In Focus: Are Indian movies important for our film industry’s survival?

Posted on Nov 7 2016 - 5:50am
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In Focus: Are Indian movies important for our film industry's survival? lyrics, OST title song mp3 download, cast, timings, drama review, written update (source: hipinpakistan)

Ever since we can remember, India and Pakistan have had a love-hate relationship. While we like to believe that the masses, of both indian and Pakistan, want to co-exist happily, the extremists groups ensure that the friendly relationship between the neighboring countries don’t last long. We enjoyed the time when our artists were welcomed in India with open arms and vice versa, our drama serials – hand picked by Zee Network – were praised by the Indian masses, and we saw movies like Bajrangi Bhaijaan and PK being made in Bollywood and hailed in Pakistan.

We also saw Indian veteran actors such as Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah working in our movies. Mahesh Bhatt, who is all for peace between India and Pakistan, gave Meera, Atif Aslam and Imran Abbas a chance to showcase their talent in Bollywood. Karan Johar made Fawad Khan the superstar he is today by signing him for Kapoor & Sons. Even our cinema opened up to Indian movies and sometimes even preferred to allot more screens to them as compared to our own movies.

But, as they say, nothing lasts forever and ever since the Uri attacks took place in September, situation between the two countries has escalated to extreme levels.

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With the MNS banning our artists from working in Bollywood and our exhibitors deciding to halt their films in return, we are left wondering if things will ever return to ‘normalcy’?

Emotions and nationalism are definitely running high on both sides of the border, but one question that haunts us when we think of our entertainment industry is:

Can our multiplexes and cinemas survive without Bollywood given the limited number of films we produce per year?

To get a clear picture, HIP got in touch with actors, directors and producers to ask if they thought Indian movies were essential for our industry’s survival? Will it harm our cinemas’ business? Will the lack of competition send us back to making mediocre film?

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Read: Should Indian movies be allowed to release alongside local movies?

HIP finds answers to all this and more.

Ahmed Ali Butt (actor/host/musician)

“If you ask me I feel that our film industry has just stood up on its feet and the main reason for that is foreign cinema. Whether it is indian movies or even Hollywood ones, the fact is, that we [Pakistani cinema] at the moment dont have the numbers to sustain the cinema industry so let’s call a spade, a spade shall we?,” Butt said truthfully.

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“We need foreign cinema at the moment whether we like it or not. There are several multiplexes opening this year alone and several are in construction. The demand is only going to grow as more and more people start going to cinemas again. I feel that we are definitely making better films day by day but we cannot match the numbers of the Indian or even the Hollywood films at the moment but Insha’Allah I’m very confident that one day we will.”

Shahzad Nasib (Tv/Movie Producer)

Nasib feel that this is an old debate and we should first reach a stage where we’re churning out good quality films at regular intervals before placing bans on foreign content.

“Whatever the situation might be between the two countries, this issue always arises. In my opinion, problems should have permanent solutions, re-ignition of Indian content in Pakistan or vice versa or even exchange of artists between the two countries have always had strings attached in the form of criticism as we have not yet come to a definite solution,” Nasib explained in detail and suggested to find a long term solution this time around instead of just sugar coating the issue. “There are many dimensions to this issue and every dimension has its own pros n cons. It’s not mathematics that 2+2=4. We have to realize that millions of people on both sides of the border watch each other’s content. Countries that fought world wars and killed millions of innocent civilians are now together sharing one currency due to their mutual interests.”

He added that he is not advocating any mitigation strategy or change of country’s stance.

“Like myself there are millions of common people, who have these questions in their minds. Fact of the matter is, how to support our cinemas at this stage? We don’t have content as backup because many of our films/movies are not ready yet so cinema owners are in a fix over lack of options.”

According to him, channel owners are in a better position as compared to cinema owners because they have access to content which can replace Indian content, but exhibitos don’t enjoy that luxury.

“Private TV channels are a bit better placed as content is somehow available to them to be aired. I may not be wrong in saying that our media industry may take up to five years to achieve self-sustaining status especially in case of films. Our content is as good as anybody else’s. All we need is to believe in ourselves and continue with the same zeal. We have to look into breeding grounds i.e. universities where media studies are being taught, encourage young blood, guide them, give them a chance and things will be much better in near future. In this way, our media industry will advance on a much faster pace.”

Aashir Azeem (Actor/Director/Writer)

“For any film industry to survive, it is important to have a domestic market [unfortunately] which is not available to us at the moment. I am not in favor of the ban on Indian movies, but I would like to suggest a quota regime, which is happening all over the world. If a distributor distributes 10 foreign movies then three must be Pakistani,” he gave a suggestion that hit home. “There will be negative repercussions initially as these new cinemas were made to cater a specific class which enjoys watching Indian movies. With that not being shown at the moment, cinema owners will find it difficult to survive”

With that thought he was quick to add,

“Our production will become better, not immediately mind you, but eventually. Another thing which I feel is important is that we should strike a balance so the cinema survives. As far as going back to making mediocre movies is concerned, I don’t think that will happen as the new breed of writers and directors are all educated and I am sure the standards they set will be high.”

