Writing and Communication (SS100-S4)
Cinemas are being used by various developed countries to arouse awareness among people about the social and ethical issues that those countries face. Some states also use cinemas as a platform to announce their manifestos. Suppose a government makes the most of its cinema. In that case, it can easily eradicate problems that the contemporary society faces, such as honor killings, infanticides, terrorism, corruption, dowry, kidnapping, and rape by making films on these issues and then screening them to give the audience a moral lesson and completely nip these evils from their roots (Phull). Studies show that “watching a brief clip of moderately violent scenes can increase feelings of hostility, and did so in an audience that had not been provoked in any way” (Anderson 175). Thence, showing that movies affect the human psyche, so, if used correctly, movies can bring meaningful changes. By cinema, one means the production of films or movies as an art or an industry. Thus, cinemas serve as a medium to convey one person’s or a group’s message to a much larger group of people across the world. The United States cinema - Hollywood, Indian cinema – Bollywood, and Pakistani cinema – Lollywood is among the world's most renowned cinemas. This paper focuses on Pakistani cinema, which is nicknamed Lollywood because of the Lahore film industry. This paper has the function of illustrating that the Pakistani cinema is indeed in the process of revival after its demise. The audience intended is anyone who is somehow related to the films, whether he is a director, a producer, an actor, or an average person who gets entertained by any movie and is affected by them. Although critics say that the revival of the Pakistani cinema has been made possible because of the sole reason of the publicity of movies in social media, however, the quality of the film as evident by movie reviews as well as the revenues made by the film at the box office are the real factors which show that Pakistani cinema has indeed revived.
At first, Pakistan's cinema was soaring since independence from 1948. Teri Yaad, considered the first-ever Pakistani feature film had hit the cinemas, to 1979, when the fantastic action movie, Maula Jutt, debuted and became an instant classic. This was when the industry was in the hands of great actors and actresses like Noor Jehan, Sultan Rahi, Waheed Murad, Syed Kamal, and many more. This era is remembered as the golden era of Pakistan. Some awe-inspiring movies of the golden age were Armaan, Zinda Lash, and Maula Jutt. Armaan was released in 1966, and it "broke all previous records of receipts and claimed its place as the first platinum jubilee movie of Pakistan” (Ahmad and Khan 45). Zinda Lash was released in 1967 and was the first of its kind horror movie in Pakistan. The acting, costumes, choreography, visual effects were so good that “a woman was reported to have died of a heart attack in Gujranwala” (Khan and Ahmad). The other top-notch movie at the end of the golden era is Maula Jutt, which was shown to audiences when the legacy of Pakistani cinema crashed down because of the vulgar films made at that time – changed the parameters of Lollywood for good (Khan).
According to primary research conducted regarding Sultan Rahi and Maula Jutt, out of 186 responses, about 81.2% of people said that they know who Sultan Rahi was, and 88.7% people responded that they had heard of Maula Jutt even though 65.6% people responded that they had not seen Maula Jutt. This survey was filled by the youth of today showing that even though Sultan Rahi and Maula Jutt were in the 1970s, yet, they are so famous and perfect that people know who Sultan Rahi was and how good Maula Jutt was even though they have not watched it by themselves but have heard about it. Coming towards the downside of Pakistani cinema, there is no rise without a fall, and so did happen with the Pakistani cinema. The Pakistani cinema started its way down since the separation of East Pakistan in 1971, which turned out to be a severe blow to the film industry, causing the film markets in Karachi and Lahore to lose a significant chunk of market and investments because when East Pakistan parted away, all the Bengali actors and actresses also left resulting in a decreased number of good actors and actresses in Pakistan. After 9/11, Pakistan's fading political situation led to a further reduction in cinema halls in public places, and cultural activity has come under battering from reactionary clerical forces promoting fundamentalist values. Also, there was an increase in the sum of terrorist and drone attacks in Pakistan, so people hesitated to go to public places, including cinemas. Thus, resulting in a less influx of audiences in cinemas, which reduced revenues for the films, which demotivated filmmakers to produce and direct more decent quality movies. So, they started to make movies where they used women to promote vulgarity as “the portrayal of women in this era was an object of desire and sensuality for the audience” (Daudpoto). This changed the movie audience from once families to only male adults because this was the only idea they thought of increasing their revenues, which proved beneficial but only for a brief period. Also, Zia’s draconian censorship laws were catastrophic. He canceled all censor certificates issued before martial law and instituted a draconian regime which stands to this day, banning films that impair accepted moral standards or hurt national sentiments. However, at the same time as Zia’s censorship laws, there were advancements in technology, and the videotape recorder came in Pakistan, which transfigured cinema. People started preferring to watch movies at home rather than spending a considerable amount of their money by going to cinemas with their beloved ones. Also, because of the vulgar content, people preferred to watch movies at home and not go to cinemas with their families, which had a catastrophic effect on Pakistan's film industry, ultimately resulting in Pakistani cinema (Khan and Ahmad). Furthermore, according to the results of primary research conducted on the movies which were released during this period, out of 131 responses, 74% people responded that they have not watched or heard of Mujhe Chand Chahiye, 66.4% people responded that they have not watched or heard of Ghar Kab Aao Gay and 65.6% people responded that they have not watched or heard of Deewane Tere Pyar k which shows that how badly these movies failed as compared to the likes of Maula Jutt, Armaan and Zinda Lash.
