant film industry since the 1970’s (although it was never on par with any Indian film industry).

    The main factor which contributed to the decline of Pakistan film industry was the loss of its East Pakistan Territory – Bangladesh. With that Pakistan lost its culturally rich & vibrant Bengali people who excelled in all aspects of film making. This was further accentuated by the Islamization of the Pakistani society during the regime of Zia ul-Haq.

    Pakistan do have some talented singers, actors & directors but must grow as a cohesive industry. Pakistani culture may also have evolved since the time of partition. Whichever culture & genre of programming Lollywood shows on screen, it must first target producing commercially successful films for its own niche audience before contemplating going global.

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  • Petra
    May 21, 2013 - 8:44PM

    I loove pakistani movies.bollywood rocks :-)

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