2017 has been an interesting year for Pakistani film industry so far.
We bounced back from the ban on Indian films in an attempt to recover financially. Meanwhile, Pakistani film-makers continue to practice and improve their craft.
The first four months of the year have passed and we have seen five film releases so far: Thora Jee Le, Balu Mahi, Whistle, Raasta and the latest Chalay Thay Saath.
The Express Tribune spoke with exhibitors in order to find out the success-failure ratio of these films and whether the business situation has improved since the ban on Bollywood films was lifted.
“There hasn’t been a successful Pakistani film so far in 2017,” noted Cinepax General Manager Marketing Mohsin Yaseen. “Thora Jee le and Whistle didn’t do anything. Raasta, as everyone knows, bombed as well. Balu Mahi was a visually better film but it didn’t work either. Chalay Thay Saath is also doing just okay.”
Atrium Cinemas managing director Nadeem Mandviwalla agreed on Chalay Thay Saath doing slightly better. However, he said, “But things haven’t changed much business-wise from last year. The ban took such a toll on cinemas that we have yet to recover.” With all local films failing to gather significant business at the box office, only recent foreign films like Fast 8 have contributed in helping the financial situation of cinemas.
Yaseen said while the local films have slightly improved, there is a long way to go. “We have to understand what makes a quality film. Pakistani films are becoming visually better, but they still lack in storytelling.”
Films like Thora Jee Le should be banned in Pakistan
Super Cinemas general manager Khorem Gultasab echoed the sentiment that locals films are not yet up to the mark. But he said he saw improvement in the quality of films this year. “We have to understand the psyche of the masses. They like item numbers but we have to entertain and educate them about quality films. If they knew films like Chalay Thay Saath, which is a feel-good film and shows our culture beautifully, would perform much better.”
He noted that we were currently going through a transition phase. “It’s not a revolution; it’s an evolution in process. We should encourage new writers and storytellers, who would tell great stories, keeping in mind and remaining within our social fiber.”
But while the first third of 2017 has been disappointing, exhibitors are hoping things would pick up sooner than later. Yaseen said he was hoping big things from Eid releases such as Yalghaar. Mandviwalla felt the same regarding Eid releases. Gultasab anticipated Shoaib Mansoor’s comeback film Verna.
The trailer of Sahir Lodhi’s debut film Raasta will leave you in splits
It’s to be noted that Out of five, there have been only two significant films, Chalay Thay Saath and Balu Mahi, to come out in 2017 so far. But even they have not been able pick up the momentum, although they had the star power of Osman Khalid Butt, Sadaf Kanwal (Balu Mahi) and Syra Shehroz (Chalay Thay Saath). It’s safe to say that the ban on Bollywood massively affected the momentum and even films which could’ve done well earlier have been affected by it.
But with Eidul Fitr only a couple of months away and films such as Hassan Rana’s Yalghaar (which boasts of a star-studded cast of Shaan, Humayun Saeed, Ayesha Omar and others) and Yasir Nawaz’s Mehrunnisa We Lub You planned for release, exhibitors are hoping the rest of the year will definitely bring back the biz to cinemas.