Consequences: Cinemas deserted as audience awaits release of Indian films

Posted on Nov 1 2016 - 9:32pm
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With dwindl­ing number­s, stakeh­olders say there’s no reason to contin­ue boycot­t

KARACHI: It would be an understatement to say that boycotting Indian films has had a huge blow on Pakistani cinemas. Where Bollywood contributed 60% to 70% of the overall cinema business, local and Hollywood films have not been able to sustain it on their own, with the exception of three major Eid releases. The situation has been frustrating for audiences and exhibitors alike, and cinema parking lots have never been emptier than they are nowadays.

Speaking with The Express Tribune, Atrium Cinemas managing director Nadeem Mandviwalla said, “I would not say there has been a loss, but yes, business is low. Fewer people are coming to cinemas these days.” However, he expected the business to pick up once new films are released.

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A Nueplex Cinemas official, who requested anonymity, said they have suffered huge losses as a result of the boycott. When asked whether it was a good move, he said it was at that time. “However, in retrospective, it did not prove to be one.”

Super Cinemas general manager Khorem Gultasab echoed the sentiment. “It was a good move at the time. The whole reason we boycotted Indian films was because they were going to cut Fawad’s role and threatening not to release Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. So we did it to make the statement — that our artists shouldn’t be taken for granted. National integrity surpasses every other factor,” he said. “But now, the situation is fine. His role wasn’t cut and the film released without any interruptions throughout India so there’s no reason to continue the boycott. It’s only affecting us.”

After the boycott, exhibitors decided to rerun old Pakistani films to fill space and keep the flow of audience coming, but to no avail. “We did reruns of Pakistani films but not a single ticket was sold. Not one person came to watch those Pakistani films,” said the Nueplex official.

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When it comes to Hollywood releases, they clearly have a niche market as compared to Bollywood. “Hollywood films work, but only on weekends. However, they can only have a full-house for one or two shows but can’t sustain it for long.”

He emphasised the consequences of not releasing Bollywood films. “If we can’t sustain our business, people would have to be fired and cinemas shut down. We need at least two Pakistani films per month to sustain ourselves and I don’t see that happening for at least three to four years.”

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According to him, cinema-owners are already getting a lot of requests to screen Indian films again.” Now that the situation is not so tense anymore, we are hoping things will get better soon.”

Gultasab agreed, saying, “About 80% of the calls we receive inquire about Indian films. That’s about 3,000 people and they all want to watch Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. It’s about the quality of the films. They don’t care if it’s Bollywood, Hollywood or a Pakistani film. If it’s a good film, they’ll watch it,” he said. “But most of the films we produce aren’t good enough, case in point being Abdullah – The Final Witness, which was released on October 28. It totally bombed with only 10-14 people in a 300-seat hall!”

While, the consensus is that boycotting Indian films was the right move at the time, the situation has changed now and must be dealt with accordingly. “Our industry hasn’t matured enough to sustain itself. The move reflected our mutual stance on the situation at the time. However, it is getting better now and I’m hoping that cinema owners resume Indian films. We must not let the industry die.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 2nd, 2016.

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Consequences: Cinemas deserted as audience awaits release of Indian films was last modified: November 1st, 2016 by greendecker

This article was originally published on http://tribune.com.pk/story/1217644/consequences-cinemas-deserted-audience-awaits-release-indian-films/