The Pashto film industry aka Pollywood released only three new Pashto movies compared to seven flicks last year on Eid-ul-Fitr. However, great rush was witnessed at the city cinema houses during Eid holidays.
Tickets were sold in advance for the new Pashto film shows. Some movie buffs had to wait for another show while others preferred to watch old runs or stage shows in the cinemas yet a few enjoyed the only Indian movie Sultan.
Peshawarites ran for tickets as there was tough competition between new Pashto movies. Cinemagoers thronged city theatres hailing from parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata.
“I had bought tickets for my friends and myself ahead of a new Pashto movie Raja show. I was successful to grab a ticket of another Pashto film Khair ka Yar pa Nasha ke de on the second day of Eid,” Sajid Parveen, a resident of Charsadda told Dawn.
Three directors Haji Nadir, Shahid Usman and Arshad Khan released one each Pashto movie namely Khair da Yar ka pa Nasha de, Gandageeri na Manam and Raja. The cast of these films included Arbaz Khan, Asif Khan, Babrak Shah, Jahangir Jani, Shahid Khan, and Mohammad Hussain Swati with female stars Lila Nawab, Afreen Khan and Wirda Khan besides the only new face this time around Jia Butt.
She appeared for the first time in a Pashto movie with mega star Shahid Khan. Out of a dozen cinema houses left in Peshawar city, only four cinemas screened new films – three Pashto and one Urdu movie – and the rescreened old runs.
Film-goers expressed displeasure over declining of Pashto film industry. Arshad Jan, a movie buff, said that the new Pashto releases were limited to Eid. He said that Jahangir Jani, Arbaz Khan and Shahid Khan this year too ruled over the Pashto silver screen.
He regretted that owing to decline of cinema culture cine-goers did not enjoy this Eid. “Most young cine-goers these days take interest in stuff available on social media. Short film is a new craze,” Mr Jan added.
Nadeem Khan Orakzai said that he enjoyed film shows despite the poor condition of cinema houses and hot weather. He said he liked the storyline and music of Pashto movies, but complained of excessive use of violence in the movies. “I did enjoy the storyline and music, but why can’t we get rid of violence in the movies,” he asked.
Film buff Arshad Jan regrets that owing to the decline of cinema culture, cine-goers did not enjoy many films this Eid. “Most young cine-goers these days take interest in stuff available on social media. Short film is a new craze,” Mr Jan added.
Superstar Shahid Khan told this scribe that Pashto film industry though in its throes would continue producing quality flicks for its viewers. He said that cinema culture was not on the decline rather producers and filmmakers withdrew to invest their money in the Pashto film industry.
He said that the reasons were obvious as stakeholders, including the government institutions, were least interested to revive the industry.
“Viewers demand, quality music, lively storyline and beautiful locations, while substandard work is rejected at the box office. Music is the strength of Pashto movies. Filmmaking is no doubt a risky job these days, but I shall continue to entertain the viewers,” Mr Khan stated.
With the decline of CD and telefilms production houses in Nishtarabad, Peshawar, the number of Eid releases of CDs and telefilms also dropped. The cinema culture is facing decline for the last few years due to various reasons.
Experts of the cinema business said that absence of powerful censorship board, demolition of theatres, huge taxes, lack of professionalism and insecurity led to slump of the cinema culture.
Nishtarabad once the hub of CDs and telefilms business gave a deserted look during Eid holidays as no customers were seen at the market. A few CD shops dealing in old stuff ran their business, Zaki Khan, a local CD storekeeper, told this scribe.
Muzaffar, director of Musafar CD Production House, remarked that Nishtarabad was no more the hub of CDs and telefilms business. He said that various factors led to the decline of Pollywood and CDs production.
He said that professional artists, singers and scriptwriters had already abandoned the scene. “Different digital devices have dealt a serious blow to the CDs and telefilms production business. No copyright law exists in the province,” he regretted.
A short film titled Facebook released by a group of young individuals gained great popularity among internet users while another Pashto short film Tur Sare directed by Amjad Naveed received more than a million likes. Majeed Khan, a frequent internet user, told this scribe that educated youth didn’t walk to cinemas because it involved a waste of time and money.
Top Pashto singers, including Karan Khan, Shah Sawar, Gulpanra, Nazia Iqbal, Sarfaraz, Ashraf Gulzar and Alia Khan, released their music albums on Eidul Fitr while around 20 Pashto telefilms compared to 40 last year also came out on the market.
Popular Pashto comedian Ismail Shahid released two telefilms – Buda Kaka (old chap) and Roond, Kunr ao Chaara (blind, deaf and stammer). Around 15 CDs showcasing stage shows were also released on Eid.
Ismail Shahid said that people in general loved to enjoy comedy and were fed up with repeated loaded themes immersed in violence and gun culture. He said that they liked light topics and comic acting which made them smile and gave them relief.
Originally published in Dawn, July 11th, 2016