KARACHI: Karachis' cinema houses are back in business. But for how long, that’s the question.
This Eid not just a big-budgeted, A-list Indian film but the release of two Pakistani Urdu films were also eagerly awaited: Syed Faisal Bukhari’s Bhai Loag and film star Reema’s second directorial venture Love Mein Ghum.
While it has to be said that cinema-goers did make an effort to watch the Pakistani movies, it was Reema’s film that drew lesser praise and audience. On the other hand, Bollywood’s Bodyguard, starring Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor, made movie buffs queue up at ticket counters for hours at the new, well-equipped multiplexes as well as at old facilities such as Bambino cinema.
According to a rough estimate, Bodyguard, directed by Siddique, raked up Rs5 million from 21 cinemas of the country only on the first day (Aug 31) of its screening. (Don’t ask about what it has managed to accumulate worldwide.)
At Karachi's Cineplex and Atrium Mall those who couldn’t get tickets for the Salman Khan movie were seen going for Bhai Loag and Love Mein Ghum as second and third options. Bodyguard, despite having a bit of a puerile storyline, was loved by the audiences for its slick action sequences and nice romantic moments between the two protagonists.
Unexpectedly, some say expectedly, Faisal Bukhari’s Bhai Loag, a different take on the local underworld scene, overshadowed Reema’s Love Mein Ghum business-wise. This also came as a surprise because the latter has its song sung by Indian play-back singers and has one Indian cast member, comedian Johnny Lever, working alongside Moammar Rana, Reema, Ali Saleem and Javed Sheikh. The general view of the public was that between the two Pakistani films, Faisal Bukhari’s was more worthy of being watched. Not that Love Mein Ghum could be dubbed a failure. The film too is doing reasonably well at the box office, not as much as its two competitors though.
“I’ve come to see Bhai Loag. I’ve heard it’s a good film,” said Jamil Ahmed, a middle-aged man, roaming around the ticket counter at Bambino cinema at least 90 minutes before the 3 o’clock show.
Bhai Loag’s popularity among the masses could also be gauged from the reaction of the rather taciturn gatekeeper at Bambino: “Bhai Loag acha chal raha hai” (Bhai Loag is doing well). Raja Shakil, who works on the same premises, claims that since Eid Faisal Bukhari’s movie has had at least four house-full shows, whereas Reema’s had a 90 per cent seats occupied at best.
“I think it’s good that Pakistani films are being released. I’m busy these days with my own theatre play Amn Ka Chhakka. Despite that I made it a point that I come and see a local film,” said Akhtar Shirani, a known Karachi stage artiste, talking to Dawn near the box office counter at Scala cinema.
Keeping with modern times, Nishat cinema is running the two Pakistani films at a time and reports are that it’s the saga of the underworld that has managed to pull in more people.
Sources told Dawn that some influential individuals tried their best to stop Bodyguard from being screened on the special day.
Only at the 11th hour it was allowed to be shown in Pakistan.
Apart from Indian and Pakistani movies, a couple of Hollywood films also premiered on Eid — Captain America: The First Avenger and Conan the Barbarian — and both are doing well, according to an official at Atrium Mall.