It is time for Lollywood to die

Published: October 28, 2010

Buxom heroines dancing around trees are not enough to make a successful film industry

We’ve been hearing about Lollywood’s revival for a decade now. Filmmakers and actors have been struggling (read: whining and demanding) since ages.

The ministry of culture has given Lollywood the industry status. The government has announced special grants. All the taxes on Pakistani films are waived off. Foreign films are banned time and again to promote local films.

All this and our veteran director Syed Noor says Lollywood can’t compete with foreign films.

Why? Because we don’t have the finances to match Bollywood films and people should stop comparing Pakistani films with big budget movies, he says.

How does one expect viewers to waste their money on tickets only to watch voluptuous figures dancing around the fields? Our filmmakers have been begging for years. Their feuds continue incessantly unless it’s about free gifts.

All the longstanding disputes were settled overnight under the banner of “United” Film Association when it came to sharing funds from the government. At the end, however, all came up with typical Lollywood films to exhibit on Eid and in some cases old films shot years ago were screened.

For the government that has been supporting Lollywood it’s time to realise that you can’t be a master of all trades.

If Pakistan’s entertainment scene has not been able to produce good films in recent years, it has at least marked success the world over with its music industry – something our neighbours couldn’t do. But do we find whining and self-pity at the other side of the border? No!

For the people concerned about a few good films produced by Pakistanis, movies like Khuda Kay Liye and Ramchand Pakistani were never associated with Lollywood anyway. The films genuinely competed in theatres and such projects will continue to draw public interest in the future as well.

If you’re thinking about the livelihood of studio workers and technical staff, they don’t seem to be much dependent on Lollywood anyway. The industry is producing only about 40 films annually to support these artists.  The point is simple – if you can’t make it, break it.

Lollywood is terminally ill. Electroshocks won’t help. Sustaining it will only bring massive losses. The best that can be done to the industry is active euthanasia – stop resuscitating, give it a lethal injection and let Lollywood die once and for all.


Farwa Zahra

Farwa Zahra is a Qatar-based journalist. She has studied Gender and Media at the London School of Economics. She tweets as @syedaz (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Shehryar Khan

    Valid point. You also have to cater for the fact that our films suffer because of a lack of ideas. The industry is like a mafia, the directors/producers are a niche, there was an occasional good Pakistani movie but it dies down!
    Budget could be one of the reasons but then again, if you’ve seen Alfred Hitchcock’s movies (like Rope- story unfolds in a drawing room) they’re based on brilliant story lines..
    You do not need the budget, you need the brains!

    This is being talked up for decades now, are the directors stupid? a big NO.
    I’m sure there’s a market for these films lucrative enough to keep the directors/producers coming back for more. Recommend

  • faraz

    The illiterate poor and lower middle class mainly watches these Punjabi movies. They are mainly drivers, conductors, policemen, daily wagers, shopkeepers ,milkmen, cobblers etc, who are in their mid 30s or early 40s. The life of these married men isnt much romantic so they dont find Bollywood movies much appealing. They enjoy such movies where there is crude voilence; a good natured dacoit who takes money from the rich and distributes it among the poor, a poor child who grows up and takes revenge from those who killed his parents, a villager who challenges the oppressive feudal and the corrupt police. These movies seem ridiculous to us but they are appealing to those poor people who have seen such miseries in life. Recommend

  • F. Alam

    I’m very disappointed with your analysis. It seems you have written it in frustration. So let’s look at your analysis from another point of view:

    Why have a small house with dripping ceilings (lollywood) when someone else has a beautiful bugalow (bollywood). We can never compete so lets destroy our house too!

    Why have our own army when our neighbour has a bigger army than ours?

    In fact, why have a country where everything is bad and another country is bigger and doing really well.

    Would you apply ‘if you can’t make it, break it formula’? Recommend

  • F. Alam

    Author’s research is very poor and heavily relies on two other posts. Government didn’t give any money to Lollywood. No industry status has been given (only announced). Industry status means anyone with a good business plan can get funding from the government. Tax free status is mainly in Punjab and even that since early 1990s. Lollywood doesn’t make 40 films a year either.

    Film industry should never be demolished. Only (and main) problem is the government. In 1980s, Zia discouraged films and Islamised that. Good people (like Faiz Ahmed Faiz, father of Asif Raza Mir etc) left film industry and people with interest in Mujras took over. If right kind of investors join the industry, one can get wornderful results. For example, Khawaja Pervaiz wrote most of the songs for 1994 Mast Mast music Album of Nusrat Fateh Ali. When investors demand him to write vulgar songs for Naseebo Lal, he does that because not many people are there for right reasons.