The word revival means an improvement in someone or something's condition, strength, or fortunes. The term revival refers to the fact that something is improving from its previous states. By reviving Pakistani cinema, one understands that once the Pakistani cinema had its prime time, it suffered a demise. Now, there are improvements in the conditions of the Pakistani cinema. Now, the question arises how can one justifiably say that the Pakistani cinema has indeed revived? The response to this query is very straight forward, but most people ignore these simple answers. If one looks at the new Pakistani movies' revenues, one would easily comprehend that indeed the Pakistani cinema is reviving.
A lot of movies have been released in Pakistan recently, such as Waar, Bol, Actor In Law, Jawaani Phir Nahi Aani, Janaan, Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai, Mah e Mer, Maalik, etc. and they all were so spectacular that they earned record-breaking revenues on their opening days. Jawaani Phir Nahi Aani, released in 2015, made the most revenue on its opening day insofar, i.e., 2.07 crore. Actor in Law, written in 2016 made the second-highest revenue on its opening day, i.e., 1.65 crores. Then, there are movies such as Janaan, which caused a record profit of 1.04 crore on its opening day, and Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hay made revenue of 0.75 crores on its very first day in cinemas (Munshi). Both these movies were released in 2016. One should remember that these are the revenues made by these movies on just their first day at cinemas, and by now, every single one of these movies has made revenues of millions. Such significant gains made by these movies incentivize the movie makers to make as many movies as possible because now is the time to do so. The time is now because recently, the Pakistani government has lowered the entertainment tax, which draws investors' attention to building more cinemas. Thus, the government's lowering of entertainment taxes has proved very beneficial to the investors, cineplex honors, and the movie makes. Investment in cinemas increases the number of cinemas in Pakistan, allowing the movie makers to make more movies as their movies will have more screen timings, leading to more significant revenue at the end of the day. Also, “Pakistani filmmakers will no longer go to neighboring countries to promote their films as the opportunity to screen their films with modern equipment is now available right here” because of the new cinemas (Hussain). It can be argued that the substantial revenues made by Pakistani films today as compared to the marginal profits made during the film industry's slump are a strong indicator that the Pakistani film industry has indeed revived.
By ignoring everything, critics say that although one can see that the Pakistani cinema has indeed revived because of the turnout, revenues, and screen timings of current movies, however, this is just because of the social media or social websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp, etc. on which hype is created regarding upcoming movies that this movie is this good, it has these features, it is of this genre, these stars are in action, along with some spoilers too to create an urge among the users of social media to watch these movies. In turn, these users tell these things to their friends, which say to their friends, and thus a chain is created that promotes the film, which is why the Pakistani cinema is currently earning such significant revenues. One can perceive this as a publicity tactic by the moviemakers, and it has lately proved to be a good one. Once a hype is created on social media, people are more likely to go to cinemas to watch these movies with their families and friends by buying tickets, which are the primary source of revenues for these movies, in fact, for every film. In the discount of this argument, if social media is the sole cause of the success of the film, which in turn directs towards being the cause of the revival of Pakistani cinema, then every movie there is which is released must earn millions of dollars, but this is not the case when one comes down to the facts. Almost 684 films are released on average per year in the United States, or one can say in Hollywood and only 63 movies on average per year cross the $50000000 milestone (Hanson). And these are the facts for only Hollywood; if we combine the number of films released on average per year of Hollywood, Lollywood, and Bollywood, the figures will be much more significant. Still, the success ratio of movies remains the same. Thus, if social media is the reason behind the film's success, every movie should be a blockbuster because almost every movie is discussed on social media, whether it is a hit or a flop. However, this is not the case; only a small proportion of the movies taste success not because of the promotions on social media, but because of their quality, which includes everything from the acting to the costumes, from the choreography to the dancers, from the lyrics to the songs, in short, everything. Talking about Lollywood's situation, hundreds of movies are released every year, but only some manage to hit the box office. The successful film is not because of social media; it is because of their quality. Some people also argue that Pakistani movies use cheap tactics such as item numbers in some recent movies, namely Na Maloom Afrad, Jalaibee, and Karachi, say Lahore. Still, these songs are justified as these are what people want to see, and these are the things they are paying for, as argued by most of the contemporary directors. Although this is not entirely justified as Pakistan is an Islamic state, Pakistani cinema needs to do some work on these things(Raza). So, these sorts of things are justified for now because this is from where Lollywood is going to learn shortly, and hopefully, it will be able to improve further.
