Filmmakers have been banned from shooting in Hazara division – an area home to some of the most picturesque locations in the country.
This was revealed by Pashto actor and producer Shahid Khan on Wednesday.
Shahid said no entertainment industry can survive in the absence of government patronage.
“A handful of filmmakers are left in Pakistan. Instead of supporting the revival of Pashto cinema, the government has resorted to placing restrictions,” he said, adding cinema houses and production companies require government support in order to continue functioning. “We spent millions on a project and out of nowhere we received instructions to pack up and leave the division immediately,” he said.
He was addressing the pre-launch ceremony of his latest venture, Charta Khanan Charta Malangan at Arshad Cinema. “We have entertained people in the most volatile of times,” he said. “Filmmakers have upped their game by using advanced equipment and highlighting blemishes in the social fabric.”
The producer also took to task critics who blame Pashto movies for misrepresenting Pukhtun culture. “Those who criticise us should come forward and produce movies that they think portray our traditions and values appropriately,” he said. Shahid said the film industry is a tax contributor.
Charta Khanan Charta Malangan will be released across multiple cinemas of the province on Friday. It will also be exhibited in Karachi, Quetta and Kabul, Afghanistan. Parts of the film have been shot in different valleys of Punjab, following the ban placed by the Hazara division administration.
Its storyline revolves around the Malik and Khan system and explores how the class divide affects those who are underprivileged. “The movie urges all oppressed sections of society to speak up for their rights,” said Imran Khan, who plays the antagonist in the movie. The film has been directed by Tanveer Khan while Shakirzaib Nowsheravi has produced its official soundtrack.
State of affairs
A total of five production houses operate in the province and on average produce 24 movies annually. While the market of other regional films has seen a decline over the years, Pashto cinema has held its mark despite the odds. Filmmakers have been widely criticised for layering plots with excessive violence and ‘counterculture’ in order to make the project sell.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2015.