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Pakistani Cinema: Controversies Cleared

In the last month Pakistani cinema has taken a huge upward turn, with the release of Jalaibee taking place simultaneously in Pakistan, UK and USA. An array of trailers of films have been released with scheduled release dates all in 2015. These films include 3 Bahadur, Wrong Number, Jawani Phir Nahin Ani, Bin Roye, Moor and Ho Mann Jahaan. Films such as Dekh Magar Pyar Se, Karachi Se Lahore and Halla Gulla are also slated for a 2015 release but no trailers have been released as of yet.

Although the news of a new wave of movies coming into Pakistan is being applauded, controversies have also erupted due to item songs now being featured in our movies.

Should this much controversy be generated regarding a few item songs? Many would feel that dance numbers are irrelevant and are a sign of vulgarity no matter how tastefully executed, but many also believe that these songs are necessary in certain films. Looking at the history of Pakistani films dance numbers whether it be in Urdu, Punjabi or Pashto genres, these item songs were always present but were not highlighted as such at the time. Who can forget Rani dancing to “Hum Hain Deewane Tere” from Aakhri Chattan, Mumtaz dancing to “Tere Mere Lad Gaye” in Ann Data, Anjuman dancing to “Pehla Salaam Karaan” in Sala Sahab, Reema dancing to Daane Pe Daana in Munda Bigra Jaaye, Meera dancing to “Dekho Dekho Bijli” in Mujhe Jeenay Do and even more recently Saima dancing to “Sonf Supari Wala” in Ishq Khuda. Fact of the matter is, dance numbers have always been part of Pakistani films and probably always will be. Operation 021 was probably rejected in certain cinemas because of the failure of any viable songs! The good thing about Pakistani cinema is that dance numbers will not be included in every film, as we have films like Waar, Dukhtar, Tamanna and upcoming film Moor, where songs and dance numbers are nearly absent from the film.

Another huge controversy being created about our upcoming films is the shortage of actors in them. Weirdly enough, for years social media has been bombarded with the saying “the same faces in all our films” in reference to the usual Reema, Shaan, Resham, Saima and Saud being cast repeatedly. Recently though, there have been an array of fresh faces, including many from our drama industry who have taken the film industry by storm. In a recent TV interview film star Sahiba stated, “We are making films which I can only call telefilms, because of the lack of film stars in them!” The fact is our cinema has finally taken a new direction by releasing more quality-oriented films, with storylines fictional and social to accommodate everyone’s needs. Shaan, Meera and Saima are all featured in Shezad Rafique’s Ishq Khuda in 2013, but since then the appearances of our former actors have been close to none. Although Saima is currently featured in Shezad Rafique’s Salute and Resham also has a film in the pipeline “Swarangi.” The new cinema in Pakistan is directed at hiring actors and actresses who command popularity among the masses and are suitable for their roles. This may be one of the reasons that stars from our drama industry have taken the silver screen by storm and are making Pakisatni cinema what it is today.

Another major issue generated during the past month was that of Hamza Ali Abbasi, the talented star who gave us Pyare Afzal. Hamza came under fire for some comments he made, to which some would agree were blown out of proportion! Hamza is a great actor and one of the biggest assets we as a growing industry have. Let’s not forget the leading from the front stance he took during recent PTI protests! You may agree or disagree with his political stance, but the fact that he took a stand for the rights of Pakistanis should be appreciated. His comments regarding item numbers had bad timing more than anything else as the trailer of “Jawani Phir Nahi Ani” had just released. Either way his comments regarding item numbers were amplified on social media whether it be Facebook or Twitter. A lot of people agreed with him and aired the same view.

The fading name of “Lollywood”, which was created years ago,to generate awareness of Pakistani cinema globally, is unfortunately more reflective of the loud Punjabi films of the 80s. Ali Zafar recently stated we should create identity of our film industry based on the name Pakistani Film Industry or Pakistani Cinema as opposed to Lollywood! Ali has hit the nail on the head with this statement! To focus on our new found fame in cinema and on the rebirth, revival of Pakistani films, it should be necessary to give our film industry a name that suits its output!

2015 seems to be a promising year for Pakistani cinema, with major production houses and channels backing films including ARY Films and Geo Films and even more recently A-Plus Films and Hum Films. Seems that the film industry is gaining momentum and that too, at a quick pace. The films being created do not belong to atypical genre but are an array of several different genres, which provides the industry with much needed versatility. Plus now films are being made to an amazing standard which we need to appreciate.

Good luck to all the films being released this year as well as future projects. I hope Pakistani film industry is once again restored to its former glory!

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