Pakistan has been undergoing a ‘cinematic revival’ of sorts since quite a while now. At least that’s what they are calling it. During the past few years, the mainstream has seen a dynamic shift from the conventional Lollywood-esque films. You’ve had movies like Bol, Manto, Waar, Jawani Phir Nahi Aani, Actor in Law, Ho Mann Jahan and others.
However, while all this is happening our country’s Pashto Cinema or Pollywood has held its own. In fact in many ways, it managed to outdo Urdu films.
Take this year’s Eid for instance
You only had two film releases from the local mainstream. One was Mehrunissa V Lub U while the other was the much hyped Yalghaar that was thrashed by critics. But lets just not get into that. Long story short only two films came out.
Meanwhile, you had five Pashto films that were screened throughout KPK and Karachi. These included Das Khushi Ba Mane, Zakhamoona, Sta Muhabat Me Zindagi da, Giriftaar, and Gule Janaa. Compared to last year’s Eid, Pashto films did better in 2017.
According to industry veteran actor/producer Shahid Khan, Pashto films have been supporting the entire movie industry of Pakistan since quite a while.
Pashto films are not just popular in Peshawar, Mardan, Swat, but they are also screened in Pindi, Karachi and even Afganistan. In fact, in terms of the number of films produced in a year, Pollywood is well ahead. It has managed to overtake Punjabi films which have lost their popularity over the years.
That being said however, Pashto Cinema is facing its own challenges
Shahid Khan notes that while in the past you had 25-30 film releases annually, now you have half of that number. A pretty significant drop if you ask me. ‘The industry has taken a big hit after the closure of cinemas in Swat and Mardan” Shahid tells Mangobaaz. “Unless and until the government steps in and does something about it, the entire Pakistani film industry will fall, not just Pashto cinema,” he adds. It’s true that small cinemas have declined in number in the past. The mainstay of Pollywood exclaimed that the incentive to create new films would dwindle if conditions remain the same. As a result of which no new films would come out and the public would have to settle for old ones.
“If small cinemas that screen regional films do not increase in number, Pashto cinema will reach its last breath in the next 2-3 years.”
Another factor that has made it harder for Pollywood to thrive is the deterioration of Pak-Afgan diplomatic ties. Afghanistan has a huge following for Pashto films made in Pakistan and these films are regularly screened in Afghanistan. Due to tensions between both the countries, Afghanistan has stopped importing newly released films from Pakistan. Old films, however, are still shown in Afghan cinemas.
What’s your take on this?