    Our society (and Zia) pushed out right people from film industry. These people were victimised so much (because they had pro Russia feelings) that they ended up in jails and lost everything. Now it is our duty to support right kind of people and compensate for what we have done (or tolerated) in the past.

    Arts reflect you and me. It is hypocricy to blame someone else for our own doing. Recommend

  • F. Alam

    With some research one can find out that the government is hell bent on killing film industry. They invite these actors for photo sessions only.

    One shoud read how a major media house (self righteous journalists) didn’t even give a penny to a Pakistani film and kept all the money. One can also find out why it took Shoib Mansoor so long to make a film after the success of Khuda ke liye? One can also see why Samina Peerzada is not making films because a 1999 court case is still pending (and we lost a good director for so long!)? Why not do some research on why actor Habib has not been paid money since 1990s for a film that he produced for Women minsitry? He is owed nearly 50 Lakh. As a society (and government) we have done our utmost to cripple our film industry and now we are fiding all the worst names that we can give it (before shooting it!!)Recommend

  • Tanzeel

    It’s high time for the so called Pakistani film industry to accept defeat and make a graceful departure to avoid further embarrassment.Recommend

  • SadafFayyaz

    Lollywood Lies………….:_)Recommend

  • Talha

    Zia destroyd our film industry in the early 80’s and it has never recovered since then, you cannot really say that it has gotten the support it requires becuase that is untrue to say the least.

    I also do not like this mentality of admitting defeat and giving up. Lollywood even with restrictions has shown some glimpses of hope and with the correct ingredients, the industry can rise again.

    F. Alam has raised some very valid points, the industry needs a boost by encouraging more participation, invoilvement and technical assistance.

    I beleive it will rise again but not under current circumstances, successive governments will have to take right actions to revive it.Recommend

  • F. Alam

    One example of Government ‘support’: Bhutto made film development authority (NAFDAC). I remember reading interview of Ayaz Rashidi (Chairman NAFDAC) in 1984 begging ‘give us one crore and take promise of good movies on a permannet basis’. Needless to say, he wasn’t given a penny. NAFDAC had a property that was becoming valuable.

    In 1990s, NAFDAC was closed down and its propety that had become worth 27 Crore was sold. Film industry never got that money back.

    Zardari promised that film industry will be given money from Kerry Lugar Bill which has earmarked US$75 Million for the development of arts. Maybe film industry should directly request the US for help! Prime minister promised 5 Crore which is still a promise.

    Even in 1978, a german cameraman (who shot Pakistani English film ‘Blood of Hussain’ starrign Samina Peerzada etc) tried to bring modern camera but the customs department made it impossible. He said that he even offered bribe but probably the money asked was much too hig. Film wasn’t allowed release in Pakistan and the director couldn’t make any film till 1998 again when he was asked by Akbar S. Ahmed to help him in the film Jinnah. Is it our pre-meditated lonng term campaign to destroy everything we have???????????

    Promises were made and film industry was asked to unite first. They united and nothing was given in the national budget. I have met many Pakistani producers whose films were either not allowed in Zia’s era or someone influential took all the box office takings. Have we made a system where a gentleman could make a film again like in 50, 60s, 70s? Why blame ‘Badmaash’ culture when our mighty governmet/army/judiciary doesn’t support artists to their own rightful money after their film is successful?

    Even now, if govenment just gives 5 Core per year for 5 films to graduate of National College of Arts Lahore, they can do wonders. We will get 5 good films per year and film industry will be on track. Recommend

  • rocket

    watching of all lollywood movies by the public to be made mandatory by govt.hope this incentive may revive lollywood. Recommend

  • Kashif

    Well I believe that Three Things Make a SIGNIFICANT Difference between Lollywood, Bolywood and Holywood Movies:
    1) Educated and Qualified Directors / Writers and Technicians
    2) Technology Advancement (Tools and Equipment)
    3) Government Support and Funding

