The days when Lahore meant cinema


It has been some time now that Lollywood, the so not popular Pakistani film industry, lost its touch. People no longer feel the buzz when it comes to watching Pakistani films. Cine-goers have resorted to foreign films. Cinemas have stopped showing local film with Lollywood appearing to breathing its last breathe.
To the older generation Lahore’s cinema came as a breathe of fresh air. Those who experienced cinema in the 1950s and 60s retain fond memories of local movies. A Wareed Murad film would film up cinemas every time. Wareed Murad has been replaced by Shahrukh Khan. Cinema and cinema going is now without roots.
In the long hiatus in which the silver screen has left viewers craving for entertainment, its lacks have meant viewers turning their back on it. The decay of the Pakistan film industry suffered a steady decay.
One of the causes has been the absence of government support.
A positive startup:
After partition, the film industry was set up at Lahore with limited film studios in Karachi and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) as well. The film industry started off fine: in touch with both its’ time and art. Problems began when the industry needed to upgrade technology. Every decade film technologies are upgraded. Mainstream cinema requires remaining up-to-date. To Lollywood’s detriment attempts by producers to import modern equipment were thwarted by high taxes on the equipment. This became cause of the industries stagnation.
Film director Syed Noor reminisced in a TV interview when he finally was able to place an order for a camera lens he required, the German camera manufacturing company replied it had been five years since they stopped manufacturing the lens Noor required.
That is not all; the Pakistani government, especially during Zia-ul-Haq’s era, amidst the fall of the industry also started to instruct film producers about the costumes actors should wear in films. Shalwar kameez for males and dupatta for the heroines was declared mandatory. The viewers certainly did not pay for that.
The last nail in the film industry’s coffin was nailed when studios were ordered to close and the agricultural mafia (milkmen and cattle breeders) took over the reins.
This agricultural mafia forced the film writers to depict their lifestyle and the long series of ‘gujjar and badmaash films’ started, which is still continuing. The writers lost their touch to churn out good stories depicting the real issues of the common man of Lahore.
Decayed Lollywood distorted the viewers’ taste and developed a strange fascination for a desi, illiterate, indispensable, violence loving action hero who loved his gun and enjoyed playing with buffaloes in the field.
In more than a 60 years history of our industry now but have produced only three genuine superstars including Muhammad Ali, Nadeem and Waheed Murad. Film producers have not given any chances to young people, which led to a vacuum once these three were not able to carry on as lead heroes. Look at the dynasties India has produced, Khans, Kapoors, Khannas, Bachchans and Roshans. But we can’t name a single film family we can be proud of. It is due to the fact that our producers, distributors, exhibitors and studio owners were not expansionists and preferred to rely upon a few faces for their business, which was unfortunate. We need to build institutions not personalities because personalities come and go but institutions have to stay on.
Rise of multiplexes:
Indian films are being screened in Pakistani cinemas since 2006, which have revived the cinema business to an extent. Multiplexes are being set up in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, which have revived the public’s interest in going to cinemas not only on weekends but weekdays as well. But reviving the cinema business doesn’t mean that the local film industry has been revived. A cine-goer still prefers watching Hollywood or Bollywood films instead.
Most important we need a will on the part of some people to revive the film industry. Let’s take a joint step to save our culture and integrity so that we could be proud of ourselves.