It is truly an exciting time for Pakistani cinema. Over the course of the last year and a half, Pakistani filmmakers have treaded into new and untested waters and unsurprisingly all of them have managed to wow the audience.
First there was Bilal Lashari’s action-thriller Waar, then Nabeel Qureshi’s game-changing comedy Na Maloom Afraad and last but not the least Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s animated movie 3 Bahadur.
Billed as Pakistan’s first animated feature film, the movie is in the midst of a stellar run at the box office and has now become the highest-grossing animated movie in the history of Pakistani cinema.
Previously the record was held by Blue Sky Studio’s Rio 2 which grossed an estimated Rs 4.5 crore but 3 Bahadur has comfortably managed to outdo the Hollywood movie after only three weeks with a box office collection of Rs 4.7 crore up till now.
According to the executive producer of 3 Bahadur Jerjees Seja, the success of the film underlined the fact that Pakistani audiences want to ‘watch their own films’.
“It is really great that a first ever Pakistani animated film has managed to outdo a major Hollywood franchise like Rio 2 in terms of box office,” said Jerjees.
Released in over 35 cinemas the movie has managed to perform well at cinemas in both Punjab and Sindh, with each province contributing 50 per cent to the total box office collection. The film was not released in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
“Although the film did perform well in its first week it has picked up tremendously during the last two weeks,” said Khurram Gultasab, the general manager of the chain of Super Cinemas in Punjab. He identified ‘exams’ as a major reason behind the lesser turnout in the cinemas during the first week.
Released during the highly crowded summer window the movie faced tough competition from other international releases with movies likePiku, Bombay Velvet, Tanu Weds Manu Returns and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
“3 Bahadur was released three weeks ago opposite five other films but despite the stern competition, it is still running in cinemas and is doing remarkable business,” he added.
Box office results and critical response aside the movie has managed to woo audiences of all ages; which according to various stakeholders of the film industry was one of the key factors that have led to the film becoming such a success. “With other movies, like Mad Max: Fury Road, a person would usually go and watch the movie with a friend or two but with 3 Bahadur you have whole families coming in and watching the movies,” remarked Khurram Gultasab.
A few days ago, at the press conference for Moor, Nadeem Mandviwalla had noted how Pakistani cinema had managed to outdo Bollywood with just their first release. “India has made six animated features to-date but none of them have been successful and our first film has become a big hit.”
The success of 3 Bahadur comes as a welcome sign for a number of animation studios which have emerged within the country and shown an interest in animated feature films.
Musician, Haroon who heads the animation company Unicorn Black, which has produced the TV show Burka Avenger, said that as a person belonging from the same industry it was heartening for him to see that such content was being made in the country and was hopeful more people would follow suit.
“The stuff that Waadi Animations has done is high-quality and I am sure that we would be making world-class content in the near
Jerjees Seja seconded Haroon’s notion saying that the first step is always the hardest and considering that it has yielded great results other people would also start showing an interest in this genre of filmmaking.
With 3 Bahadur only going from strength to strength the makers of the film have already provided themselves with a cushion given that they intend to release a sequel by December next year.
Who knows they may end up creating one of Pakistani cinemas first-ever animated franchises?