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 EasyTickets.pk.
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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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.
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.
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: http://boxofficedetail.com/view_post.php?value=6976). 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: http://boxofficedetail.com/view_post.php?value=6978).
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: http://boxofficedetail.com/view_post.php?value=6937)
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: http://boxofficedetail.com/view_post.php?value=6955)
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:
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.
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.
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.
Your love for #Bollywood could cost you your computer. Watch out for spyware, malware #India #Pakistan http://qz.com/807660 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.”
Battleground Bollywood: India-Pakistan Tensions Hitting Film Industry
Undoubtedly, Bollywood has long been a way to thaw the frosty relations between the two countries. And it is also a huge business. Indian films make more than $10 million in annual receipts in Pakistan — the country is the No. 3 foreign market for Indian movies after the U.S. and the UAE. And for many Pakistani theaters, Bollywood movies account for more than half their revenues. According to the All Pakistan Film Exhibitors Association, Bollywood brings in around 60% of cinema revenue in Pakistan. In November, an editorial in the Dawn had said that “in terms of being crowd-pullers on a large scale, nothing beats the content being generated by the mammoth industry next door.”
A medium-budget Bollywood film is able to earn $800,000 in Pakistan, while big-ticket movies, starring Salman Khan or Shah Rukh Khan generate more. In 2014, Aamir Khan’s PK grossed over $3.3 million at the Pakistani box-office, beating the country’s first big-budget movie Waar, that depicted every volatile aspect of Pakistan's rocky relationship with India. In 2013, Dhoom 3 grabbed $ 3.7 million and Salman Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan got $2.2 million.
As 2016 ends, Bollywood at the edge of a cliff
By Shilpa Jamkhandikar
This was the year Bollywood slowed down and, in some cases, slammed the brakes.
For the third straight year, the Indian film industry did not grow. As some studios shut up shop, Hollywood films such as “The Jungle Book” trumped most Hindi films at the box office. Big-ticket movies didn’t strike a chord with audiences and the industry finds itself scrambling for a long-term solution.
Apart from Salman Khan’s wrestling drama “Sultan”, the year’s top grosser with more than 3 billion rupees ($44 million) in revenue, most Bollywood films couldn’t woo audiences or recover their money.
The Bollywood industry made around 23 billion rupees ($338 million) in domestic box-office revenue in 2016, a significant drop from the 27 billion rupees ($397 million) in 2015, according to Shailesh Kapoor, who runs media consulting firm Ormax Media. The 2016 figures are till Dec. 22 and do not include box-office returns for Aamir Khan’s “Dangal”, which released last Friday.
Bollywood is hugely dependent on its male stars to deliver blockbusters, specifically the trio of Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan, who have delivered some of the industry’s biggest hits. But this year, even Shah Rukh Khan’s “Fan”, a thriller about a man obsessed with a movie star floundered at the box office.
“There are two kinds of films that work at the box office, the big star vehicles like ‘Sultan’ and the niche content films like ‘Piku’ last year. There weren’t too many of either this year. ‘Fan’ not making it past the 100 crore ($14 million) mark was a huge setback,” Kapoor said.
More than 200 Hindi films opened in cinemas this year. Of these, some 60-odd films got a proper release and had a marketing budget. Only 12-14 films made a profit, Kapoor said.
What must strike fear in Bollywood’s heart though is that the number two position in terms of box-office revenue was taken by a Hollywood film. “The Jungle Book”, Disney’s live-action film based on Rudyard Kipling’s book made around 1.8 billion rupees ($26 million) in India, surpassing every other Hindi film except “Sultan”. Marathi film “Sairat” (Wild) also enamoured audiences, crossing the 100 crore rupee ($14 million) mark, more than what most Bollywood films managed.
As companies such as Netflix and Amazon try harder to draw Indians away from TV and theatre screens, offering the same content at half the cost, Bollywood will have to use every trick in the book to make sure it retains its audiences in the coming year.
Bollywood revenue has declined from $413 million in 2014 to $385 million in 2015 to $338 million in 2016
Down 6.7% from 2014 to 2015, Down 12% from 2015 to 216
Global box office barely grew in 2016. Blame it on China
lobal movie box office revenue growth slowed last year as international receipts declined for the first time in 12 years, reflecting a cooling in China’s once-red-hot film market, according to a new report.
