KARACHI: Operation 021 was a movie which was expected to open to cheers and supposed to have a long run at local cinemas but unfortunately that was not the case for some cinemas. The movie was jeered off screens at three of Pakistan’s most popular single-screen cinemas: Bambino, Capri in Karachi and Dreamland in Multan.
The producers of the film, Azaan Sami Khan, Zeba Bakhtiar, and Jami all gathered at the Karachi Press Club to address the “injustice” meted out to them by these cinema owners.
“If people say that our film is not up to the mark then how come it’s doing brilliant business in other cinemas across the country,” asked Jami, the c0-director of the film.
“For the film industry to develop we need to adopt the correct and proper method of doing things. If producers wanted to take down our film they should’ve informed us or the distributors first and gradually take down the film rather than just throwing it out,” he added.
Capri, Bambino and Dreamland had reportedly taken down the spy-thriller just 25 minutes into the film. The cinemas claimed that the audiences resorted to throwing bottles at the screen.
Azaan Sami Khan, who is the youngest producer from Pakistan to make a feature-length film, said that such events take us a step back rather than forward, and force artistes and producers to look for work elsewhere.
“Both my mother and father formed successful careers in India and I could have chosen that path too. We talk about putting Pakistani cinema on the global map but such events won’t help our cause,” exclaimed Khan.
He added that the film’s language was not a factor that contributed to the response it received in these cinemas.
“Operation 021 was in Urdu, Pashto, Dari and English. To say it was language that contributed to all of this would be wrong and would open up another debate. As all of these are languages of Pakistan,” said Khan.
In telephonic conversation at the press conference, the film’s lead actor Shaan announced that the film has grossed around Rs57.5 million in its first week. However, the distributor said the film had garnered Rs32.5 million in its first week.
Muhammad Rizwan, the assistant manager of Distribution Club, the distributors of Operation 021, claimed that the cinema owners had taken down the film without informing the producers or the distributors.
“The events at Capri, Bambino and Dreamland have not only damaged the film business but our reputation as a distribution company; and therefore not only will we be taking legal action against these cinema owners but we will also stop providing films to these cinemas,” said Rizwan.
According to Rizwan, “After the riots began at Bambino, Capri decided to take down the film as they did not want to put their cinema in danger of being damaged once again.”
Distributor was informed
Adeel Siddiqui, the owner of Bambino though rejected accusations of bias towards Indian films. “If I did not want to screen Pakistani films, I would have even removed Na Maloom Afraad from Bambino but that film is still running in there.”
Siddiqui further clarified that officials of the Distribution Club were informed when the film was being taken off the screens.
“They were informed because we are bound to inform the distributors. I don’t know why they are denying it,” he said. “We are exhibitors (cinema owners) and share a long-term relationship with distributors – we keep playing their films throughout the year. I would never do anything that hampers that relationship.”