Pakistani film industry seems to be doing well and this is “nothing short of a Phoenix-like rise from the ashes”, said a leading Pakistani daily on Tuesday.
An editorial “Film revival?” in the Dawn said that just a few years ago, anyone making the prediction would have been dismissed for building castles in the air: “that cinemas across the country would be doing booming business and feeling confident in investing hard cash, large amounts of it, into infrastructure”.
It added that nobody could have then guessed “that shows would be running to packed capacity with even a queue for tickets; and, what would have seemed most far-fetched of all, that audience would be able to take their pick from new, locally made films for the silver screen, some of them of a quality to hold their own against imported fare”.
“Serendipitously enough, though, this magical moment seems to have come to pass. Over these Eid holidays past, so many new Pakistani films were scheduled to be released that the screening dates had to be phased,” it said.
Describing it as “nothing short of a Phoenix-like rise from the ashes”, the daily said that the local film industry, which suffered sometimes justified criticism for poor quality from the late ’80s onwards, was more or less declared comatose once the television landscape was liberalised and turned into a viable and paying profession.
“Film studios in Lahore, once the hub of the local movie industry, fell deserted while the offices of entertainment television channels teemed with fresh entrants. From there to where we are now has been remarkable progress.”
There is much that Pakistan’s filmmakers can be proud of. From production quality to the range of subjects taken up, the variety and evidence of the potential to be mined is heartening.
“Is it a revival of the industry, though? Unfortunately enough, it’s too early to tell yet. There is one thing, though, that is bound to help, and that is for filmmakers and producers to put objectively-assessed quality standards above all else,” the daily said.
It went on to say that in the months and years ahead, the film format will find itself tempted to steer in the direction of formulae that dominate the television screens – many of them mere variations on the soap opera.
“Film must not take the same hidebound course.”