The total worldwide box office rose 1% to a record $38.6 billion in ticket sales last year, according to a report from the Motion Picture Assn. of America, the lobbying group that represents the six largest film studios. In 2015, global revenues jumped 5%.
The leveling off at the box office underscored sluggish movie ticket sales in countries outside the United States and Canada. Foreign box office totaled $27.2 billion in 2016, down from $27.3 billion in 2015, thanks to a dramatic slowdown in box office growth in China. The increased value of the U.S. dollar compared with other currencies also dampened ticket revenues, the association said in a report released Wednesday.
"The Chinese market is a little concerning,” said Jeff Bock, a box office analyst for Exhibitor Relations. “They thought it was going to be some magical potion, and it's not."
Though the drop in foreign ticket sales was less than 1%, it’s the first time the international box office has failed to grow since 2005. That’s a worrisome trend for an industry that has grown increasingly dependent on the global marketplace. International markets made up 71% of the global box office in 2016, compared with 63% a decade ago.
The slowdown in China was particularly jarring for the industry, coming after years of speculation that the country would soon surpass the United States and Canada as the world’s largest film market.
Revenues from China fell 1% to $6.6 billion in 2016, in U.S. dollars, a surprising downturn from 2015, when ticket sales grew by 49%. A variety of factors hurt the box office in China, including a series of sub-par movies, a lack of discounts by China’s online ticket sellers, and greater government scrutiny of bogus box office statistics.
Foreign currency declines in countries such as Mexico, Argentina and Britain also depressed revenues in U.S. dollar terms. The British pound, for example, fell 12% against the dollar last year.
“A major issue is currency,” said Julia Jenks, vice president of worldwide research for the MPAA. “It’s hiding a lot of growth,”
The statistics were brighter for the domestic market.
Box office receipts hit a record $11.4 billion in the United States and Canada, up 2% from 2015, thanks to blockbusters such as “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “The Secret Life of Pets,” and “Captain America: Civil War.”
Nonetheless, the industry is facing some troubling head winds, including long-term stagnation in the number of tickets sold. Admissions totaled 1.32 billion last year, flat compared with 2015, and down from 1.4 billion a decade ago. The slide in attendance underscores the rising competition cinemas face to lure younger audiences who have more entertainment options in the home. Per capita attendance in the United States and Canada slipped 1% to 3.8 last year.
Despite the flattening attendance, revenue still grew because of an increase in ticket prices. The average ticket price hit a record $8.65 in 2016, according to the National Assn. of Theatre Owners, the result of cinema chains adding more advanced screening technology and more luxurious accommodations such as recliner seating.
“The question is, what's going to drive the North American box office to the heights we saw 10 to 20 years ago in terms of attendance?" Bock said.
Some young people went to the theaters more often last year. People ages 18 to 24 bought an average of 6.5 movie tickets in 2016, up 10% from 2015. Yet, the movie business took a hit among 12-to-17-year-olds, who went to the movies 16% less frequently than in 2015.
70 years of Pakistan’s film industry
A look at the good old days of the Pakistani film industry, which gave us immortal tunes, self made stars, and award-winning directors
The film industry in Pakistan is as old as the country itself. It has seen the best of its days, but sadly, the present situation is nowhere near to what it had been.
The good old days had given Immortal tunes, excellent films, self made stars and award-winning directors, but mostly depended on individuals.
The initial decade (1948-1957):
Despite lack of equipment and resources, country’s first film, Teri Yaad, was released in August 1948. Nasir Khan, brother of the famous actor Dilip Kumar, was the hero, with Asha Posley playing his love interest. Pakistan’s first Golden Jubilee film, Sibtain Fazli’s Dupatta, was released in 1952. The film was also appreciated in India at release. It had Noor Jehan as lead, while the music was composed by Feroz Nizami, who had earlier composed for Noor Jehan-Dilip Kumar starrer Jugnu in undivided India five years back. Like Nizami sahab, musicians Ghulam Haider, Rasheed Atre, GA Chishti and Khwaja Khurshid Anwar, opted to Pakistan and played an important role in establishing the industry.
