The downfall of Pakistani cinema

Published: January 20, 2011

Veterans in the industry are not doing much for improvement.

Quite often I have noticed veteran directors, producers and actors from our local film industry on television screens complaining that Pakistani cinemas are greatly occupied with foreign films, further alleging that this has denied their own films’ access to local audiences.

I personally feel that their attitude does not reflect a positive approach towards the issue of our diminishing film industry.

By vehemently pressing for a ban on the screening of foreign films in Pakistani cinemas, they, rather than trying to raise their bars in terms of quality, are actually conceding to the fact that their films cannot compete on an international level.

They often claim the lack of finances and technical expertise to be the prime causes for the downfall of Pakistani cinema. However, in my opinion the actual cause is lack of sincerity towards the art.

The deficiency in innovative stories, quality acting and engaging screenplays do not always require huge sums of money or technical expertise – all that is needed is consistent effort and a bit of natural talent, which these ‘veterans’ have deliberately refused to explore, by sticking to conventional filmmaking formulae preventing them from progressing.

However, all is not lost. The slow but significant evolution of independent filmmakers in Pakistan continues to thrive on low budgets (quite often a few cameras and some free actors), unaffected by competition, with one pursuit in mind – to get their ideas and work recognised.

These people don’t even complain about the promotion and projection of their work and rather adhere to a ‘do it yourself’ approach. They have successfully garnered a small, but significant following.

While the world is unfolding in terms of exchanging art (for instance, Hollywood making investments in India), with promotional campaigns of films going online, the demand to ban foreign films sounds ridiculous.

The Pakistani film industry does not need to compete. I believe it can co-exist on a smaller scale. What it needs to focus on is quality and innovation and once it finds a following, it can evolve and expand respectively. Till then … ‘veterans’ … quit whining and start working!


Sarah Khan

A sub-editor on the sport pages of The Express Tribune

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