“I Sold My House To Make Babylicious”: Filmmaker Essa Khan Suggests 7 Ways To Elevate Pakistani Cinema

Lahore-based filmmaker Essa Khan, who wrote, directed, and produced the film ‘Babylicious’ shared his struggles in an article for Express Tribune, detailing the challenges he faced during the five-year process of creating the film. He revealed that, in order to secure an additional 15 days of filming, he had to sell his family home and part ways with his Bitcoin stash, receiving only $6,000. Essa proved us instantly wrong, as the feeling started to sink in that this was a plea for sympathy, redirecting his focus to shed light on the current state of filmmaking in Pakistan.

The filmmaker, with absolute sincerity, expressed his desire to see Pakistan’s film industry flourish and presented seven key points that advocated for a transformation in the industry.

Encouraging Corporate Investment with Tax Incentives

Essa advocates for a cinematic strategy inspired by Korea, proposing the encouragement of conglomerates to invest in the film industry through tax incentives. This approach aims to motivate corporate entities to allocate funds for film projects, fostering a structured and sustainable engagement.

Focus on Skill Development Over Financial Grants

The article cautions against a narrow focus on providing financial grants to local filmmakers without addressing the crucial aspect of skill development. The suggestion emphasizes the need for continuous improvement in the skill levels of local talent to ensure sustainable growth and competitiveness on an international scale.

Redefining Success Metrics

Essa also challenged the conventional success metrics in the film industry, urging a shift from solely evaluating box office numbers and cinema proliferation to assessing the health of the industry based on the influx of skilled individuals into the workforce. This approach underlines the necessity for continuous talent development.

Ending Film Censorship for Artistic Freedom

The recommendation includes advocating for the end of film censorship to grant filmmakers and cinema owners the freedom to express their creativity without government intervention. Essa argues that this move aligns with the progressive ideals of the 21st century and will lead to more imaginative and diverse film themes.

Reviving Single-Screen Cinemas and Ethical Operation

The proposal also suggested shifting the focus from multiplexes to the revival of single-screen cinemas. This entails government support, leasing land to private parties with profit-sharing agreements, and an emphasis on ethical operation by cinema owners. The aim is to create a more inclusive and ethical cinema industry that caters to a broader demographic.

Government Intervention in Controlling Location Rents

Raising a unique point, Essa advocated the importance of government intervention in controlling location rents to address escalating film production costs. The argument centres’\ around making public places more accessible and affordable for filmmakers, drawing inspiration from the success of the French New Wave.

Shifting Focus to Single-Screen Cinemas

The final recommendation proposes a shift in cinema focus from multiplexes to the revival of single-screen cinemas. Drawing parallels with India’s successful model, the suggestion involves government support, leasing land to private parties with profit-sharing agreements, and ethical operation by cinema owners. He urged that the goal is to create a more inclusive and ethical cinema industry.

It is refreshing to see a young artist so passionate about the local industry and advocating for unique and well-thought solutions to elevate the current local filmmaking landscape. We hope that the innovative ideas suggested by Essa Khan are taken into consideration by the policymakers and with a new government taking charge soon, following elections, we can see a positive change for the entertainment industry as well.


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