Many stalwarts from India, namely Munshi Dil, Shaukat Hussain Rizvi, Fazli brothers, also migrated, and by the end of the 50s, Pakistan had its set of directors. A young Allauddin, who played the role of Nargis’s father in Mela (1948), remained active for over 30 years, performing memorable roles in his career. The struggling days of the industry would have been different, if there had been no Santosh Kumar or Sabiha Khanum. The ‘first couple’ of the industry eventually tied the knot after giving hits like Do Aansoo (1950), Ghulam (1953) Qatil, Inteqaam (1955), and Sarfarosh (1956). Actor Sudhir was labeled an action hero with hits like Baaghi (1956) and Akhri Nishan (1958), while Syed Kemal, a replica of Indian superstar Raj Kapoor, came on the scene with Thandi Sarak (1957). He could dance as well as made you laugh. Phenomenal Rise of Aslam Pervez, first as a hero and later as a villain, was termed legendary in any phase of life.
The peak years (1958-1967):
It is credited as the golden period of the industry. With limited ban on Indian films, local productions thronged. Field Marshall Ayub Khan’s rule had restrictions on nearly everything, but it was the creative team of director Khalil Qaiser- music composer Rasheed Attre- writer Riaz Shahid who accepted the challenge and gave out exceptional films like Shaheed (1962), Firangi (1964) and Hukumat (1967) until Qaiser’s death in mysterious circumstances.
#India's #Bollywood has copied a shocking number of #songs from #Pakistan. See proof
A new golden age
The fall and rise of Pakistani film
Islamisation put paid to the first great era of cinema in Pakistan. But new directors with edgy social content are leading a revival
But a new generation of directors and producers is now leading Lollywood’s recovery. The nickname has endured, but little else remains the same. Production has moved from Lahore to the coastal city of Karachi. The ban on Indian films was lifted, and it is these and Western offerings that keep Pakistan’s cinemas open today. But Pakistani films are, slowly, returning to the screen.
Shoaib Mansoor is the director credited with reversing the film industry’s fortunes, but his reputation is partly built on savvy marketing. In 2007 his film “Khuda Kay Liye” (“The Name of God”) was advertised as marking the official revival of Pakistani cinema. The move was a public relations masterstroke that took advantage of softening government control and tapped into a public hunger for local films.
“Khuda Kay Liye” follows the lives two young Pakistani men in the aftermath of 9/11. The film is darker than classic films, and the plot is sometimes convoluted. Yet Mr Mansoor found an audience eager for a modern Pakistani Urdu production and the film played to packed cinemas. Pakistani audiences had been promised a revival, and by showing up to cinemas across the country, they made it happen.
Mr Mansoor followed up with “Bol” (“Speak”) and 2017’s “Verna”. Both focus on gender issues, and the latter triggered a national debate. The plot of “Verna” follows a sexual assault survivor, a subject that caused enormous political controversy after Pakistan’s censor board took issue with what it called “edgy content”, and considered banning the film. The ensuing debate touched a public nerve, as it coincided with widespread protests held over the rape and murder of Zainab Ansari, a seven-year-old girl. When it was eventually screened, the film’s skewering of misogyny was applauded. Mr Mansoor typically focuses on content over style, choosing to pack his films with social criticism, sometimes to a fault. Both “Verna” and “Bol” were criticised for erratic pacing and weak cinematography.
But Mr Mansoor’s example has been followed and improved on by other directors. “Cake” (see picture), directed by Asim Abbasi, was released at the end of March. It’s a far cry from 1960s films, known for their melodrama and impressive song and dance numbers, yet is all the better for this. The plot revolves around the lives of two sisters caring for their ailing parents. One has remained in Pakistan and the other has just returned from Britain, a common scenario in Pakistan’s wealthier neighbourhoods (accordingly, critics have praised it for its realism). Mr Abbasi focuses on the conflicted relationship between the two women as they gather to celebrate their parents’ wedding anniversary, and neither muffles their anger nor exaggerates their rivalry. Refreshingly, their romantic ties remain secondary. “Cake” became the first Pakistani film to premiere at London’s Leicester Square.