Ahsan Rahim (Director)

The celebrated ad maker, who himself just announced a feature film, believes that business will suffer because Bollywood has a huge demand in Pakistan due to various factors.

“Indian movies brought people to the cinema so banning them would affect the business. Do keep in mind that whole infrastructure had collapsed and it took English and Indian movies to reconstruct it; plus the dynamics of cinema have also changed with the advent of multiplexes,” Rahim explained. “We share a common language with Bollywood, but that said, Pakistani films can beat Indian movies in Pakistan any day. The only issue is that cinema is like a machine that needs a movie every two weeks and right now we are not meeting that number so the theaters will indeed suffer.”

While speaking on the issue if lack of competition will result in poorly made Pakistani films, Rahim said, “As far as making mediocre movies is concerned, I feel that our improvement isn’t related to Indian cinema, but more visionary writers and directors.”

We agree with you there Ahsan Rahim!

Read: What if Pakistan welcomes another global cinema?

Nadeem Mandviwalla (Producer/Film Distributor)

The owner of Karachi’s Atrium cinema feels that the ban will not just impact business, but will also affect the content of our films.

“Since 2007, Pakistan’s cinema Industry is on a rebuilding spree and while at that time we were 100% dependent on imported films (Indian & American), after nine years of development we have come to a stage whereby we are now 50 to 70% dependent on it,” Mandviwalla revealed the important figures. “So overall we still remain dependent and will have a 50 to 60% impact in monetary terms. Any vibrant industry needs good competition as it becomes the biggest incentive and challenge for improvement. If good films are not being shown in Cinemas whether from India or America then it will effect in the development and new investment in the cinema sector which will eventually limit the growth of film budgets. Thus, can cause a chain effect to mediocrity.”

Vasay Chaudhry (Writer/Actor/Hum Films GM content)

The ace writer who gave us the biggest hit Jaawani Phir Nahi Aani had a very different take on the question.

“One thing which you must see is that the situation is different from what it was in 1965, when the Indian films were first banned . At that time, cinema houses were already there, hence, we could make our own films [and earn] but this time around we have only 90 screens. If there won’t be any cinemas then we won’t even get the chance to make mediocre films! All I can say, is pray that the tradition of filmmaking doesn’t die.”

Read: “Pakistani cinemas need Bollywood films,” says Humayun Saeed

Fakhar-e-Alam (Actor, Ex-Chairman of Sindh Censor Board)

Fakhr-e-Alam took us back to the 70s and 80s and compared the current situation to the era gone by – the era which led to the doom of our cinema industry.

“The ban on the Indian movies will have a major impact on the revenue intake of the exhibitors. Indian movies were banned in the 70s and 80s, but people who wanted to see it could easily watch it on CDs. Because of this, the Indian culture became a part of our culture,” Alam said. “Once Indian movies were allowed, new age cinema screens started to build, people began to invest, and cinemas were constructed. And once you have invested 30 crores [in something] then you want people to come out and buy that ticket so the owners do not face a loss.”

He further made us realise how important Indian cinema is for our growth and sustenance.

“The reality is that, Indian films bring in the revenue that gave people confidence to invest Rs 25-30 crores in a cinema/cineplex. And consequently, because of these screens, producers feel safe to invest Rs 6-7 crores in a movie. If you ask me, it is a matter of commerce and intelligence. If you really want to ban Indian content then ban it completely, we cannot be hypocrites about it.”

Fakhr-e-Alam, who was an integral part of our censor board until a few months ago, shared an interesting anecdote as well.

“Let me share an incident with you. When Dhoom 3 was about to release, the Lahore High Court got a stay order against it, and in those three weeks, various owners of cinemas in Karachi called me to say how they had to shut two out of four screens as they weren’t making money because in a capacity of 200 people only 30-40 people were actually seated!”

What’s the solution? Should we be forever dependent on foreign content?

“But if the ban is going to be permanent then government needs to come up with a local film policy where the industry is recognized. Funds should be set aside for filmmakers. Pakistan needs to make at least 45-50 movies in a year so every weekend we see a new movie and attract a large number of audiences. We are making movies with new filmmakers because of business opportunity as it’s a serious business. We need to make correct policies. It’s all about math and we have to be practical and not emotional about it.”

Beenish Waiz/ Umer Adil ( Producer and Director)

The duo highlighted the short term advantages of the current suspension on Indian films and the long term disadvantages.

“We believe that the producers who are going to be releasing their movies in the next few months are at an advantage as people will come out to see their movie since nothing else will be in the cinema. But in the long run it is not a good idea as it will reduce occupancy,” they said. “A ban does not make a product vanish as those who want to see Indian movies will find a way to watch it, so you see people won’t be effected only cinemas will be.”

