Post Pulwama attack, there has been a blanket ban on Indian content and rightfully so, considering the political tensions between the two countries. Resultantly, cinemas are struggling with footfalls as they’ve almost zero new content to display.
Old Pakistani movies are being played again and sadly, even they are not getting any views as such. Capitan Marvel, which was supposed to be the only saving grace for our cinemas, also could not see the light of the day. In these bad times, it has become really tough for the cinema authorities to line up new content as making big investments in movies is also dicey for there might not be high footfalls, if at all.
What the experts have to say on the issue
We talked to Mr. Nadeem Mandviwala on the issue. He hinted towards the fact that if we look at the situation in depth, it becomes clear that the Indian content hasn’t been banned in Pakistan, in the true sense of the word ‘banned’. He pointed out that all these movies are available on DVD in the market. According to him, the DVD shops can really play a part in helping people change their medium for watching movies. This, in turn, can have a highly negative impact on our cinema houses. He proposed that the government should take steps to regulate all the DVD stores in the country, as now anyone and everyone can open a DVD shop and start selling.
As for the local releases, he said that they might do well if they are well-made, content-driven films but due to these changing mediums, the footfalls at cinemas will go down on the whole.
Here, it can be argued that the DVD stores have been selling movies for ages, why is it being brought up only now? The answer lies in the notion that people tend to go to cinemas for the movies and not so much for the medium. When cinemas stop showing the same movies, audiences have no other option but to get them from the DVD stores, resulting in rather adverse effects on our cinema houses. This change of medium has haunted us in the previous decade too and if it continues for a long time, it will steer the majority of our audiences away from the theatres.
Moving on, another senior personnel from the industry – Mr. Khorem Ghultasab – said that the increased operational costs of cinemas are making it difficult for them to survive. The increasing inflation rates in the country are making it very hard for people to come to cinemas and with no new content, it will be even tougher for the same to stay functional. Moreover, local movies rather than being concentrated around a specific time period (Eid), need to be more spread around.
What should be done?
Keeping in view all the aforementioned points, it is highly important for the government to regulate the DVD stores or find a way around these foreign movies’ illegal sales. Cinemas are closing down their screens at a rapid pace and the only way of keeping them relevant is to restrict the medium of watching movies to mostly cinemas (considering Netflix and Amazon prime are also a norm these days). Indian content, once banned, should be banned in all its forms, rather than being available for all to purchase and watch, in the form of DVDs.
It is also important to notice here that the local cinema has always benefitted whenever there has been good foreign content to support it. The recent non-release of Captain Marvel has proven to be a big dent for the box-office and this will reflect on the two new local releases coming out on the 22nd of March.
Local industry cannot grow without the cinema industry, hence it is important that all the regulators get together to support it, in these bad times.