Much work remains to be done. Pakistan’s Central Board of Film Censors continues to wield enormous power over which films are seen. And although the rising numbers of subversive films are encouraging, the social consequences of their release fall disproportionately on the women involved. The lead role in “Verna” was played by Mahira Khan, who has long been a target for sexist trolls online. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, an Oscar-winning documentary maker, has faced similar problems for her work on honour killings and acid attacks.
But despite the obstacles, a resurgence is finally underway in Lollywood. Fresh-faced directors such as Mr Abbasi have access to high production budgets, talented casts and scripts that avoid clichés. The new wave of Pakistani cinema may well eclipse its golden age.
Despite numerous efforts to introduce movies from other cultures, including dubbed versions of Turkish films, Bollywood remains the primary choice for moviegoers in Pakistan. The loss of Indian movies stung so hard because Pakistan was not yet able to produce and distribute enough movies to fill theaters every week. Though the number of screens in Pakistan increased from 30 in 2013 to almost 100 in 2017, producers and investors were being cautious. And most filmmakers realized that reaching larger audiences wasn’t possible.
A few months later, Pakistani theater owners ended their self-imposed ban and Indian films returned to Pakistani screens in 2017. But investors started questioning whether the movie business was feasible if it suffered after every crisis between the two countries.
The first ban on the exhibition of Indian films was imposed by military ruler President Mohammad Khan Ayub after the second India-Pakistan war in 1965. The woes of the local cinema industry were further exacerbated during the era of Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq’s presidency, when higher taxation and strict censorship policies made it impossible for cinema to grow.
During those decades, as cinema was gradually fading away, Pakistan’s television soap operas boomed and provided entertainment for the middle classes. Most actors, directors and screenwriters focused on producing them. Film lovers had the limited choice of either watching second-rate vanity projects or pirated versions of Hollywood and Bollywood movies. The decimation of Pakistani cinema — particularly under the rule of General Zia — meant that the country lost most of its 700 single-screen cinemas.
Pakistani cinema began to emerge from its long coma in 2006 when Gen. Pervez Musharraf removed the ban on showing Indian movies that had been in place since 1965. Within a few years new multiplexes sprung up in all major cities to meet the high demand for films.
By 2011 Pakistan had around 35 multiplex screens; more than a hundred more were being built. Sadly this new infrastructure was restricted to multiplexes as distributors focused almost entirely on attracting the middle classes who could afford higher ticket prices. Single-screen cinemas, along with their less-privileged audiences, were completely ignored and excluded.
The availability of screen space in turn encouraged local filmmakers to venture out and produce films. A turning point came with the success of Shoaib Mansoor’s Bol, the story of a religious family with a transgender daughter, which was produced in 2011 with a local cast and crew. It inspired more Pakistani filmmakers to jump into the fray.
Two years later, Pakistan had produced 20 films and many more were being planned. International festivals started showing interest by curating special segments on Pakistani films. The filmmaking fraternity was upbeat that Pakistan would soon be able to tell its own story through movies.
The removal of the ban on Indian films in Pakistan also led to talent sharing and creative cooperation between the two countries. Pakistani actors became stars in India; almost every major Indian movie commissioned Pakistani musicians to sing for them (songs are a key element of films in South Asia).
And then fate delivered another lethal blow: India and Pakistan almost went to war in February after a suicide attack on Indian forces in Kashmir. An official ban was imposed on exhibiting Indians films in Pakistan. Three and a half months later, theaters in Pakistan are almost empty again and their owners are now considering laying off employees.
The arrival of online streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon is helping film industries in various other countries grow and attempt new storytelling formats — but they have hesitated from exploring Pakistan and commissioning projects from Pakistani filmmakers.
The streaming site has had success with three original productions: anthology film Lust Stories, horror miniseries Ghoul and most assertively advertised, Saif Ali Khan series Sacred Games. While none of them have managed to blow up internationally, all three have proved to be extremely promising. Sacred Games continues to be a hit with Indian viewers and Lust Stories has been seen in India more times than House of Cards in the US.
