By: Aayan Mirza
O21’s removal from Bambino and Capri cinemas in Karachi, along with Dreamland in Multan has certainly not gone unnoticed, and the distressed O21 team refuses to take it as a norm. For a detailed background of the story, click the following link:
The picture could certainly have been a little different. At least that’s what the O21 team believes.
Talking to a press conference held at Karachi Press Club on the eve of Monday (13 October 2014), Zeba Bakhtiyar, the co-producer of O21, said, that the incident is parallel to humiliating or insulting a girl.”this is absolutely unprecedented, you can’t find an example of it anywhere in the world, it’s like putting a young girl to shame,” Zeba said.
Furthermore she questioned that why this only happened in these three cinemas and not anywhere else, “My friends in press tell me that these cinemas had already decided to not give O21 a longer run…They say bottles were thrown at it and the crowd was on the verge of turning violent, I say well, all over the world, and in Pakistan, cinemas have guards and staff to control such situations. You disturb the environment in the hall or even make a disturbing noise in cinema, they kick you out. Always the mob is thrown out, never the film,” Zeba said as she set the tone for the presser.
Commenting on the opposing argument that the film is in English and it is unpopular with masses, Zeba said, “We have never claimed that it is a film of masses, but so was Waar. We have got Urdu, English, Pushto and Dari in our film and if you travel from Sohrab Goth to Defense in Karachi, you get to hear all these languages, then how come people didn’t understand the film.”
Azaan Sami Khan, O21’s young co-producer and Zeba Bakhtiyar’s son, building a more technical case said that they brought the latest equipment, best people available, best available sound structure for the film just so that Pakistani audience could experience a quality product of their own. “People here still remain skeptical of the fact that both my parents worked in India, but if this is what you do with your own people and their products, they will fly away,” he said as he built up his case.
Furthermore, Azaan called it simply incomprehensible that the people there decided the film is bad in just first 25 minutes of it. “I also watch films in cinemas, by the time film ends I can also tell if it was good or bad, or even by the interval, but who on earth can foresee the film to be good or bad in just first twenty five minutes.” He said in a perplexed tone.
Director of the film, Jami, also reiterated the same point and said that there are always contingency plans with cinema owners, “the film doesn’t fill your halls, you reduce the shows, but throwing out a film simply on roads is absolutely shocking. And as if this wasn’t just enough, Express Tribune comes up with an outrageous ‘booed of’ headline that re-incites the whole thing and it gets viral to the extent of being reported in India. That totally shattered that 70-80 lack tempo that O21 had initially built. We released the film on 40 screens, and this is its 7th day, and the film is still running in 33 cinemas at the moment, and running successfully,” Jami said giving his point of view on the issue.
It was added by Azaan that although the initial tempo was broken, but there are still numerous single screen cinemas that are giving the film per day return of Rs. 2 to 2.5 lac, which is a big thing considering the ticket price in these cinemas varies from Rs. 150 – 200.
Further giving his comment on the language question, Jami said, “Waar was in English too and it was without any subtitles, my film has got four different languages, and carefully drafted subtitles for all those parts, then how come people are raising this question. If bottles were really to be thrown, then Shabistan also has enough of same bottles, why only here then?”
The Assistant manager of the Distribution Club (DC), O21’s distributors in Pakistan, Muhammad Rizwan at the press conference said that his company was not informed when the film got removed from these three cinemas, and that the incident has damaged their image badly. He also announced that DC is thinking of taking a legal action against the cinemas and that they have decided to not give any of their future films to these cinemas.
On a question that why his company isn’t taking their Bollywood film, Bang Bang, off these cinemas, Rizwan said, “We can’t do it as it has an entirely different contract.”
The star lead of O21, Shaan Shahid, also participated in the press conference through a telephone call and said that the screening of a film is just like a newborn baby and those who are trying to deliberately not let it breathe are criminals and deserve a legal action. “I would say IMGC (Distribution Club) shouldn’t have put the film up on these cinemas at first place as there has been a similar criminal history there. But now that it’s done, I believe IMGC should step up and take action against them, otherwise they look accomplice in it.” Shaan added.
Thanking other exhibitors who are still running the film, he said the film has crossed 4.75 crore mark in its first week, and that he is thankful to people like Nadeem Mandviwalla, Zeba and Jami to make him part of this new cinema. “This is only the second year of this new film industry, Waar’s was the first one, and this is it’s second year, let us walk, let us stumble a little, and let us commit mistakes, every new director who makes a film needs your support, the support of the press, media, and those who are discouraging these new filmmakers with their acts must be exposed,” Shaan said in his closing remarks.