The revival of Pashtu cinema in KP

: Photo By News Lens Pakistan / Izhar Ullah
A view of the Pashtu movie posters outside the Arshad cinema at provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Peshawer. Photo by Izhar Ullah/News Lens Pakistan

PESHAWAR: The improved security situation in KP has finally begun to bear fruits. For the first time in the last one and a half decade, people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa could decide about the recreational activities for themselves and for their families. Even going to cinema had become a chore and liability.

Thirty-year old Qaisar Ahmed, a resident of Mardan, still remembers the deadly attack on Shama Cinema that killed 14 people on February 14, 2014. The cinema had been closed since then and opened this year on Eid-ul-Fitr

“The number of cinemagoers in KP has gone up to 50 percent in the last one year,” says Fayaz Ahmad, a Peshawar based Pashtu film producer.

Pashtu cinema saw its peak during 1970-80. Eminent Pashtu writers, producers, directors, actors and actresses had given Pashtu films a prominent place in the world of cinema. Pashtu films were shown throughout the country before the industry crumbled due to terrorism and the dearth of investors. As the situation changed so did the quality of the Pashtu cinema.

According to Sher Alam Shinwari, a senior cultural analyst, late 70s was an amazing era for the emerging Pashtu film industry. He recalls that visitors from Afghanistan and other areas of Pakistan would never leave Peshawar without watching Pashtu films. But he laments over the deliberate deterioration of the film industry set-in by Ziaul Haq. However, in 80’s, says Shinwari the standard of Pashtu movies fell to a level where obscenity became the only creative aspect of Pashtu cinema. Those movies he says had no resemblance to Pashtu culture.

In the wake of Zarb-e-Azb, a hope of the revival of Pashtu cinema has reignited. But unless the government takes the ownership of cultural issues and supports the fledgling industry nothing positive will come out of it.

There are 10 cinemas in Peshawar out of which two have been reopened and at least seven Pashtu films had been released on Eid-ul-Fitr

Musafar Khan, who runs a state-of-the-art production house in Peshawar, told News Lens Pakistan that due to improved law and order situation his business has taken off to a good start.

“I had almost shut down my business, while the production of films had dropped to a near zero due to terrorism and other law and order situation in KP,” Khan said, adding the situation is now far better.
Arshad Hussain, a senior Pashtu film actor, however, does not see the improved security situation the only cure for the ailing Pashtu film industry. He believes that the producers and the directors have to go extra miles to produce quality films and to bring the true cinema lovers back to the big screen.

The former Awami National Party’s government had been able to get a cultural policy passed from the KP provincial assembly but failed to implement it. Since the party was in the crosshair of terrorists’ attacks because of its progressive and liberal approach, they had to lay off the vigour required to bring the policy to light. Even the present government is still struggling in this respect.


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