So what does this imply for our own entertainment industry? Quite a lot, if the stars align for us. In recent years, Pakistani dramas have taken off in a way that no one could have foreseen. With TV dramas like Humsafar and Zindagi Gulzar Hai becoming mega hits in Pakistan, India and the Middle East, and other shows doing well locally and on YouTube, the question isn’t whether Pakistani dramas can do well internationally but rather when we will get the opportunity to showcase our talents.
Another Pakistani hit, Daastan, a love story, featuring Fawad Khan and Sanam Baloch, stuck in the chaos of Indo-Pak partition, broke many hearts in the entire sub-continent. One does not have to look past the millions of views our shows enjoy on YouTube to ascertain that. Most recently, Khaani became the biggest Pakistani show, with its YouTube views exceeding 150 million.
The resurgence of interest in our local films should also prompt Netflix to invest into Pakistani entertainment portfolio, especially considering that unlike most of the world, our movie stars are essentially our TV stars, so there won’t be any sort of snobbery associated from them about working on TV shows. Netflix shows are marketed internationally and can provide a global platform for our stars.
Not to mention, studios here will have the option of selling their content to Netflix instead of Pakistani TV channels and movie distributors, bringing international revenue into the country. To Netflix’s credit, it isn’t like that they haven’t noticed all this untapped potential. The entertainment titan has attached Pakistani actor Zahid Ahmed to star in the first Pakistani original drama and hired actress Sana Fakhar to be part of another Netflix original.
Read more: Netflix criticized for banning anti-Saudi Arabia content
But as Ahmed recently stated to The News, the reason for the slow progress of the Pakistani Netflix show is the minimal subscription numbers in our country. According to the PTA, only 30% of all Pakistanis have access to broadband Internet. To foster growth, the company has signed a deal with PTCL and most recently, allowed Pakistani users to pay in Rupees, but these small steps and at Rs1500 per month, ultimately won’t do much to attract new customers.
Netflix in India is also facing similar problems where it only has mere 5 million subscribers and its two main competitors in the region Amazon (with $11 million subscribers value) and 20th Century Fox’s Hotstar ($150 million subscribers value) are faring much better. But Netflix plans to spend more than $8 billion on content in India alone, which ¬is likely to bring glad tidings across the border too. With Netflix slashing its prices to meet demands in different regions (like in India), the subscription in Pakistan could potentially grow.
Furthermore, the addition of Jazz’s Starz Play to Pakistan’s streaming service list of Iflix, Netflix and Amazon Prime, only encourages more competition, an environment where streaming emerges as the norm. Most likely, this will happen when TV Channels begin investing in exclusive streaming content, something that we haven’t heard of yet.
So it may be some time before we see Netflix produced Pakistani content but as the audience for Pakistani series continues to grow — in part due to the catalog of Pakistani Dramas available on Netflix —so will Netflix’s desire to produce Pakistani content.
Pakistani films and dramas reaching global audience through Netflix
* The Pakistani film industry that once was deemed to be dead has started its revival in recent years which caught the attention of international audience
Several Pakistani films and television series are being streamed on Netflix, helping Pakistani cultural boundaries to expand their horizon to global audiences.
Renowned for their gripping storylines, strong characters and impressive performances over the years, Pakistani drama contents were being broadcast across Pakistani channels, but were not legally streamed which was now fixed through Netflix.
The Pakistani film industry that once was deemed to be dead has started its revival in recent years which caught the attention of international audience as many Pakistani films were also successful in grabbing space on Netflix.
To now be placed on the world’s biggest streaming website with English subtitles magnifies Pakistani contents’ reach for global appeal. It also appears as a visual feast for oversees Pakistanis who were often deprived of seeing their national content on TV screens.
California-based streaming pioneer Netflix launched the super hit Pakistani drama serials on its application for streaming. The television and streaming app giant was launched in Pakistan in January this year.
To now be placed on the world’s biggest streaming website with English subtitles magnifies Pakistani contents’ reach for global appeal. It also appears as a visual feast for oversees Pakistanis who were often deprived of seeing their national content on TV screens
Some famous Pakistani shows were being exhibited on Netflix include Rangreza, Ho Man Jahan, Balu Mahi, Janaan, Waar, wrong No and others while drama included Hamsafar, Zindagi Gulzar hai and Sadqay Tumharay that had already been telecast on different TV channels.
