Friday, January 27, 2006

Sohni Mahiwal come back home...

A Bollywood film is to be screened in Pakistan for the first time in 40 years. The distributor of "Sohni Mahiwal" – a film based on the Punjabi folklore – has been successful in persuading the authorities to make an exception to the rule. The film’s distributor is said to have imported the film to Pakistan in 1989 and has been involved in a legal battle to allow its screening since then. But bearing in mind that the film was made in 1984 – more than two decades ago – one fails to see how the distributor can luck out with the rare opportunity he has been provided with.

The government hasn’t made any suggestions that it’s considering the lifting of the decades old ban. The film has been ruled as an exception because the story’s origin happens to be from Pakistan.

The screening of Indian films in Pakistan has been the topic of several heated debates among the film circles for a few years now with both the "for" and "against" camps boasting some of the biggest names of Pakistani media... but what’s all the fuss about.

I, for one, have still not been able to decide whether or not I want the Indian movies to be screened in Pakistan but I think I am a bit inclined towards allowing the screening.

Let’s analyze the scenario. There are some valid arguments which go against the screening of Bollywood movies. One being that such a move will wipe out whatever is left of the Pakistani film industry. As far as my personal opinion goes, I believe whatever is left of the so-called ‘Lollywood’ would be much better off obliterated. Except for a very few films, which can be classified as just “acceptable”, the movies being produced in Pakistan are simply terrible and seriously question the level of creativity and aesthetics thriving amongst the people of Pakistan. The cinema industry is as good as dead already so the demise of the cinema industry is out of question. In fact, allowing Indian movies will not only revive the cinemas but can also help revitalize Lollywood.

With the cinema industry revived and the populace back in the balconies, Pakistani producers can finally muster up the courage to pump in more money in their own film industry and come up with better projects. Because if you see some of the tele-films that are being produced in Pakistan these days, they can seriously go head to head with some of the best produces of the Indian cinema, provided that one’s not too big a fan of the glamour element. There are hosts of young talented people who’ve taken the Pakistani television scene by storm but most of these will never even try to get into the movie biz because of the fact that it isn’t as lucrative, and on top of that, it’s not even a respectable industry to be associated with. The people associated with the television industry have been able to earn some respect for themselves with the good work that they’ve come out with but films still remain sort of a taboo. Cinema has lost its place among the lives of people. It has become so ‘out-of-place’ that there are a lot of teenagers and youngsters in Pakistan who’ve never even been to a cinema. A revitalized and rejuvenated cinema industry can encourage these youngsters to consider the film industry as a serious industry and with the influx of talent; the industry is all set to boom.

Another ‘very’ valid argument we generally encounter is the fact that most of the Indian films produced these days do not, by far, conform to the Pakistani cultural and traditional values. But a simple solution to that might be the screening of a selected movies (albeit I believe that only one out of 20 films made in India these days can get a nod from a morally correct censor board).

So, can we expect to see Shah Rukh Khan in Gulistan cinema soon?

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