Pakistanis feel local producers need to up their game

Since the release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in Pakistan, filmmakers, whose films released mere days before the Marvel flick, have been on a roll to reverse the clash or prevent similar clashes in the future. The Eid releases, that came out after a two-year hiatus, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, are allegedly not performing as well as they would have, “had it not been for the doctor.”

Dum Mastam producer Adnan Siddiqui, Parde Mein Rehne Do producer Wajahat Rauf and crime thriller Chakkar producer Yasir Nawaz even sat down for an urgent press conference on Saturday to discuss the same. They urged Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to look into the matter and some also brought the issue to social media’s attention. Several are now arguing in the favour of Multiverse of Madness, hitting back at filmmakers for wanting them to resort to local productions instead of being given a choice. Many are also explaining to filmmakers why a film’s success has more to do with its content than its competition.

Siddiqui tweeted on Monday, “Releasing Dr Strange could have waited for a few days. The last thing we need when the industry is finally opening up after two years is some foreign film hijacking our screens and relegating us in a corner. Home grown cinema has more right any day.”

While actor Farhan Saeed held, “In these difficult times post Covid, I stand with all the Pakistani filmmakers who despite all the difficulties, had the courage to come up with their movies and request the cinema owners not to prefer foreign content over local.”

And Dum Mastam actor Amar Khan shared a video suggesting, “Bollywood films were banned in Pakistan out of patriotism. But how strange is it, that Dr Strange was released without any regard for the same? We spent three years making and waiting to release these films and after being released, they had a house full. And only three days later, 50% of their screens were reduced because of a foreign film. Nobody’s saying you ban these films and not give the audience what it demands. But you could have waited, especially on Eid. Our Pakistani cricket team also underperforms so many times but we don’t start supporting foreign teams. We keep rooting for our players. Then why this discrimination with artists and filmmakers? If our films do well, it will benefit our country.”

In response, a user pointed out, “This is the generation of Netflix and Amazon Prime. They watch Breaking Bad, Money Heist, and Stranger Things. We want content that is not related to TV Dramas.”

Another asked, “I know this sounds crazy but have you tried making better movies?”

There was also one who argued, “CCP enforces a blackout of Hollywood blockbusters films to give a leg-up to local films. In a country whose cinema industry has been hammered by Covid, some protections are required. While Dr Strange might help cinema owners, it does not help domestic productions.” But a commentator retweeted another user’s response to silence them, “Delay it for a month and these movies still won’t do any business and that’s mainly because of the content. Nobody wants to pay Rs.900 for a HumTV serial pro max.”

Another shared, “Stand with quality content, not Pakistani filmmakers. Our industry will only thrive if we’re not churning out one Bollywood knockoff after the other,” tweeted a user in response.

While one more recounted, “These producers made a fortune by releasing below par movies every eid. We are not obliged to spend Rs900 on a below average movie just because it has a ‘made in pakistan’ tag.”

More chimed in explaining why the public cannot be “forced” into watching local films. “If there is a better movie then people deserve to watch it. They are spending money to get entertained, they are not responsible for producers’ loss,” they wrote.

But while it is true that local films are not receiving the kind of welcome they had expected, Doctor Strange is not the only contender taking up all the space. Saqib Khan’s Ghabrana Nahi Hai has also been hogging screens and prime show hours, making it impossible for people to watch films other than the Marvel flick or the Saba Qamar starrer.

Nevertheless, here’s hoping quality content becomes the driving force of attracting audiences to cinemas as opposed to leaving them with no choice but to resort to watching certain entertainers.

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