An indicator that a country’s film industry is on the right track is that the masses look forward to a movie, not merely because of its star cast but also because of the credibility of those behind the scenes. Filmwala Pictures and Nabeel Qureshi are among the rare Producer-Director duo that have won, both the hearts and fanfare of the cine-goers in Pakistan.
In just three years they have entertained us with three blockbuster films that hold the potential to go down as cult favorites in the country’s cinematic history. These films are especially loved because, apart from being a laugh riot, they stand tall among those few movies to have come out of Pakistani cinema that are also socially responsible.
If allowed to create the content that they have been producing, Filmwala Pictures and Nabeel Qureshi could soon become a force as powerful as Vidho Vinod Chopra and Raju Hirani are in India.
However, the question at hand is, will they be allowed?
The Big Ban and It’s Implications for Pakistani Cinema
The ban imposed on Na Maloom Afraad 2 by Punjab government yesterday sets a worrisome precedent. There are at least four distinct ways in which it will adversely affect the struggling Pakistani film industry.
Implications for Na Maloom Afraad 2 Itself
It goes without saying that the ban will hamper the great run that the film was enjoying since Eid. However, the fact that the ban was imposed on a weekend brought two added complications on its toes.
The first is quite obvious: weekends are the lifeline for films. By announcing the ban on Friday, Punjab government struck on one of the most lucrative days of the week.
The second related complication is the fact that courts are closed on Saturday and Sunday and the makers will not be able to seek legal help until Monday.
Why’s the Ban Unfair?
I’ve seen the film and loved it. I can’t recall any scene or reference that was either obscene or entailed hate speech. If anything, Na Maloom Afraad 2 is an out-and-out entertainer with its heart in the right place.
In a light, easily relatable tone it speaks about international corruption and how it trickles down to impact unsuspecting, regular people like us.
Added brownie points for the wonderfully crafted scene, where, at the end of a hectic day Marina Khan’s character lights a cigarette and launches in a conversation with God to protect her daughter and her happiness.
Simply put, Na Maloom Afraad 2 is refreshing. It’s heartfelt. It’s honest.
Are We Trying to Damage Our Own Film Industry?
As a cine-goer and a tax paying citizen then, it enrages me when such one sided decisions are taken without fully understanding their consequences.
For one thing, this out-of-the-blue ban is detrimental for the Pakistan film industry that is still struggling to find firm ground. How is the industry going to flourish when our own government decides to wage a nonsensical war against it?
This ban will also make aspiring film investors to rethink their decisions. I mean it’s bad enough that we don’t have enough screens in the country to ensure a swift return to (a huge) investment; add government antagonism to the mix and see how fast the investors will run!
Finally, this (much like the ban on “Maalik” last year) is a direct attack on our filmmakers’ ability to express themselves without fear of retribution. Arts and culture are finally experiencing a revival in Pakistan after a dry spell that lasted almost two decades! The last thing we need is for the government itself to stunt the growth of this renaissance of sorts.
Punjab Government, please consider this passionate plea to rethink your decision. Allow arts and culture to flourish in Pakistan. Allow Pakistanis their right to entertainment!
As for Filmwala Pictures and Nabeel Qureshi, please keep making the great content that you’re known to produce. God knows, we Pakistan needs so much more of it!