Pakistani singer-actor Ali Zafar says Pakistani cinema is going
through a bad patch for want of good stories but feels that with
the entry of new age directors and the social media, the content
quality is expected to improve.
"Pakistani cinema is going through a rough patch, but slowly it is
getting better, with new age directors getting into filmmaking and
producing films like 'Bol' and 'Khuda Kay Liye'," Ali told IANS in
The 31-year-old actor admits that the new generation in Pakistan
is opening up to fresh and realistic stories.
"People have rejected those bogus old ways of telling stories as
they want something new. Pakistan is witnessing a new wave, thanks
to social media. With the help of social media, people have
rejected the old norms through commenting, conducting debates and
discussion," Ali said.
"For example, there was a video of a woman who goes to a park and
raids couples, asking them whether their parents know about their
relationship. People didn't like it and they stood against it; as
a result that girl was held accountable and got fired.
"It feels very nice to see that youth and people are aware, they
are more politicised. They all want change. It is a myth that
Pakistan is a conservative country," he added.
Once a prolific moviemaking country, Pakistan had 1,300 cinema
halls in the 1970s with an average annual production of around 300
movies. But by 2005, the country had only 270 cinema halls and
made about 18 movies a year. The rest of the movie halls have been
converted into gas stations, shopping malls or car showrooms.
In 2010, just eight Pakistani movies were produced.
Movie buffs in Pakistan had a hearty appetite for Bollywood
movies, but they had to watch pirated copies of Hindi films as the
release of Indian films had been banned in Pakistan.
In 2008, the Pakistan government lifted the ban on Indian films
and that has given a much-needed boost to the cinema business,
"Since Indian films have started coming to Pakistan, people are
going to cinemas more often. Now more cinema halls are being
constructed. The government has made the rule that every mall
should have a theatre and screens and it is certainly getting
better," he added.
In recent times two Pakistani films - "Bol" and "Khuda Kay Liye"
by Shoaib Mansoor - were not only appreciated on their home turf
but also won critical acclaim in the international arena. Mehreen
Jabbar's "Ramchand Pakistani", which had Indian actress Nandita
Das, too was appreciated globally.
Pakistani filmmaker Mian Adnan Ahmad's short film "Heal" won the
Best Science Fiction-Fantasy Film award at this year's Comic-Con
International Independent Film Festival.
Although Ali hasn't done any films in Pakistan, he worked as a
model for several commercials. He has also acted in Pakistani TV
serials like "Lunda-Bazar" and "Kanch Ke Par" and teenage sitcom "Kollege
Jeans". He is delighted to see the quality of shows being produced
in the country.
"I did TV shows to make pocket money so that I can create music.
But television is doing great. We have some really good shows
being made, so quality work is being produced. There was a time
when the quality went off-track, but now it is doing really good,"
said Ali, known for giving hit songs like "Rangeen", "Sajaniya"
and most recently "Madhubala" from "Mere Brother Ki Dulhan".
Ali made his Bollywood debut with Abhishek Sharma's critically
acclaimed "Tere Bin Laden" and later won accolades for his
performance in "Mere Brother Ki Dulhan".
He is now gearing up for the release of another Bollywood venture
"London, Paris, New York". It is releasing March 2.
" 'London, Paris, New York' is a sweet romantic comedy based in
these three cities and has cute bantering between two people (Ali
and Aditi Rao Hydari). I play the role of Nikhil Chopra, a rich
kid whose father is a film producer and who goes abroad to study
filmmaking, thinking he will become a big director one day. He
meets Lalitha and things transform into a love story," he said.
(Priyanka Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)