Is the culture of film studios dead in Pakistan?

New replaces the old is the law on which the world functions. Countless old methods of doing things died and were replaced by newer, more efficient ways of achieving better results. The world of filmmaking is not an exception to this law. Cinema has progressed from being silent to having a voice, from black and white to technicolor, from relying on artificial sets to using high-end VFX technology; there might be a new technology in works at this very moment that would once again change how films are made worldwide.

The Pakistani filmmaking scene has had to suffer from a rather slow start in catching up to the rest of the major filmmaking industries around the world. We never had the time to slowly phase out of the old technology and adapt to the new technology. The fact that the past decade of the Pakistani movie industry comes with the caption of “Revival of Pakistani Cinema” means that our movie industry had quite virtually died at one point before it was resurrected.

Is the culture of film studios dead in Pakistan?

There is not much except memories of the glory days of Pakistani cinema when it used to be a thriving industry of the country. Back in the day, when Lahore used to be the hub of the Pakistani movie scene, there were hustling and bustling film studios where movies were continuously shot day in and day out. All the superstars of the country could be found there with hundreds of fans lining up outside the studio to get one glimpse of their favorites in real life. The livelihood of countless people; from spot boys to professional technicians were attached to these studios (Lahore’s Evernew studios is just one example). 

Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. The once alive world of film studios in Pakistan is now little more than deserted ruins. With producers being offered real locations as sets for their films and the desire of authenticity driving away from the artificiality of the sets created in a film studio, the need for film studios has dwindled drastically in Pakistan.

Evernew Studios, one of Pakistan’s oldest and once glorious film studio, lay mostly abandoned these days owing to a complete lack of work happening there. The only customers that the studios usually get these days are mostly for shooting commercials. The six shooting floors are almost always empty and the once jam-packed studios are now desolate.

Is digitization the end of film studios?

It is not just the film studio culture that has taken a hit. The digitization of the medium of filmmaking means that the old film labs, where all of Pakistan’s classic films were edited for the big screen, are now completely obsolete. Because the necessary new technology was not adopted by the industry on time, the Pakistani filmmakers now have to rely on getting their post-production done elsewhere, oftentimes in other countries, as the required technology is not found locally. The now-closed film labs have become no more than trivia related to the old classics of the Pakistani film industry.

Evolution with time is necessary for survival. Film studios and film labs of Pakistan are not discussed much by the current lot of producers and consumers of Pakistani films because they are no longer the need of the time. At least not the ones that Pakistan used to have back in the golden days of Lollywood. Is the loss of the film studios unfortunate? Yes, when we consider the rich history attached to them. But in this time of digitization, there is no point in reminiscing the old times or trying to revive them. 

A final word

Film studios are still alive and thriving in other industries like Bollywood and Hollywood. Pakistan, too, can have that culture of filmmaking back provided it fulfills the demands of the time. A better-built studio and film labs laced with new technology would only benefit the filmmaking scene in Pakistan as they would provide the producers what they need locally instead of them searching abroad for what they want. 

And if all of that is too hard for the industry to achieve, the least it can do is preserve what is left of the film studios as a part of cultural heritage. After all, it is the preserved history that keeps something alive for a long time instead of having it fade into oblivion. And the Pakistani film industry cannot afford many revivals.