Increasing trend of Cinema in Pakistan.
An interview with Mian Zahid, Owner of Cinestar Lahore.
Pakistan’s film industry was reborn after independence. Even with limited budget and facilities the industry managed to strive and produce some remarkable movies. Pakistan’s cinema was at its peak during Ayub Khan’s regime when color film were introduced and a lot of Pakistan film industry’s legends were introduced in that time. During the mid-80sPunjabi films took over Pakistani Cinema where Jutts and Gujjars with a ‘Gandasa’ in their hands became the heroes in every movie. As there was a strong policy of censorship specially for any display of affection onscreen, the directors and script writers shifted to more violent movies. This meant that the families now couldn’t go and watch the movies as they, because the culture they referred to in these films did not even come close to the true culture of Pakistan. Thus began the decline of cinema. In 1990 there were 750 cinema theatres in Pakistan and this number decreased to 175 by 2002. The cinemas left were in a really bad condition and showed movies which could never be watched by families.
In 2001 the Cinema Industry started to change again when cinemas like Anmol(opened in 1985) were taken over by Cinestar. In these new cinemas Hollywood and Bollywood movies were shown and it brought the people back to cinemas. In order to get a professional’s opinion about the decline and then a sudden trend of cinema in Pakistan, we interviewed Mr. Mian Zahid, who is the owner of Cinestar.
Q: Could you tell us about the history of Cinestar?
Mian Zahid: Cinestar took over the cinema Anmol, Township, Lahore in 2001. People had stopped going to the cinemas and ridiculed the idea of us investing in a cinema. But we didn’t lose hope. As you know that for a city as populated as Lahore, there is no healthy source of entertainment. So investing in a cinema was a huge risk but we took it anyways. But it was quite a big success. Our café’s profit alone, was more than 65 lakhs last year. This must give you a clear idea as to how good our cinema is doing.
Q: What sort of movies earn the most profit?
Mian Zahid: Well different types of movies attract different age groups. For example when a Bollywood emotional drama is showing that attracts a lot of women who want to see Shahrukh Khan and Ranbir Kapoor. English fantasies attract youngsters and animated and cartoon movies attract kids. As far as I think the movies which prove to be the most profitable are those which have famous Bollywood actors in them.
Q: Why do you think Pakistan’s Cinema has seen a decline over the years?
Malik Zahid:Currently we have 18 cinemas in Lahore but only 4 with good quality. The first reason is that Pakistan’s own film industry is so bad now that people don’t see a point in going to the cinemas to watch foreign movies. Another reason is that the educated people do not like watching mvies like Mola Jutt as those movies do not represent their own culture. They want to watch movies they can relate to but get disappointed by the movies produced in Pakistan. The entertainment taxes are really high so that is another reasin because people do not invest in this sector.
Q: How do think the film industry of Pakistan can be improved?
Malik Zahid: Well, the first reason is that we do not have many educated and professional people in this field. All the directors and actors and crew, they lack knowledge of what they’re doing and what they’re supposed to do. So we need more professional and knowledgeable people in our film industry. Another way to improve this industry is to get more investment. We need more people to invest and bring in more money to make better films and more films like Khuda k liye and Bol. Also, the corrupt mafia needs to be eliminated.
Q: What are you future plans if any for Cinestar?
Mian Zahid: We are planning to buy all the rights of IMAX technology in Pakistan so we will be their soul distributors. Also We are planning to open another Cinema in DHA.
Here is a link to the website of Cinestar.