KARACHI: Film producers held an emergency press conference at the Arts Council on Saturday evening to highlight their concern that despite a good box office show by the five Pakistani films released on Eidul Fitr cinema owners have preferred a foreign movie, Dr Strange, to local films.

Speaking on the occasion, Badar Ikram representing the Hum TV Network said they had earlier requested the authorities concerned to give the Pakistani films three days (Friday — when the English film was to be screened — Saturday and Sunday) after Eid.

“We were given assurance by the ministry through different quarters that we would get that. We must clarify here that we’re not against foreign films nor do we want to ban any film. We want cinemas to earn money. If they earn, the film business will increase, and Pakistani films will benefit from it. Our plea is that we have given five films which have been very well received. After a long time Pakistani films have performed well. Until 3pm yesterday [Friday] we were going great. Immediately after 3pm, 50 per cent of the shows were dropped. We don’t know what’s going to happen today.”

Mr Ikram pointed out the Motion Pictures Act of 1979 according to which no cinema can screen more than 15pc foreign films.

Producers, directors and artists urge PM to save film industry

Actor Adnan Siddiqui, who has produced Dum Mastam, said it is his first venture as producer.

“Through our life savings (umr bhar ki kamai) we put the film on the silver screen only because it’s our passion. I’m not saying that I should get profit out of it. If I get in return what I’ve invested, it’ll be a big thing for me. But it doesn’t seem like it. That foreign film had already raked in big money through advanced booking, so even if it was released a little later, it’d have attracted the same crowds. We had only asked a week for that film to delay… How can our cinema become big? Only if you support us.”

Nida Yasir said she and her husband Yasir Nawaz worked hard to accumulate money in order to make the film Chakkar.

“This is our fourth film, and we made this film thinking that even if we get the amount that we’ve put in, we’ll invest it again to make another film. Yesterday, our film was taken off from quite a few cinemas,” she added.

Yasir Nawaz, the director of Chakkar, said he’d begun shooting for the film a few days before Covid hit the country. Nobody knew how long the pandemic would last.

“We said let’s bear this three to four-day loss and not make the film. But then we thought that if we don’t make films, how the industry will move forward. We do a great deal of work to promote films so that people walk into cinema houses. So we should support each other. Someone informed me that he had bought the ticket for our film but when he went to the cinema he was told that either he get a refund or watch the foreign film,” he said.

Wajahat Rauf, director of Parde Mein Rehne Do, told the media that on Friday there were 453 shows out of which 220 were given to the foreign film, while Pakistani movies got 10 to 12pc screening.

Actor Javed Sheikh requested Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, to take immediate action and save the Pakistani film industry. “Take action today, call Marriyum Aurangzeb and ask her about the issue. It has never happened before that after a three-day run of Pakistani films they’re taken off the cinemas without prior notice.”

Amjad Rasheed, Shazia and Ahmed Shah also spoke.

The five Pakistani films released on Eid were Ghabrana Nahin Hai, Chakkar, Parde Mein Rehne Do, Dum Mastam and Terey Bajrey Di Raakhi.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2022

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