    Hope that answers the concerns raised in the article by FarwaRecommend

  • Noor-ul-aln Hanif

    yeah you are right but Lollywood is Pakistan’s film industry and still there are many directors and producers that are making films infcat I am waiting for Shoaib Mansoor’s movie BOL hope for the best we need some good educated directors. If educated sirectors start making movies with knowledge of camera etc so I am sure our Lollywood film industry will nt remain behind! and I am sure a day will come
    The title of your blog It is time for lollywood to die I am not agree infact I dnt like this title we should make our industry good.
    TO do so we should appreciate our art, artst and creativity!!Recommend

  • Ali Sina

    I’ve worked with many Indians and Bangladeshis in the US and they are some of the nicest people I’ve met. No one talks about religion which is so taboo. It’s mostly shared feelings about how things could-be should-be and so on. With some close friends, sometimes we do get a bit deeper emotionally and wonder if there was no partition to begin with, we’d be a real superpower today, matching up with China. But all that maybe moot here. A few not so liberal folks disagree, but it’s a fact that a common culture binds us all together. If we let our children being taught from altered history books, and for the wrong reasons, it will be hard to change the ‘hate India’ mindset. Myself and many others watch Zee-TV and make no qualms about it. If cable TV brings us closer, why not? We need to be open and allow cable channels from India operate in Pakistan without being so suspicious. When there’s common culture, I see a need to unnecessarily pit a dying Lollywood against Bollywood. It’s not like there’s a deep urge to stall an influx of unwanted sinitic cultural influences! Inviting Indian cable into Pakistan will mostly certainly help resolve the issue on the mind of our youth — what is the other side like? Plain vanilla government sponsored cultural exchanges are okay but that’s not going to do much.Recommend

  • http://NA Ali

    I second you. this good for nothing lollywood should die. and these directors and actors all they do is yap yap yapRecommend

  • Anoop

    To have a good Film Industry you not only need finances but the right kind of attitude in the society. You need to have a vibrant society that respects art in every form and treats Artists with respect. Does a common Pakistani think that his/her daughter acting in a movie and dancing with a Guy is good?

    There are almost as many film Industries in India as many states. Lets take my own state’s example. I live in Bangalore and the language most commonly spoken here is Kannada. Guess what! Our Industry produces the MOST number of movies in India! In effect, in the world.

    So, Bollywood hasn’t destroyed our industry like it has Lollywood.

    It could be that its the language factor. As long as Lollywood keeps making movies in Hindi/Urdu it’ll not succeed. How about making movies in Punjabi? Guess, it would have the audience only in Punjab in Pakistan.

    The only solution I can think of is that it can play the role countries like Britain, Canada, Australia play with respect to Hollywood. They can provide us talent and we’ll do all the work.

    I dont see how Lollywood will escape the vicious cycle Bollywood is forcing it to be in. It has to accept Bollywood and be a part of it rather than compete with the Giant.Recommend

  • Farwa Zahra

    F. Alam: It’s not about being small or big. It’s about the attitude of filmmakers, their constant whining and asking for help, and expecting people will watch their films now when they have access to Hollywood and Bollywood.
    Secondly, if only you had READ the article PROPERLY, you could see it talks about the announcement from the government. Hence, a poor reading on your part.
    Lollywood doesn’t make 40 films a year? Really? Think again or surf the data. It’s in no way above 40 and I mean not just Urdu films here.
    Talking about Shoaib Mansoor, the article CLEARLY talks about his film. Films like Khuda Ke Liye are not associated with Lollywood. And such projects haven’t come out of constant pleadings for money either. And I reiterate, such projects will continue to mark their presence because of their quality.
    “Demolish” will be too hard a word. The article doesn’t talk about killing Lollywood. It’s simply about letting it die. They’re two different things. My point was simple. Having seen hardly any progress for years, it doesn’t make sense to invest in Lollywood. If there’s a potential, there’s always a progress. Have a look at Pakistan’s television and music, for instance.
    I hope this is sufficient for you BRIEF and mostly RELEVANT comments.Recommend

  • Farwa Zahra

    Also, although the “announced funds” from the government are still awaited, it has alread given a grant from Bait-ul-maal. Do you research before commenting again and better if you ask the chairman of United Film Association instead.Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    @Farwa Zahra: That is one of the most idiotic ideas of 2010. Lollywood is a cheap-source of entertainment for a whole lot of people. The only thing we might require would be some kind of screening body which rejects sub-standard material. If you have a problematic child, you do not kill him. You try to rectify it.Recommend

  • MyohMy

    Author has no idea what she is asking for!

    If you let someone die, you can never revive them or build things from scratch. Others would have left you 1000 years behind. Recommend