It's okay if you can't go to the cinema; the cinema will now come to you.
Pakistani cinema may be booming, but there are still many places that wouldn't have a clue. Cinemas are absent in many cities and towns of Pakistan, but one man aims to change that — in his own way.
Pardey pe Rehne do is Pakistani Cinema on Wheels, a project that wants to extend the life of Pakistani films by carrying them to areas that have no cinemas around and screening them for locals.
CEO and founder Akhlaque Mahesar and his team has taken on the task of travelling to rural areas of Pakistan and putting on a film for the people there.
"We never thought of it as a business. It's just something we wanted to do. Take films to people who have never been to a cinema or ever seen a movie on the big screen," says Mahesar.
Mahesar tells of the first time they decided to go and put up a cinema in Baba Island.
"We went first to scope out the place. We used the local vendors, we wanted them to take part in this with us. We paid them and did our setup. I didn't charge anyone for the Baba Island project."
"We recently started with two shows in Baba Island. We took our projectors and screens and all our equipment in boats. We went to a school there first, talked to the principal and staff and told them what we wanted to do and they were more than happy to let us do this. For the kids, we had a screening of an animated film for the children there. There were 500 kids."
"After that we decided to have an evening screening of a Pakistani movie. We had planned to do so during the time there would be load-shedding, so we had generators in our equipment as well," reveals Mahesar.
He added "For our evening screening there were around 1200 to 1500 people from all over the island who were watching the film with us."
The turn out and response was amazing.
According to Mahesar, "The people loved it. There was this one kid, he was making a video of the film being played on the screen and I couldn't resist asking him why he was doing that. The kid said, 'I've never seen a screen this big. I don't know when you'll come back or if you'll come back at all but I want to remember this.' That's something that'll stay with me. The joy on those faces is something that lets me know I did well."
Akhlaque Mahesar has a different approach when it comes to the revival of Pakistani cinema.
"We have around 40 films in production right now," says Mahesar. "And not enough cinema screens to handle that. Making films can only do so much. Why not get into the cinema business as well?"
"I am from the industry. I make commercials. I'm in the process of making films," reveals Mahesar, pointing out, "How long does it take to make a film? Pre-production post-production, after it all the film is played for, lets say a maximum of 20-30 days. Once a film is off the screen, its lifespan is almost over, especially a local film. Yeah sure, maybe the film will get on TV after it's done with its time in the cinemas but there are so many people who can't see it on the big screen because they just aren't able to."
"We talk of films being for the masses but we only make them for the critics," he added.
Mahesar feels that while Pakistani cinema is off to a good start, there is much to work on, "We'll have to understand we need to do a lot for the industry. We talk about the revival of the cinema. Go ahead, I love that people are making their business in this industry. But we have around 40 films in production right now. And not enough screens to handle that. Making films can only do so much. Why not get into the cinema business as well? Create work for the locals, let our cinema industry rise more than it can right now."
Parday Pe Rehnay Do just had an official launch on Friday with Actor Mustufa Qureshi as the chief guest on the occassion. The initiative has been appreciated by many and Mahesar has an interesting plan for it.
"This is an 8 month plan for now. We have 3 months in Sindh and we want to go all over. Then we'll get out and expand. We want to see how far we can go."