Netflix users can see these Pakistani drama serials on its application and it seems like Fawad Khan’s drama serials was dominating the entire list; Humsafar, Zindagi Gulzar Hai and Dastaan.
“Pakistani entertainment industry has improved a lot in terms of creative productions as films like Bol and Waar intrigues the social conscious in form of entertainment”, said Jawad sharif an independent Film Maker.
Jawad, the producer of award winning documentary Indus Blue, said that Pakistani dramas were always remained attractive for not only local but regional audiences as well. “Having our local content on international platform not only boosts our confidence but also creates a soft image of Pakistan as an art loving nation”, he added.
Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) partnered with Netflix, the world’s giant provider of on-demand Internet streaming media, to enable PTCL consumers for having access to entertainment shows from across the globe along with local content.
According to an official from PTCL Shazia Khaliq, many customers had been enjoying the streaming of their favourite local contents on Netflix through PTCL’s broadband service that offered uninterrupted high speed internet connectivity.
She said PTCL offered this facility to help our creative industry in its international recognition for Pakistan digital industry.
Netflix is an American entertainment company founded in August 29, 1997 and its headquarters are in Los Gatos, California. It has now over 70 million subscribers, which pay a monthly fee for unlimited services.
BBC News - #Bollywood and #Lollywood come together in #Scottish film. "The idea is to bring the two communities together from #India and #Pakistan. They can't work together in their own countries so we have to bring them over here." #SouthAsia #movie https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-51024254
A new film shot entirely in Scotland has brought in talent from Pakistan and India to showcase the best of Bollywood and Lollywood movies, according to its director Zulfikar Sheikh.
He said he had produced 17 serial dramas for Pakistani TV, all set in Scotland, and had always wanted to make a film.
"The idea is to bring the two communities together from India and Pakistan," he says. "They can't work together in their own countries so we have to bring them over here."
The film, Sacch, opens at selected UK cinemas, including Glasgow's Silverburn Cineworld, from Friday.
The film is scripted by Bollywood screenwriter Kumud Chaudhry and has dialogue by Pakistani playwright Haseena Moin.
Moin's only credit on a Bollywood film was Raj Kapoor's Henna, which was released in 1991.
The film was a box office success and was chosen as India's entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars but Moin removed her name over tensions between Muslims and Hindus after a mosque bombing.
What are Bollywood and Lollywood?
Bollywood is the nickname given to much of the Indian film industry.
The B comes from Bombay (now known as Mumbai), the base for the Indian Hindi-language film industry.
Bollywood makes up to 800 films a year - twice as many as Hollywood.
The most well-known type of Bollywood film is "masala" which combines songs, dances, love triangles, comedy and dare-devil thrills.
The scripts are usually written in an unadorned Hindi-Urdu, known as Hindustani, which would be understood by the largest possible audience.
Much of the Pakistani film industry has traditionally been based in the city of Lahore and is now often referred to as Lollywood.
First Pakistani film
The new film is produced by the director's wife, Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh, the former SNP MP for Ochil and South Perthshire.
She says: "As far as we know this is the first Pakistani movie shot in Scotland."
Ms Sheikh is the daughter of an academic and an actress who toured with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
She grew up in Edinburgh and studied law at Strathclyde University in Glasgow.
She says that soon after her marriage in 1993 she appeared in Des Pardes, a drama portraying Scottish-Asian life, directed by her husband.
After that she returned to the law, working as a solicitor and later as a politician.
Most recently, she had been a producer and presenter on The Alex Salmond Show on RT.
She has now returned to working with Zulfikar, producing a "feelgood" movie in the best traditions of both Indian and Pakistani films.
"We wanted to produce something that young Scottish Asians could watch as well as an elder generation and indigenous Scots," she says.
