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Ruined film industry brings heartache to Mustafa Qureshi

Published Jun 25, 2012 01:36pm


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Film director Sangeeta accompanied by actor Mustafa Qureshi and director Syed Noor, speaks at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club.–File Photo

As we delve into a discussion on the revival of Pakistan’s film industry, he seems disappointed. Mustafa Qureshi – an iconic film villain of the late 1970s up until the 2000s – has been pressing the government to resuscitate the film industry and has put forth several suggestions. None have been looked into and no apparent steps have been taken. Still, he hasn’t given up hope.

A diehard supporter of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) from days of their late founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Qureshi believes that unless the government comes forward and helps raise a parallel cinema, revival of the film industry will remain an arduous task.

“I am not saying that the government is not serious but I have not seen any of the plans being implemented, despite their agreement. There has to be some progress”, he tells

Last weekend, Qureshi was in his hometown of Hyderabad, along with his wife Rubeena Qureshi – a renowned folk singer – to attend a tribute event organised for the couple.

“It pains me when I see ruined film studios. A revival of the industry will not only restore the lost glory of studios, it will also give a source of livelihood to thousands rendered jobless by the economic downturn” he says. According to him, the film business and cinema houses provided for countless households.

“Imagine a thousand people going to the cinema for a three-hour show and then multiply it with three shows a day, 21 shows a week and 84 shows a month. Not only was it great entertainment but also accounted for the economic well-being of people,” Qureshi says.

“Parallel cinema is a solution but certain sensitivities should be respected. We mustn’t bring religion, race and sect into it and avoid obscenity. Selling nudity or getting nude is not an art,” says Qureshi, who has been associated with the film industry for 45 years.

The rising popularity of television morning shows worries Qureshi. “Surprisingly they have become a source of entertainment. Such shows are often devoid of ethics and morality.”

Qureshi seems equally disturbed to see that the government holds back its funds where the film industry is concerned but spends billions otherwise. For example, the Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) uses government funds to organise several events.

He recalls that late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto formed the National Film Development Corporation (Nafdec) only to be abandoned after his death. Qureshi urges the government to invest up to 200 million rupees, which is not a big amount for them but could encourage investors. “I can guarantee it will lead to revival of the film industry.”

“These events incur huge expenditures and these gatherings only cater to the rich. If the same amount is spent on filmmaking, the government will earn money too.”

Young Pakistanis, who are studying filmmaking in the country and abroad, give hope to Qureshi. “I hope they respond to our needs for quality film production.”

Despite his imposing personality, Qureshi is unable to do much for his industry without the government, to whom he urges to re-launch Nafdec. The Ministry of Culture, he says, should be given to artists, producers, directors, signers, playback singers and technicians.

“Our art and literature must be preserved, as they a form of our national identities.”

It is no surprise that Qureshi speaks so pensively about the film industry. He has been voicing concerns over the crumbling entertainment, especially, film scene in the country for years. Last year, when a ban on Indian films was suggested in Pakistan, Qureshi spoke out against the ban.

Indian films, he said were the meagre business of cinema houses that made him realise that “the show must go on.”

For Qureshi, film is an institution that concerns people. “I think the government wants to take initiatives but gets embroiled other issues….we have held so many meetings but it is all about of implementation of what you decide. If you don’t implement things it will be useless,” says the celebrated artist.

Pakistani films, over the years, have been revolving around the same themes and Qureshi urges writers to find new subjects and ideas for script as there is no dearth of them.

There was time that the county held over 900 cinema houses, but today there are only 175 and Qureshi fears that even these will be replaced by plazas and shopping malls. On an average, 175 films used to be produced in a year, which led to economic activities and generation of revenue for the treasury.

Local investors, according to him, are not investing in the industry as they do not see it as a profitable sector. Despite such gloom, some people are still producing films and Qureshi is full of praise for them.

Filmmaking should be used to fight propaganda against Pakistan, Qureshi insists. “We can use films to show that we are educated and civilized people. The message could easily be spread in the world and ‘Khuda key Liye’ and ‘Bol’ are examples.”


