The films being produced in our country today are not reviving Pakistani cinema, but are rebuilding it. These were the thoughts of Atrium Cinemas Managing Director Nadeem Mandviwalla on the second day of the Karachi Literature Festival.
He was one of the speakers at a session titled ‘The Fall and the Rise of Pakistani Cinema’ at the Beach Luxury Hotel, along with film-makers Meher Jaffri (producer of Seedlings) and Adnan Malik. Mandviwalla said Pakistani cinema will have to be rebuilt because the “gap between the films of the ‘60s and ‘70s and 2012 is huge and cannot be filled”.
So much has been said and written about the revival of Pakistani cinema, that one doesn’t expect anything fresh or thought-provoking from a session like this, but fortunately the discussion at the KLF had more to offer than was expected.
Since it is geographically sandwiched between two film industry giants India and Iran, Pakistani cinema faces an identity crisis: what kind of films should be produced by our industry? Mandviwalla resolved this mystery by presenting an interesting analogy of contrasting the film industries of the US and UK to India and Pakistan. He said that Pakistan might never produce commercial blockbusters like Dabangg, but has the potential to produce one influential film that will sweep all awards like Shakespeare in Love did, as opposed to many other Hollywood flicks of that time.
He also spoke about Mandviwalla Entertainment’s collaboration with TV channel ARY Digital, which will help create venues for public screenings of independent films like Seedlings.
Jaffri said that the gap between producers and distributers creates difficulties in getting independent films projected on big screens. She spoke about the difficulties she is facing as she tried to get her film Seedlings onto big screens. “You can make a film in Pakistan but there is a huge void between producers and distributors,” she said.
Arguing that things have started getting better for Pakistani cinema, Madviwalla urged the film-makers to continue making films in order to improve the quality, instead of waiting for the cinema industry to provide them an ideal working situation.
While independent film-makers like the Seedlings team are making films that rank high in terms of quality and content, movie marketers and distributors are more likely to pay attention to films that rake in big numbers at the box office during their opening week. As a result, businessmen expect producers and directors to make the film industry economically feasible. To make this possible, Pakistani film-makers can follow the Indian film industry’s business plan of stepping up on making films which are not only suitable for local audiences but can also be featured in the international market.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2013.