PESHAWAR: The Pakistan cinema industry is going through a difficult period but Pashto filmmakers are still reeling to keep the business alive.
“We are expecting to release four films for the upcoming Eid festival,” Shahid Khan, famous actor and director, told Arab News.
Eid-ul-Fitr is just round the corner now and Shahid Khan is busy editing his new release.
“My film is based on social issues, rivalry and romance.” These are old topics, Khan admitted, “but we have no other choice,” as people want to these see films.
“It is very difficult for us to go for experiments because new ideas demand more time and financial resources, whereas nobody from outside is willing to invest in the Pashto film industry,” Khan said.
“There was a time when we had dozens of movies on festivals, particularly on Eid. Now many of the filmmakers have either stopped making films or switched to other businesses.”
“We produced five films in 2015 and seven last year (2017). This year are able to bring only four in the market,” says Khan.
Other than financial constraints; during the wave of terrorism in the past decade films and other cultural festivities struggled all over Pakistan, particularly in northwestern parts of the country.
In recent years many owners have demolished cinemas that were decades old and constructed commercial plazas.
Habib-ur-Rehman has been associated with the film industry since 1978. He manages the Picture House cinema in Peshawar and complains that easy access to the Internet and mobile phones “shattered” the cinema business.
“People can find everything, whatever they like on their mobile phone screen,” added Rehman.
At the moment in Peshawar, only three cinemas are running new movies; the rest show old ones. Rehman said: “Most of the viewers are local people and Afghans,” adding that it is still a source of entertainment for some people.
“I’ve been in Peshawar for the past seven days. I was feeling weary so I came here to watch a film to kill the time,” Akbar Ullah, who belongs to the Kohat district, told Arab News.
“The beauty of watching a film is only at the cinema,” Hameed Khan, a regular Pashto film viewer, said.
“Movies were simple in our times. People came to watch our films with great enthusiasm. But after the 1980s the whole society became extremist, which also affected our film industry,” another film viewer told Arab News.
Faqeer Hussain, another manager who works at Naz cinema in Peshawar, said: “It takes at least three months to make a Pashto film. We are trying to put new story ideas, but that needs investment.”
Despite some challenges Shahid Khan is optimistic that his film will attract “a good crowd at Eid as usual.”