'Originality sells': PM Imran urges Pakistani filmmakers to focus on producing original content

Published June 26, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing the the prize distribution ceremony of the National Amateur Short Film Festival in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing the the prize distribution ceremony of the National Amateur Short Film Festival in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday urged Pakistani filmmakers to focus on original content and adopt new approaches in filmmaking.

Addressing the prize distribution ceremony of the National Amateur Short Film Festival (NASFF) in Islamabad, the premier said he had seen Pakistani cinema evolve over time.

He said mistakes were committed at the beginning since the Pakistani film industry was "impressed" by Bollywood which resulted in copying and adopting another culture.

In contrast, he said, Pakistani television was exhibiting a different approach and culture which found appeal in India as well.

"So the most important thing I want to say to young filmmakers is that according to my experience of the world, only originality sells — the copy has no value," the prime minister said.

"I want originality in our film industry and for it to bring a new way of thinking," he said, adding that he had pointed to the lack of original content when he became prime minister and how much the Pakistani film industry was influenced by Hollywood and Bollywood.

The premier said he was repeatedly told that people don't watch local films unless commercial content isn't included. "Vulgarity started from Hollywood, came to Bollywood and then that kind of culture was promoted here.

"I requested the Turkish president at the time and brought the serial 'Ertugrul' to Pakistan. That has an alternate culture but it is popular and people see it," he pointed out.

"So my [advice] to young filmmakers is to bring your own original thinking and don't fear failure. It is my life's experience that the one who is afraid of defeat can never win.

"The fear of defeat is a big impediment to [achieving] man's [full] potential," he said, adding that copying other trends was the same as following the trodden path. "No one excels on the trodden path."

He praised the efforts of Pakistani filmmakers to promote the country's culture and said they had set out on a "fantastic path". The premier pointed out that filmmakers had a great opportunity to show those aspects of Pakistan which were unknown to the world.

'Soft image rooted in independence'

The prime minister also hit out against the need to promote Pakistan's soft image, saying that it was based on a sense of inferiority and defensiveness when Pakistan used to be mischaracterised during the 'war on terror'.

He said that a soft image was actually rooted in independence and self-belief, not in speaking English and donning Western clothing. "The world respects the one who respects themselves," he said, adding that "Pakistaniyat" should be promoted.

The prime minister said that this flawed understanding of a soft image had been born from the concept of "enlightened moderation".

He stressed that people who had no self-esteem, had an inferiority complex, copied others and lacked confidence were not respected by the world.

"I fully believe in our youth [...] I hope they will find context and real life stories here in Pakistan," he concluded.

'Time to work on Pakistan's perception'

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar also addressed the event and said the time had arrived to work on improving Pakistan's perception.

He said the NASFF was a small part of that effort and asked: "Why should we not give youth the responsibility of showing the real Pakistan?"

He said the festival was a platform which would not only showcase Pakistan's positive image to the world but also "encourage the youth and give new talent to Pakistan's media industry".

A very positive response had been received from educational institutions, said the ISPR chief, adding that hundreds of short films had been received.

He said the first 15 winners would be sent on a scholarship to the University of California for a one-year training course on advanced filmmaking.

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said that Pakistan's first media technology university would be inaugurated in August.

He said that under the prime minister's leadership, state-run media would be digitised on August 14, including Pakistan Television making the switch to hi-definition.

The information minister also said that other initiatives were in the works to help Pakistani cinema such as the approval of a film policy and a new film school in Karachi.

Chaudhry said the modern world was based on opinions and narratives for which media was a very important tool for states.

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