“Our industry is in its initial stages and we believe art and culture should not be mixed.Our artists going there and them coming here was a positive growth. We enjoy a good film irrespective of where it is from and healthy competition is good for us. Since we at the moment can not churn out 50-60 movies in a year; the reality is that we are dependent on Bollywood.”

Nina Kashif (General Manager Urdu 1)

“Definitely it [the ban] will have a negative impact on our industry because we do not produce as many films per year. We don’t release a new movie every week. And cinema owners earn much more through Indian films than they do through ours,” Kashif shared. “We can’t afford to ban their movies at this point in time as we will suffer in the long run. As far as lack of competition is concerned, it wont send us back to making mediocre films as now we know what we want, and with every film we will only get better and better”.

Jeerjees Seja( CEO ARY Digital)

ARY Films has churned out one successful film after another (case in point are JPNA, Ho Mann Jahaan, and Janaan) and if a man who’s part of the successful production house says we need Indian films, then we ought to listen.

“We are a industry, who is still in its initial stage, we can not make a new movie every week as filmmaking is time-consuming,” Seja reiterated what others have said. “Competition of any kind is healthy and the most important thing to note is that if we make a good movie then viewers do come out to see it, but for us to be able to release movies every week we need to become a established industry and that can only happen with time.”

Read: Mah-e-Mir selected as Pakistan’s official submission to Oscars 2017

Najaf Bilgrami (Director/Cinematographer)

Bilgrami feels the ban is a temporary move and will only have negative consequences.

“Not allowing Indian movies to be shown in cinemas makes no difference as people will find an alternative to watch those films. They will purchase Dvds or simply download it,” Bilgrami highlighted the harsh reality. “I think this is a temporary thing and if it is not, then definitely cinema owners will suffer, as they won’t have enough releases to utilise their screens and eventually they’ll have to shut down due to lack of audience.”

“I feel competition is healthy and is neccessary for growth. We need to up our game, see where the Indian movies lack, and use that to our advantage. We have amazing writers and talent. We just need to stick together, make unforgettable movies, and progress!”

Read: Najaf Bilgrami – no more the director of Ishq 2020, but still has his plate full!

Yasir Nawaz (Director/Producer)

The director, who’s busy making his upcoming masala film, Mehrunisa V Lub U, called the ban downright ridiculous.

“It makes no sense to ban Indian movies as I am sure cinema houses will again be showing them in a few years if not months, so to me, it seems a bit ridiculous. All of us grew up watching movies from across the border, but that did not make us Indian? It is just entertainment!” said a clarly exasperated filmmaker.

He also pointed out the ‘ugly’ truth.

“The truth is we don’t make enough movies in a year to sustain the industry because we work on limited budgets while Bollywood has huge budgets. I love my country but let’s be logical. I say if you must boycott then ban it once and for all, but the issue is that our industry is still new so cinemas won’t be able to survive and if they don’t survive, how will we show our movies?”

“In due time, I am sure we will be standing on our own feet and make ample of movies to satisfy the needs for our multiplexes and standalone cinemas.”

Mohsin Yaseen (GM Marketing Cinepax Cinemas)

“As Pakistani films are not available in the required quantity, we are dependent on foreign content – Indian as well as English – for the growth of both our cinema and film industry as they go hand in hand. Currently, our cinema industry is in its infancy with only 85 screens available for 200 million plus population, so in our case, all the content from around the world is necessary to blossom our industry and films. It will help better our own content,” Yaseen explained in detail the dynamics of our industry and how they’ll be affected by lack of content.

“Back in 2007, we saw a re-awakening of our film industry with one Pakistani release Khuda Kay liye in a year and now only in past 12 months we have released approximately 10 Pakistani films! Everyone is experimenting with genres and eventually we’ll find our unique identity,” said Yaseen.

He also gave us the good news about how Cinepax plans to encourage all filmmakers to make more films by setting up a fund.

“We as a cinema brand help and encourage all filmmakers to experiment. We have also launched a film fund which will help makers to complete their projects quickly as we need upto 40 to 50 Pakistani films a year in order to sustain. This whole process may take another four to five years, but this will act as a catalyst for the growth of our industry. Pakistan’s film industry is the best too to project Pakistan’s soft image across the globe.”

After conversing with a number of filmmakers, exhibitors, and producers, we can safely conclude that we need Bollywood to survive at the moment because we don’t release enough films. A cinema needs a fresh release every week to survive and we don’t see that happening in the near future. But, things are on the right track and as far as the belief that ‘lack of competition may result in producing mediocre films’ is concerned, it was turned down by everyone.

Read: In Focus: Ranbir Kapoor’s performance fails to save Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

With time, we may be able to sustain on our own films, but right now we need the Bollywood masala because, honestly, how many of you refrained from watching Ae Dil Hai Mushqil or reading its review just because it was an ‘Indian’ films? Every single one of us made an effort to watch it and that alone says a lot about the state of affairs in Pakistan.

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In Focus: Are Indian movies important for our film industry’s survival? was last modified: November 7th, 2016 by greendecker

This article was originally published on http://www.hipinpakistan.com/news/1150968