Mughl-e-Azam, a rare classic movie produced by the
Bollywood movie makers in early sixties had superbly enthralled people
of the subcontinent and hit across the densely inhabited part of the
globe. It now set to re-appears once again on silver screen to stir
the imaginations after a gap of 45 years.
Originally, a black and white movie brought to life
the legend of the flopped romance of the 16th century Mughal crown
prince Saleem (Dilip Kumar) and the gorgeous court dancer Anarkali (Madhubala),
carving indelible marks on the hearts of the cine-goers.
Advanced technology of today has enabled the
producers to give a fresh complexion to the immortal classic by
putting colors in the movie which has started to incite millions of
nostalgic fans with irresistible urge to watch the reminiscence to
recall and live in their youthful days at least for three hours in a
But a caveat keeps them deprive of this opportunity
— a decade-old ban of Indian films exhibition on Pakistani cinemas.
But a ray of hope emerged when Pakistan's Information Minister, Shaikh
Rashid early this month hinted its release in Pakistani cinema
Pakistan has agreed in principle to screen the
movie by bringing the ban to an end.
In yet another sign of warming relations between
South Asia's erstwhile enemies, Mughal-e-Azam will become the first
Indian movie to be legally screened in Pakistan as soon as the formal
approval was granted by the censor board.
President Pervez Musharraf gave his support for
screening the 1960 classic, after receiving a request from the family
of Mughal-e-Azam's director, K. Asif.
It is now up to the censor board when to release
the film. General lifting of the ban has been also in the air
especially since the initiation of the Indo-Pak peace process. But the
most positive hint in this regard came from chairman of Pakistan film
censor board Ziauddin Khan, who said that a summary for allowing
screening of Indian films was shortly being sent to the federal
cabinet for approval.
A recommendation has also been made to permit
screening of other Indian films in Pakistani to give a boost to cinema
house owners who have been facing huge losses, and to help improve the
standard of Pakistani films.
MORIBUND FILM INDUSTRY
Pakistan has banned screening of Indian films after
the 1965 war and since then its film industry had a sole run but
failed to flourish. The industry charm has been declining for the past
two decades as most of film theatres, unable to bear the losses, began
closing down at a rapid pace. In the 1970s, the Pakistani cinema was
dealt with several blows. The local film industry was producing over
130 films a year during that period, making a fair comparison with the
number of films being produced in India.
Many were commercial successes and an audience was
being built. Film industry shrank like any thing. Art was equated with
prostitution and it was frowned upon. The genuine producers abdicated
their role and no investments took place in studios, not any technical
facilities provided besides any establishment of new cinema.
In fact many picture houses built on amenity plots
solely for public entertainment were converted into shopping plazas.
At one time there were 1,800 cinemas in Pakistan and were on the
increase. The number has dwindled merely to fewer than 250 now.
Cinema industry in Karachi and elsewhere in Sindh
province is phasing out as most of the movie houses fast converting
into shopping centers/markets. Out of 204 cinema houses existed all
over Sindh upto January 2002, only 75 are left to run the business
while rest 129 have been closed down.
The Sindh Assembly was informed about fast
vanishing picture houses during question hour last week. Replying to a
question of opposition's Humera Alwani, Chief Minister Dr Arbab Ghulam
Rahim, who also holds the portfolio of Information informed the House
that in Karachi alone there were 97 cinema houses out of which only 34
are in operation while remaining 63 were closed down. Giving details
he said out of total 30 cinemas in Hyderabad 17 have been scrapped for
other commercial ventures.
REVIVAL IN THE SIGHT
Weighed down by costs, poor investment and rapidly
declining talent, the bigwigs of the Pakistani film industry were
pressing the government to allow screening of Indian movies to help
survive the business.
While some old timers were still opposing to open
gates to Indian movies fearing a cultural invasion. Amazingly, they
are overlooking the so-called cultural invasion by going through
endless TV channels. The strong proponents of showing Hindi films,
like film star-turned director Javed Sheikh, however, asking the
government to allow Pakistani film industry to develop strong thematic
and technical links with the Indian counterpart for its survival.
Sheikh, who featured in several TV debates boldly
advocating for opening doors for Indian cinema, argues that almost all
Pakistanis avidly watch the Indian films through the pirated video and
CDs which are released in Pakistan as soon as a new Hindi movie
released in India. In Pakistan, the Indian film actors and actresses
are more popular than the home artists.
The Indian films would be re-censored in Pakistan
and the board would charge a fee of Rs25,000 for every movie. He said
Pakistani films lacking story and quality direction. Unfortunately,
locally produced movies were struggling to survive only on vulgarity
He said the local filmmakers would have to change
this trend. It is believed that screening of Indian films would help
an atmosphere for a healthy competition. This industry offers an ample
scope for good directors, storywriters and musicians to profit from
Indian Entertainment Industry is generating Rs2500
billion profit, which expected to rise to Rs4500 billion by the year
2009. Pakistani film producers could make a better deal having found
such a mammoth market as over one billion people.
There is a huge market of over 100 million Punjabis
living in India, Pakistan UK, USA, and Canada. This massive populace
gives a fair reason for joint ventures, and if the governments in
Delhi and Islamabad leave the artistic people alone, they can avoid
lot of wastage and plagiarism. Efforts have already underway to form
joint ventures. One Shoaib Qureshi, an American national from Pakistan
has co-produced a film with his partner from India. The release of the
film is awaited but Qureshi determined to maintain his pursuit.
"We are putting our efforts to help our dying
film industry and through that our beloved country," he told a
press conference here last week.