It is in the innate nature of humanity to criticize everything it comes across. By the passage of time, this critiquing nature has found its way to movies too. During the golden era of Pakistan, the world was not advanced enough to gather all the statistics and numbers; thence, no one ever critiqued on or reviewed a movie, whether it was a movie made in Hollywood, Bollywood, or Lollywood. But during the demise of Pakistani cinema, people started to write reviews on movies released in the same period in Bollywood or Hollywood. Still, none of them bothered to write reviews on Pakistani film because all the Pakistani films produced at that time had one thing in common, i.e., vulgarity. So, even if anyone tried to review the movies, they would end up with the same review for all the films made throughout that period that they were very vulgar because there was nothing innovative back then in Pakistani cinema, only one type of movie – the action film – was being produced and nothing new. However, today, the whole situation has changed. Several movies are being made these days, from comedy to film that raising voice against social issues. The quality of films produced nowadays is evident from the fact that a single movie has hundreds of reviews. This shows how much good movies are being made in Pakistan, indicating that the Pakistani cinema has indeed revived. For example, a study of Bol, released in 2011, states that the director focuses on the countrymen's domestic concerns, their community, and by large humankind. The film primarily highlights the bitter reality of our society about male dominance and the reproduction of human beings without proper planning. The director never talks about Zainab's failed marriage, but there was so much more in the movie that no one bothered to know about it (Malani). Reviews on Khuda Kay Liye, another Pakistani masterpiece released in 2007, say that it explores “certain fundamentalist’s false beliefs circling Islam and the state of Muslims in today's contemporary modern society. The film also dwells into the state of Muslims living abroad post the 9/11 attacks.” (Zacharia). Similarly, Actor In Law is one of the masterworks of Pakistani cinema, which was released in 2016. Reviews about Actor in Law say that “Actor In Law dares to question many of the social vices in our society and does so with finesse while keeping the comic element intact” (Awan). These reviews clearly show that today, Pakistani cinema is doing nothing but spitting out masterpiece after masterpiece. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy is a Pakistani short filmmaker, and in recent years, she has been able to pull out 2 Oscars because of her documentaries, namely A Girl In The River and Saving Face, which focuses on creating awareness about social issues of today, especially in tribal areas (Khalil). Although one may feel that making documentaries is a piece of cake, however, “working on documentaries can be a demanding process, and in the excitement, it is all too easy to overlook the ethical dimension which comes into play when real people are represented on the screen” (Holland 172), and Sharmeen overcame this hurdle very well. This shows how much the quality of Pakistani films has enhanced. So, it would not be wrong to say that Pakistani cinema has indeed been able to revive completely after its demise.
Concluding all the above discussion, one cannot simply ignore the fact that at once, Pakistani cinema was at its prime time and was soaring as most people recall that time by calling it the golden era of Pakistan. But, there came the downfall of Pakistani cinema due to several reasons, and the cinema lost its charm because there were only vulgar movies prevalent there. But now, one can see that Pakistani cinema has indeed gone through revival because of the quality of films made today and its revenues nowadays. Also, grabbing two Oscars is an accomplishment for the Pakistani cinema. That the Pakistani cinema has indeed revived because of the statistics, the quality, and the applause they are getting from their audience. Critics argue that success is because social media is not real and is nothing but a false claim. The revival is possible because of the hard work of the people associated with the Pakistani cinema. So, it would not be wrong to say that Pakistani cinema has indeed revived.
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