Bhooli hui hun daastan: When the tide hits the wall

No films from Lahore-based producers are being released this Eidul Azha as Karachi takes charge

Adnan Lodhi September 18, 2015
As Syed Noor delays the release of Bhai Wanted, all eyes are set on Jawani Phir Nahi Ani. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY


Gone are the days when Lahore used to be the hub of filmmaking.  This year not a single Urdu or Punjabi film from a Lahore-based producer will be releasing on Eidul Azha and this has put film producers and directors in a fix. According to director Pervaiz Rana, this has happened for the first time in the history of Pakistani cinema. Even Syed Noor, who was expected to release the much awaited Bhai Wanted on Eid backed out and offered his 15-year-old film, Sanam, as a replacement.

“There was a time when Lahori producers would churn out a dozen films on Eidul Azha and now they can’t even release one,” veteran actor Mustafa Qureshi told The Express Tribune. “The situation has come to this point due to the state’s negligence of its cultural hub and a lack of support for arts in general. The government doesn’t realise that thousands of families affiliated with the film business are being affected by this debacle.”

This dent in the Lahore film industry is not only restricted to the number of films being produced, but has also taken a toll on the storytellers that once ruled the silver screen.  Well known directors like Rana, Masood Butt, Sangeeta, Sayed Noor, Altaf Hussain, Dawood Butt, Iqbal Kashmiri, Shahzad Rafique and Javed Raza have completely disappeared from the film front.

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“The reason why no films are being produced in Lahore is that no one is willing to invest in directors from this city and everyone is investing in films of Karachi-based directors,” Rana told The Express Tribune. “Lahore used to be the hub of filmmaking and that is just not the case anymore. But I along with other directors from the ‘Lollywood’ era are trying our best to attract potential investors and make sure that we don’t have to see such a sad Eid again.”

The decline has snowballed onto the actors as well. The likes of Noor, Saima, Laila, Moama Rana, Sana, Nirma and Zara Sheikh are nowhere to be seen on the celluloid. Where age maybe a key factor in deciding the shelf life of an actor, in this case, it seems more a case of staying relevant with changing trends. However, film actor Meera thinks that unlike most of her contemporaries from Lahore, her career has not ended.

“Just because none of my films were released on Eid in the past seven years, it does not mean that my career has ended. I am just waiting for the right opportunity,” Meera told The Express Tribune. “Lahore, based filmmakers are being consciously sidelined by the Karachi lobby and we will have to do something about it.”

On the other hand, Shaan, the only actor who has stayed relevant through Lollywood’s evolution into ‘Pakistani cinema’, advocates that this Lahore and Karachi divide will eventually engulf the very industry that we are trying to create.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2015.

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PakPhilmPhan | 6 years ago | Reply Karachi is the nerve center for film making in Pakistan, however, people from all over the country -- and not just Karachi -- are working in the current setup. The article fails to mention that most of the directors/technicians from the old lollywood are either inept or incapable of working with modern story telling or the newer digital technology. Those who have some reputation, like Shaan and Syed Noor, have made moved on. Sahir Ali Bagga, an old lollywood music arranger, is now the most sought after music director. The biggest release this Eid, Jawani Phir Nahi Aani, has a male cast (with the exception of Humayun Saeed) which is all from Lahore/Islamabad. The old incompetent lot, responsible for killing the industry, and producing films not worthy of even killing time with, will always crib about "lobbies" and "divides" whereas Karachi is basically open to anyone capable of producing good work. And good work is coming out, finally.
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