2017 kick started on a low note for the Pakistani film industry.
Having just recuperated from the five-month ban on Bollywood films, cinemas were struggling to bring their lost audiences back. Three months in, and they are still struggling. The fact that there has been no high-profile film to attract crowds, low attendance in theatres prevails.
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According to the official, the film was released in 55 cinemas across the country but the distributors have suffered financially. “We are disappointed and have realised that purchasing Raasta was not a good decision. Now we are facing losses. Besides other factors, technically its production, script, acting and dialogues were weak and disappointed the public,” he told The Express Tribune, requesting anonymity.
“ Despite repeated requests, Sahir Lodhi didn’t hold a press conference in Lahore even though he was present in the city. We were surprised at his overconfidence and now the result is in front of everyone,” he added.
The Distribution Club’s claims go parallel with the exhibitors who are witnessing the crowd turning away from their cinemas. Prince cinema owner in Gujranwala, Nasir Ismail said, “The performance has been very poor. There were only 75 people in a 600-seat cinema on the first day. I haven’t watched the film but everyone who did was left disappointed. People are not coming to watch anymore because no one liked it.”
Super Cinemas general manager Khorem Gultasab shared that they even took Raasta off the multiplex after the weekend. “We took Raasta off the multiplex screens because there was no audience for it. The maximum turnout was 10 to 24 people per show,” he mentioned.
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He even questioned the distributors’ decision to even deem Raasta suitable for public viewing. “Distributors should have thought about whether this film was suitable for public screening. It was a torture to watch. But being a supporter of Pakistani cinema, I still gave it morning, evening and night shows every day but it didn’t matter – because no one came to watch it. We opened advance bookings a week before the release but not a single ticket was booked,” revealed Gultasab.
However, Ismail considered it too harsh to merely blame Raasta for the lack of turnout. “The fact is that business is not great in the first quarter of the year. The last few Pakistani films were so uninteresting and poorly made that they have driven the audiences away,” he stated. “Besides that, the ban on Indian films broke the momentum and those who used to frequent cinemas weekly don’t do it anymore. So, a large chunk of audience members has been lost.”
In a live Facebook session on April 5, comedian Junaid Akram and Lodhi talked about the low attendance due to exhibitors relegating the film to merely 11am shows. However, upon checking Cinepax Cinemas website, Raasta has three shows per day at 2:45pm, 5:30pm and 10pm whereas Atrium Cinemas have one evening show per day. Meanwhile, according to the Nueplex cinemas website, Raasta also has one 8:15pm show per day.
Atrium, Cinepax and Nueplex representatives were unavailable for comment.