Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bollywood Eyes Pakistan Market Amid Declining Sales in India

Amid the Hindu Nationalists calls for sending Pakistani actors home, what is being overlooked is the fact that Bollywood needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needs Bollywood.  Why? Let me explain.

Pakistan is Bollywood's second biggest foreign market. Last year, Pakistan's box office receipts jumped by 28% while India's domestic box office collection fell 6.7%.

Decline in Bollywood's revenue at home is forcing the Indian movie industry to look to Pakistan for growth. Part of the Indian strategy is to feature Pakistani actors and artists in its productions to increase Bollywood's appeal to Pakistan's growing moviegoers market.

The money earned by Pakistani actors working in Bollywood is minuscule compared to the business Bollywood films are doing in the rapidly growing Pakistan market.

Pakistani Actors in Bollywood: Fawad Khan,  Mahira Khan, Mawra Hocane

Bollywood ticket sales fell by 6.7% to INR 2,568 crore ($385m) from 2014’s total of  INR 2,754 crore (US$413), according to figures published by India's Business Standard. Alarmed by declining sales, Disney Studios have decided to pull out of India.

After suffering huge losses at the domestic box office, the most recent one being Ashutosh Gowariker's Mohenjo Daro, Disney India - the company formed after Disney acquired controlling stake in UTV - has pulled the plug on all things Bollywood. Instead, Disney will only focus on its Hollywood films distribution, licensing and merchandising business in India, according to India Today.

On the other hand, Pakistani cinema, though small, is growing very rapidly with the explosive growth of multiplex theater screens. Pakistan's "The News Sunday" estimates that box office receipts in the country jumped 28 per cent in 2015 as compared to 2014 and this figure is only expected to grow in coming years. On Eid ul Azha this year, the top 3 highest-grossing films were all produced in Pakistan, according to


Here's how Indian media and entertainment analyst Akar Patel describes Bollywood's business opportunity in Pakistan:

"In Pakistan, there is a big market for Indian movies in their multiplexes. For decades this revenue was lost to Bollywood because the movies were pirated. Under former president Pervez Musharraf, the official screening of movies was allowed, benefiting both nations. Today all Bollywood movies are shown there. Unfortunately, the current state of ties between the two countries has been allowed to deteriorate so much that we should not be surprised if Musharraf's wise decision is reversed."

It is a win-win arrangement with Pakistani artists working with their Indian counterparts in Indian movies and increasing Bollywood revenue from Pakistan market.

If the anti-Pakistan rhetoric and the attacks on Pakistani artists in Mumbai continue, it is very likely that Pakistan will respond by banning the showing of Indian films in a rapidly expanding market market for Bollywood entertainment. In addition to increasing estrangement between the two neighbors, stopping cooperation and collaboration will be a significant blow for the entertainment industries in both India and Pakistan.

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Majumdar said...

Prof sb,

Great write up. Bakkkiland has enormous talent and Bollywood organisation and marketing muscle and Bakkki talent can go a long way. Lets hope Indians and Bakkkis learn to make love and not war.

On a different note, I have some disturbing news. Bakkkiland has finished 149 on global burden of disease, at par with BD and six notches behind India. I hope you will bring it to the notice of highest authorities in Bakkkiland.


Riaz Haq said...

An increase in the number of screens coupled with the success of pioneering efforts in the form of Khuda Ke Liye, Bol, Waar and the more recent Na Maloom Afraad, provided the impetus that local filmmakers needed to start producing films.

The results have been encouraging: Jawani Phir Nahin Aani, produced by ARY Films, broke all previous records (including those set by Indian and English films in Pakistan) with earnings in excess of Rs 300 million at the box office. Bin Roye (by Hum Films) and Wrong Number (by Yasir Nawaz Films) collected Rs 150 million and Rs 130 million respectively. While not all of this year’s films have been big earners, some have more than made up for that by receiving critical acclaim, especially Shah, Manto and Moor. Of course, there were flops, such as the much touted but disappointing Dekh Magar Pyaar Say and the downright ridiculous Hulla Gulla, but what has come through as a result of these endeavours, whether successful or not, is that after decades of shunning local productions, Pakistani audiences are now willing to watch Pakistani films, and perhaps more importantly for producers, that there is money to be made by making local films.

Top grossers: Jawani Phir Nahin Aani broke all previous records with earnings in excess of Rs 300 million at the box office while Bin Roye and Wrong Number collected Rs 150 million and Rs 130 million respectively.
Top grossers: Jawani Phir Nahin Aani broke all previous records with earnings in excess of Rs 300 million at the box office while Bin Roye and Wrong Number collected Rs 150 million and Rs 130 million respectively.
Therefore after a relatively successful year, the value of Pakistani cinema, based on local box office receipts for local films, is between Rs 700 to 800 million. According to Yaseen, the influx of local films has also brought a whole new audience into cinemas, particularly the ultra conservative sections of the population who are not keen on watching Indian and English films.

Pakistani audiences are also being lured in by the diversity of subjects on offer. Granted that many filmmakers are borrowing themes from across the border, but there are also original thinkers like Adnan Sarwar, Sarmad Khoosat and Jami who bring their own vision to the screen.

