In 2007, Shoaib Mansoor released his debut film Khuda Kay Liye which brought back the audiences to Pakistani cinema. The film released on 7th July 2007, which surprise, was not Eid but shockingly that film turned out to be the biggest money-spinner since 1998’s Choorian. 4 years later another landmark for Pakistani cinema came out in the form of Bol which released on 24th June 2011 and clocked a grand total of around 12 crores despite not releasing on Eid.
Shocked? There’s more. Another wake-up jolt to the industry was delivered 2 years ago in the form of Teefa in Trouble which managed to gross well over 30 crores despite not releasing on Eid. The question here remains for all stalwarts of our industry that how did these movies even work since they were not Eid releases? Forget for now the fact that they were all blockbusters for their times!
The perfect date?
Over the years we have seen every production house in Pakistan prefers to lock the Eid release date before anything else, even the script, is finalized. Audience and exhibitors crave good movies all throughout the year, but the situation is such that cinemas have had to rely on television dramas during the rest of the year to earn some money. And when they turn out to take a monstrous opening, as witnessed for Meray Paas Tum Ho’s finale, it is nothing short of an embarrassment for the film industry which wants to adhere quite maniacally to its Eid-release mantra.
While it makes sense for weak content and filmmakers to take advantage of the holiday period, filmmakers and actors with solid box office credentials and projects with hype should have nothing to fear when it comes to releasing films on non-Eid dates. However, such is the state of affairs that no one really makes an effort to announce that they are thinking of an Eid release, it is simply to be presumed. Whether it be a recently released teaser of a film or a project which just got cleared by the censors or the big superstar’s next grand production — we take it as a given that practically all these films will come on one of the Eids this year.
Even if only one may have formally announced, we know the rest will follow like a hoard of flies to all that mithai on Eid.
The craze is contagious
Though films in Pakistan have always enjoyed a good opening on Eid, the craze on part of filmmakers to release their pet-project on the date is a somewhat recent phenomenon. Believe it or not, certain stars and filmmakers have actually marked the holiday as an exclusive release date for their projects. Why? Well, because they have always done so, year after year, so now they quite literally own it. The trend gained some prominence across the border when their stars like Salman Khan started to release films on Eid, and now even there, it’s sort of has become the default release date for many. Talk about catching the virus.
Although, Bollywood is small potatoes really given that the grand-daddy of all film industries, Hollywood is now jumping on to the Eid bandwagon, too. Guess what, Vin Diesel with Fast & Furious 9 has exclusively chosen Eid as his release date — so why are we even questioning our heroes and producers? Business decisions are more important than art because that is how it works one cannot use exceptions like Bol or Teefa in Trouble to justify non-holiday release.
Cinemas perhaps can accommodate the Eid craze by running 3 month-long extended Eid-only shows, and close the theaters during the remaining period. Given that we produce about 20-25 films every year, 10 or more films can be accommodated with ease for each holiday, even if that means a single 4 AM show for a non-starrer – I mean, hey, who cares, it’s still Eid!
We urge the Government of Pakistan that along with the national sport, national flower and national animal, a category also be created for national film kabaddi day – errr, we mean a national film-release day i.e. Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha, where practically all the filmmakers can showcase their projects without getting into the usual dangal which precedes each Eid.
With the measure in place, getting your film that coveted Eid-ul-Azha slot will finally end up being less trouble than getting that darned bakra on Chand Raat.
To all our readers, looking forward to seeing you at the movies on Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha! Until then Netflix and chill.
Note from the editor: In case you were wondering, this article is at least in-part satire.