Meet Pakistani cinema's stars of tomorrow
From Eman Suleman to Rehmat Ajmal and Parisheh James, here are some up and coming names
Last year, there were some definitive trends set for the entertainment industry in Pakistan. Where there was a surge in production, an influx of talent was witnessed. As the first quarter of the year comes to a close in a few weeks, Gulf News tabloid takes the occasion to look at some of the most dynamic new entrants in the fields of acting and modelling. They are young, educated and self-assured individuals who are game for challenges and have no care for stereotypes, just as the millennials are expected to be. No wonder they are the industry’s best bets for the new decade. In no particular order…
Eman Suleman, model & actor: Model turned actor Eman Suleman exudes an old-world charm and at the same time has the disposition of a progressive, 21st century feminist. Perhaps, that’s what attracted acclaimed Indo-Canadian filmmaker Mira Nair to her when she was casting for BBC 1’s period play, ‘A Suitable Boy’, based on Vikram Seth’s novel of the same name. Suleman had to opt out because the project required her to shoot in Agra, India. At her much-talked-about wedding recently, she made the most unconventional — albeit gorgeous — Pakistani bride, for she refused to be a passive participant in the proceedings, as is the common practice.
Ali Kureshi, model & actor: Ali Kureshi’s defined jawline and lean, muscular physique have top menswear brands in Pakistan beating a path to his door — at Hum Bridal Couture Week ‘19, he walked the ramp for 10 different couturiers. At 6’ 2’, Kureshi stands taller than most male models in the industry. Though, he wouldn’t claim credit for anything except his body transformation, having slogged his way up from being a chubbier version of himself in his mid-twenties, to a fitness and Yoga fanatic (he even calls himself a “Yogi”). Kureshi recently gave a shot at acting in writer-director Sarmad Khoosat’s hotly-anticipated feature,
Amar Khan, actor & screenwriter: It takes a young, pretty woman real guts to play the witch in her debut TV show. But Amar Khan is a bit of an anomaly. A film graduate from BNU, Lahore, Khan took up the eponymous ‘Belapur Ki Dayan’ (2018) most fearlessly, following it up with the period drama ‘Ghughi’, where she played a Hindu girl, and Dil-e-Gumshuda, as the antagonist. Her brilliant repertoire of work may be attributed to her training in theatre which had also led her to India where she attended masterclasses with film greats such as Shyam Benegal and Naseeruddin Shah. Her mother, Fareeha Jabeen, a noted TV actress, has been an influence too. This year, Khan will be seen in a movie, ‘Dum Mastam’, which is also scripted by her. Though, she studied to be a filmmaker, direction isn’t on the cards for now — “not in the next five or six years,” she says.
Momin Saqib, actor, activist & Instagram blogger: UK-based Momin Saqib, 26, admits to having “multiple personalities.” His much-loved “online family” (as he fondly addresses them in his Snapchat/Instagram stories) of nearly 200,000 followers looks up to him as their friend, philosopher and guide; while for some he’s a high-energy entertainer whose videos luckily broke the internet (remember the one where he’s ranting about Pakistani cricketers overindulging themselves ahead of a World Cup match that affected their performance?). The party circles of London see him as more of a socialite, while those who’ve attended his TED talks, perceive him as a motivational speaker. And if that’s not enough, people in the media are already rooting for his ability to act.
Mushk Kaleem, model: Smart and elegant, Mushk Kaleem is redefining standards of beauty in an industry obsessed with fair skin. Over the past two years since she began to model, she’s already been adjudged the Best Emerging Model at the LUX Style Awards and Rising Star at the Hum Style Awards. Make-up artists,..
From #Bollywood to Modiwood? Bollywood has been a representation of #India & its vibrant #secular identity. Films like Mission #Kashmir, Haider and Dil Se have questioned India's political system. But is this legacy changing in #Modi's India? https://youtu.be/F-X7C5WAgJc via @YouTube
13 years after 26/11, #India's #Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan wants better ties with #Pakistan: "No single act of terror must be given the power to destroy the interconnectedness of our stories, our plural solidarities" #Pakistan #Hindutva #Islamophobia https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/13-years-26-11-attacks-promise-we-must-renew-amitabh-bachchan-7641716/
Mumbai had been attacked before, but not like this. This was a choreographed sequence of strikes, using hand-held weapons, by 10 terrorists who had come in by the sea. This time, Ground Zero was not a place, it was an arc. It was horror made for the age of the instantaneous spectacle, it foreshadowed the era where we define ourselves by our constant posts of image, text and video.