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Comments (12) Closed

jd shami Jun 25, 2012 06:26pm
BAN all Indian films and the talk about Indian actors on our television. It pains me when all private TV channels play only Indian songs and vulgar/obscene programs like BOLLYWOOD BUZZ are shown. I cannot watch these with my family. Lets jump stasrt our own Pakistani Industry.
Riaz Jun 26, 2012 04:58pm
Pakistani films are not far away from those obscure scenes and vulgarity either? Have you watched Pushto films? They are like watching porn movies dude. Banning Indian films is not the answer. The answer is to grow our industry to the same standards or more than the Indian industry, so that people would want to watching Pakistani movies rather than Indian movies. When english movies were shown in India, they didn't ban showing english movies so that people only watch Indian movies, instead they pumped up the standard of Indian movies high enough that people watch and prefer to watch Indian movies over english movies. We need to do the same ... grow ourselves ... instead putting others down!
smith Jun 26, 2012 09:58am
Ruined film industry brings heartache to Mustafa Qureshi really!!! growing up in Pakistan i never remember in my school life in 80's that Pakistani industry wasn't ruined,this industry was always a ruined and will be ruined,don't know why Mustafah is catching headache.what we really need to be worry about our ruined PTV,which was the back bone of the society with its quality and high standards.
Nasser Ali Khan Jun 25, 2012 02:09pm
Mustafa Qureshi was a great actor over decades; it is a shame that apart from loss of film industry in itself, ordinary people have lost livelihoods. May we soon a thriving film industry in Pakistan again; inshallah!
aaa Jun 25, 2012 02:35pm
We are educated and civilzed people. That surprizes me. I mean do we think otherwise?
Saleem A Khan Jun 26, 2012 01:54am
Movies are great entertainment for the whole family. Our film artists, writers, singers, producers and support crew are very talented individuals and should be supported by us. Revival of our film industry can create many jobs that we dearly need in our country. Let us support our own film industry and make it successful and let us not support movie piracy. One way to support our film industry is to go out to the movie theatre and watch our own Pakistani movies.
Kathy Jun 26, 2012 05:54am
Mustafa Qureshi is absolutely right in his statements. He is, no doubt, a great actor. I appreciate his efforts in revival of our film industry.
m hussain khan Jun 26, 2012 06:43am
Thank you for your comments friends, Kathy and Naseer Ali Khan. M.Hussain Khan, writer of this piece.
Tanveer Ahmad Khan Jun 26, 2012 07:07am
Mustafa Qureshi Sahib is a great actor and off and on news come of him talking about the dismal state of our film industry but it seems that the government has some other priorities which I think mainly becasue of unstable political set-up, had there been a solid and stable political system the situation could have been different. However, the revival of our film industry is very important as it provides non expensive entertainment to millions on one hand and ensures livelihood for thousands of families associated with this industry on the other hand. Further, it is a powerful media and the government must think about it seriously !!
M Khaleeq Jun 26, 2012 07:44am
Film industry in Pakistan was the only entertainment for people in particular the poorer. It was an important source promoting the culture and awareness of the changing world around us. Indian film industry is today dominating throughout the world without any competitor as Pakistan was always. The industry provides work directly and indirectly throughout the country. It is also a source of education and information.
Tam Jun 26, 2012 08:45pm
Pakistani TV channel telecast it because general Pakistani public likes cant control the source of entertainment.....everybody have right to watch what they want....banning Indian movies will not revive Pakistani Cinema.....But Quality Pakistani movies will definitely revive......
Sony Jun 28, 2012 02:12pm
a 1.2 billion population and all of them movie crazy, a culture and government promoting and respecting arts and artists and a pretty open society with a thriving entertainment scene, an educated class of technicians and studios running the show and stars that are international icons. Add to the that the stability of the country and law order situation and basically a rising economy that pumps billions of dollars into the movie industry and a cinema culture that has more movie theatres and multiplxes than any other country in asia. Indian movie industry is the biggest in the world in size, production, employment and audience if not revenues and then there are other associated industries that are fully developed like the music, tv and fashion etc. There is no way a smaller country like pak with all its moral, religious, political, economic and security issues can compete with that giant. Pak should make movies that are true to its own culture and basically serve its demographics. There is another factor here - a relatively open culture will always beat a restrictive society in arts and entertainment so pak movie industry should go the iran way and work towards making indie movies that are artistic and are within its moral, religious and ethical mores.