More to the point, says Jerjees Seja, CEO, ARY Digital and ARY Films, is that unlike TV, where audience preferences are very clear (and ratings determine content), film has no set rules. “You can make any type of film as long as it clicks audiences.”

What ‘clicks’ is a subjective discussion, but filmmakers like Sarwar (producer and lead actor of Shah), are clear that bringing new storylines to the screen will eventually be the bread and butter of local cinema, especially once the novelty factor wears off.

“Pakistani cinema has to create its own niche otherwise it will become harder to compete [with Indian films]. In the long run, we have to be to Bollywood what British cinema is to Hollywood.”


Out of the 83 screens in Pakistan, approximately 50 are in cineplexes and the rest are standalone cinemas. Only two out of the 33 odd standalone cinemas are equipped with the technology to screen films made using digital cameras – the rest still use 35mm reels. This in effect means that new films can only be released on about 52 screens. With three to five films released every week (including Pakistani, Indian and Hollywood titles), many of which have international star power as their greatest advantage, Pakistani films are pushed off the cinema roster quicker than they would like, and as a result do not get the screen time they require to secure their ROI.

Riaz Haq said...

On Friday 15th July 2016 the collections of the (Bollywood) film ( "Sultan" in Pakistan) reached 25.08 crore rupees, surpassing the previous record of 25.05 crore of Dhoom 3 released in 2013. (Source: Till Sunday 17th July 2016, the film has collected 28 crore rupees and is still pulling crowds to the cinemas. Seeing all this it is favorable to say that it will be the first Indian Bollywood film to cross the landmark of 30 crore rupees before the upcoming weekend (Source:

The top all time opening weekends in Pakistan are as follows with the distributor names in (parenthesis), Sultan leads all the films by huge margins. Out of the five top films three are Indian Bollywood films released within a time frame of six months depicting the constantly improving business of the Indian Bollywood films in Pakistan (Source:

Sultan (Geo Films).. 11.2cr in July 2016
Jawani Phir Nahi Ani (ARY Films).. 7.83cr in September 2015
Furious 7 (Foor Print).. 7.48cr in April 2015
FAN (Geo Films).. 6.5cr in April 2016
Dilwale (Eveready).. 6.42cr in December 2015

The top all time single day earning for a film in Pakistan where a film has earned equal to or more than 2 crores. Sultan is again leading here by capturing the top five slots. It made the record of highest collection in a single day on first day of its release and improved it further on day two, three and four. (Source:

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan actors already home before MNS' threat to leave India

All Pakistani actors including Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan left India, for personal reasons, even before Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) threatened to push them out in the wake of the Uri terror attack.

Read more at:

Riaz Haq said...

Bollywood, Hollywood matter

“I don’t want to sound pessimistic but the truth is there has only been a boom in the cinema industry in Pakistan in the last few years because of the release of latest Bollywood and Hollywood films,” says Nadeem Mandviwalla, a known exhibitor, distributor and owner of the Atrium chain of cineplexes.

“I just hope the ties don’t remain tense on long term basis. If there is a temporary ban, we can survive but if there is any permanent ban, you can expect a lot of cinema houses and multiplexes to close down,” he says.

Omair Alavi, a popular film critic, says that due to the increase in cinema screens and revenues, there has also been a resurgence of the Pakistani film industry.

Needed: 50 to 60 films a year

“We have seen a number of Pakistani films release and do well and others are also lined up for release. But for a cinema industry to survive you need to produce at least 50 to 60 films in a year which we are not doing at present,” he says.

Mr. Mandviwalla says 70 per cent of the business comes from Bollywood and Hollywood. “There is no alternative. If the ties worsen, it is going to affect everyone,” he says. He, however, says that previously when Indian films were banned in Pakistan, business flourished underground with the sale of pirated DVDs and other such materials.

“Now you have cable operators as well but I think if there is any ban it will also affect their programming,” he says.

‘Hope there will not be a ban’

Saleem Khan, who has been in the business for years, thinks there will not be a ban but if this happenes cinema owners might have to completely wrap up their business or shut a few screens to cut costs.

“We don’t produce enough films to sustain ourselves throughout the year. We need to produce at least over 50 films annually,” he says.

Former Sindh Board of Film Censors chairman Fakhr-e-Alam says any such ban will result in “going back to the days where our screens were shut down and converted into shopping malls or apartments because there weren’t enough movies.”

He feels there is only one hope for industry people in case of a ban on Bollywood films and that is the Pakistan government must provide funds for production of films.

Option: screen old Pak. films?

Cinepax Cinemas Assistant Marketing Manager Abid Ali Zaidi says if there is a “temporary” ban, the cinema chains will manage for a while by screening old Pakistani films.

“We are already planning to do that from October as an alternative,” Mr. Zaidi said.

