LAHORE: They may have been associated with bulky women dancing to please angry men but the cultural impact of Pashto films seems to be a lot bigger than our stereotypical understanding of this regional language film industry. Their popularity is as big as the population of Pashto speaking people, which is primarily settled and hails from the Pashtun belt of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Which is why locally made Pashto films are gaining ground in Afghanistan and have started to stand out among the flood of Irani films that usually dominates the box office in Afghanistan. Director- producer Sanober Qaiser’s film Sartaiz Badmaash was released in two cinemas in Kabul on Eid and performed better than what the producer of the film had expected.
“Though the exact box office numbers are not out yet but our film did a tremendous business in Kabul,” Qaiser told The Express Tribune. “It was a lot more than what we had expected in a popular market like Afghanistan.”
However, Sartaiz Badmaash is not the first Pakistani Pashto film to be screened in Afghanistan, the tradition actually started in 2001.
“There was a time when we couldn’t even think of competing with Irani films but things have changed over time. Afghanistan’s predominantly Persian listening cinema audience is now getting used to hardcore Pashto and we have also tried to make our content more meaningful and production quality better ” added Qaiser.
Apart from Sartaiz Badmaash that received a simultaneous international and local release, films Pakhtun Pay Dubai may get released not only in Kabul but Dubai as well.
“Dubai has a huge Pashtun population who love going to cinemas to see Pakistani actors light up the screen. And since Arbaaz’s film is also shot and based in Dubai, the audience will definitely enjoy that,” Faizi Khan, a distributor of Pashto films told The Express Tribune.
With the producers having found a lucrative international market and fresh faces entering into the film business, it seems like Pashto cinema is all set to regain its lost glory.
“Last year, four Pashto films were release on Eidul Fitr but this year seven films were released and this is proof that Pashto film viewership has increased,” Pashto film actor, Jahangir Jani told The Express Tribune.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2015.
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