Thirteen years later, the question is, how do we pay the real tribute to the 166 people who died in the 26/11 attacks, in Mumbai, the one they truly deserve? How do we move out of the shadows of that paralysing moment? Are we, who survived in Mumbai and in India, free to tell new stories?
The reality is that 26/11 has had a long afterlife, and it has got entangled with the tumultuous history that still weighs down the Subcontinent. It is not yet clear that we have skirted all the traps it set for us. The danger was, and it still is, of letting ourselves be defined and deformed by fear, of making suspicion a habit, a guiding force for our institutions, and part of our political common sense.
For the last many years, I have been privileged to join The Indian Express and its community of readers in marking this day and each year, we celebrate the spirit of survival and understanding. Each year, I discover that the power of survival is linked to the power of humanity, of our collective commitment that we shall not let the terrorists define who we become.
This time, too.
True, 26/11 brought home the urgent need to shore up our policing systems and shake off the institutional lethargy that had set in on internal security. True, that we have to be lucky every day while the terrorist had to be lucky just once.
And yet, the danger is of letting the language and mantra of security spread and grow, till “we” are locked in constant and mortal combat with “them”, till accusation becomes more believable than proof, and only the spectres are clear and present, while everything else is looked upon as uncertain and subject to verification.
‘The Legend Of Maula Jatt’: #Pakistani Epic Sets Global Opening Weekend Record. Opening on over 500 screens in 25 markets, the action fantasy grossed PRK 51cr ($2.3M) globally, a new benchmark launch for a Pakistani title worldwide.#MaulaJatt https://deadline.com/2022/10/the-legend-of-maula-jatt-pakistan-global-box-office-record-1235147719/ via @Deadline
A reboot of the 1979 cult Punjabi classic, Maula Jat, Bilal Lashari’s The Legend of Maula Jatt is coming off of a record-breaking weekend for a Pakistan-made or Punjabi-language film. Opening on over 500 screens in 25 markets, the action fantasy grossed PRK 51cr ($2.3M) globally, a new benchmark launch for a Pakistani title worldwide. Check out the trailer below.
The movie (which The Guardian called Game of Thrones meets Gladiator) follows the titular Maula Jatt, a fierce prizefighter with a tortured past who seeks vengeance against his arch nemesis Noori Natt, the most feared warrior in the land of Punjab. Loyalties are challenged and families torn apart in an epic tale of truth, honor and justice. Fawad Khan (who appeared in Disney Plus series Ms Marvel), Mahira Khan, Hamza Ali Abassi and Humaima Malik star. Brian Adler (Avatar: The Way of Water, Avengers: Endgame) served as VFX supervisor.
From Encyclomedia and Lashari Films in association with AAA Motion Pictures, and overseas distributor Moviegoers Entertainment, this is said to be the largest-mounted Pakistan-made, Punjabi-language film to date.
In Pakistan, it took $517K, and in the UK picked up $355K from 79 locations. The latter is the highest opening weekend for any Pakistani or Punjabi film in the market where it entered at No. 9 on the chart.
In the U.S., The Legend of Maula Jatt grossed $290K and in Canada $235K, kicking off at No. 6. The UAE saw a No. 1 start with over $515K. In Australia, it opened at No. 6 with $160K. Other releasing markets included Norway, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and South East Asia.
The filmmakers tell us demand has been extraordinary with exhibitors adding screenings throughout the weekend and into the week.
Lashari — who directed, co-wrote, lensed, edited and produced the movie — enthused, “I’m beyond overwhelmed by the love the film has received from audiences and critics alike the world over. We are so proud that The Legend of Maula Jatt has been instrumental in putting Pakistan-made cinema on the global map as it continues to win over hearts in theaters across the world.”
Producer Ammara Hikmat said, “The Legend of Maula Jatt has been our labor of love for a number of years. The pandemic came and returned but we knew we had to hold out for a theatrical release, as the film is undoubtedly a big screen experience… We’re so delighted that our film has broken previous records and set a new benchmark for Pakistan-made cinema, loved and lauded not only domestically but by audiences and critics globally.”
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