Since Indian films were allowed to be imported and screened the cinema industry business has picked up rapidly in Pakistan with some Bollywood blockbusters even grossing the 100-crore rupees mark in Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

MUMBAI: Bans imposed on each other by the film industries in India and Pakistan threaten to endanger a burgeoning cross-border business that's worth more than Rs 100 crore even by conservative estimates.
Try this for size: about 50 Bollywood films release in Pakistan now every year and on an average, each makes at least Rs 1.5 to 2 crore. The biggest grossers in Pakistan in the last three years include the Aamir Khan thriller Dhoom 3, which earned Rs 16 crore, Raju Hirani's PK which spoke out against organized religion, Bajrangi Bhaijaan which dealt with an Indian youth's journey into Pakistan to reunite a child with her parents, and Sultan which muscled its way past all the others at the box-office (Rs 22 crore).
The ban on screening Indian films in Pakistan was formalised at a meeting of exhibitors and distributors in Karachi on Thursday and was in reaction to a resolution by a film producers' body in India against use of Pakistani artistes in Indian films. Analysts say the ban in Pakistan will hurt the country's domestic market as well, which is showing signs of recovery after decades of Islamisation and strict censorship.
A four-decade embargo on Indian films (imposed after the 1965 war) was lifted in 2007. "For either to take such a decision now means they've put commercials on the backburner after building bridges," says Avtar Panesar, vice president-international operations at Yash Raj Films in London. "From an overseas theatrical revenue perspective, Pakistan wasn't even in single digits 10 years ago and now it's gone up to 12 percent. In fact, for big Bollywood releases, it's often the number three highest-grossing territory after US and UAE. They're a substantial market for us and only becoming bigger. In fact, Pakistan has climbed the ranks so rapidly that once their market is more mature, it should theoretically become the largest international market for Indian films," he says.
Pakistan's love for Hindi films continued through the years when Lollywood (derived from Lahore, its city of origin) went into decline, total number of movie halls fell to about 30 and the industry produced not more than two releases in a year. The Pakistani viewership depended on piracy to sustain its interest in Hindi films.
"For us, it was about bringing legitimacy to Hindi films being watched in Pakistan via pirated circles," recalls Mukesh Bhatt who along with his brother Mahesh were part of a bilateral team of filmmakers and exhibitors who initiated a dialogue to allow Indian movies into Pakistan once more.
It was during Pervez Musharraf's regime that the iron curtain finally lifted. Audiences returned to the theatres, new investors stepped in and deteriorating Pakistani creative content too saw a revival. State-of-the-art multiplexes are currently the toast of every town.
Today, the Pakistani film industry boasts a $30 million box office and 116 screens. Six to ten Pakistani films have been releasing every year with the biggest grosser not less than $4 million.

Riaz Haq said...

A dark cloud has hung over Delhi these past few weeks, and it isn’t just the pollution. Ever since a September attack by militants in Kashmir killed 19 Indian soldiers, war has been in the air. And, as with the pollution, no part of life here is unaffected. A 65-year-old water-sharing pact between India and Pakistan is apparently being reconsidered. The famous Wagah checkpoint – where audiences watch Indian and Pakistani border guards trade high kicks and handshakes – was briefly shut to the public, reportedly after Pakistani revellers pelted the Indian side with stones.

And last week, after India announced its troops had launched “surgical strikes” in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association said it, too, was on a war footing. The legion of Pakistani actors and technicians in Bollywood, and other Indian cinema hubs, would be banned from working “until normalcy returns”, it said. The organisation’s president, TP Aggarwal, went even further, saying Pakistanis would be banned from the industry “for ever”, and asking the Indian government to boot them from the country.


Divya Spandana (also known as Ramya), another Indian actor turned politician, was threatened with a civil sedition charge after visiting Pakistan in August. Her crime? Saying India’s rival was “a good country, not hell”. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s cinema lobby has called the restriction on its nationals “deeply regrettable”, and announced its own embargo, pulling all Indian films from Pakistani screens. Indian cinema was already banned in Pakistan for 43 years, after the second Kashmir war between the countries, and only permitted again in 1998. On Thursday, Indian sitcoms and soap operas – already restricted on Pakistani television to 86 minutes a day – were also completely banned by the country’s media regulator.

Riaz Haq said...

Your love for #Bollywood could cost you your computer. Watch out for spyware, malware #India #Pakistan via @qzindia

A new study by Intel Security, owner of the McAfee virus protection products, has ranked the riskiest Bollywood celebrity searches. Actress Sonakshi Sinha tops the list.
This means whenever someone looks for anything on Sinha, they are at the highest risk. For instance, a search term like “Sonakshi Sinha + Torrent”, would mean a “21% chance of connecting to a malicious website,” the study says.

Hackers are evidently taking advantage of India’s unending love for Bollywood, with movie aficionados spending hours online looking for news on awards, movie premiers or even celebrity breakups. Fans are often enticed to click on sites loaded with malware that could hide in your computer and steal sensitive personal information.
“Cinema and celebrity culture continue to be synonymous with Indian consumers,” Venkat Krishnapur, head of R&D operations for Intel Security’s India Development Centre, said in a statement. “Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting consumers who access information-on-the-go, without considering the potential security risks online around celebrity interest.”