KARACHI: At a press conference by the United Producers Association (UPA) on Monday, actors voiced their opinions and ideas regarding the current situation of the industry. Celebrities including Atiqa Odho, Tanveer Jamal, Sajid Hasan, Faisal Rehman, Faisal Qureshi, Adnan Gilani, Arbaaz Khan and Bakhtiar Ahmed all spoke volumes on how to revive the film industry in order to compete with Indian entertainment content.
General Secretary of the association Abdul Wasi Qureshi inaugurated the session and said, “Indian television and films hold sway over Pakistani channels and cinema houses because we have lost our true patriotic spirit. It is such a pity that Pakistani artistes who go to India win laurels there but are rarely acknowledged within native bounds.”
Tanveer Jamal, chairman of the UPA spoke about the organisation’s primary focus and explained why it is so important to the industry. “UPA is an organization which was founded four years ago by Sajid Hasan and Atiqa Odho. UPA’s main aim remains to act as a bridge between the TV channels and producers. Let’s talk about film revival here and a couple of cinema houses on main MA Jinnah road that look more like Mumbai than Pakistan.”
Jamal also used this platform to promote his new film, Ab Payember Nahi Aayain Gay which he feels, “will counter the negative image of Pakistan and the alter the false concept of Islam that seems to have taken the world in a spin.”
The press conference continued with every artiste emphasising the need to rebuild a niche cultural identity for Pakistan. Bakhtiar Ahmed extended this viewpoint, adding that Indian cultural influence needs to be curtailed in order to move forward and promote local arts.
Actor Faisal Qureshi took to the podium to share a personal experience, explaining how the Pakistani audience can make all the difference if they made a conscious choice and realized how their current preferences adversely impact the local film industry. He said, “I was in a foreign country when I met Salman Khan and he told me Wanted earned nearly Rs750 million in Pakistan alone, when we hardly have more than 200 cinema houses across the country.” The actor showed disappointment at Pakistani film buffs being so easily swayed by foreign films that rob local films of a market at home.
Arbaaz Khan struck a positive note, reminding the audience of local stars who have received international recognition because of their talent, “Let bygones be bygones. But tell me something, has India ever produced even a single singer like Noor Jehan, Mehdi Hasan, Nusrat or Rahat Fateh Ali or even Atif Aslam? The list is endless and the day might come to an end but the list will go on.”
Atiqa Odho highlighted the importance of work ethics, “Whatever (respect and love) I have received I have earned it has been from my own country, Pakistan. There are a couple of channels that have not paid their workers’ salaries for months; we should fight against such injustices. We need to empower the worker, be it the technician, the writer and anyone working behind the camera.”
Odho also spoke about the importance of abiding by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority laws and applauded Tanveer Jamal and Sajid Hasan for their pioneering ventures. Faisal Rehman, Begum Azra Mohyuddin and Adnan Gilani reiterated the same stance taken by the artistes.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st, 2010.