Features, Pakistan

The Death of Shama and Common Sense

Just received, by recorded delivery no less, the latest edition of what must be the only publication that even pretends to be about Lollywood. That Bastion of Lollywood, which has been through the ups and downs and now appears finally to have all but died along with the very sad demise of its last old school Editor Mr. Mohammad Yousuf. Yousuf Sahib was a man I got to know around 1998 or 1999 when I found my self drawn inexorably into the murky world of Lollywood history. Shama was a relic of a memory from the past and I tried to discover as many ancient copies of the magazine as I could lay my hands on without too much luck. Then I contacted the then editor and arranged to meet him at his very modest home in Lahore. He was also interviewed at home for the DVD extras of the film Zinda Laash which was released by Mondo Macabro in 2003.

Yousuf sahib, upon our first meeting, opened up about his trip to Bombay ages ago when he and a prominent Bollywood siren apparently had a tryst of sorts. He had me squirming in my seat desperately counting sheep or anything that would not let me hear his graphic and lurid descriptions of his escapade. He was to repeat this gruesome tale with explicit detail some months later once again. I also survived a similarly pornographic tale involving one of Lollywoods sirens of the 70s, but the less said about that tale the better. Anyway, he was a charming man and sadly passed away a couple of years ago leaving behind Shama magazine in the hands of his son Imran Yousuf who along with the times has relegated Lollywood news to a pathetic page or two while concentrating on Bollywood and rehashed garbage. It is difficult to blame Imran though as there is little to report from an “industry” that is pretty much moribund.

But, to cut a long story short, I just got my shiny new Shama magazine and read the impassioned leading editorial aimed squarely at our new President and “Great Leader” Asif Ali Zardari, himself from a cinema owning family. The plea is a strong and vociferous if ultimately unconvincing one where the author demands a blocking of Bollywood movies (not Hollywood incidentally) for the Eid period. Sadly, the magazine arrived in print after the Eid holidays so even if anyone had listened to these demands it would’ve been far too late. Anyway, this was a plea for protection which seems to suggest that you can hope to force audiences to watch films they plainly don’t want to by simply flooding every screen in the country with them.

In actuality, most people would rather stay at home than go out and spend hard earned money to watch the same old garbage serenading as cinema here in Pakistan. It is wishful thinking of the most idiotic kind to think that suddenly those masses who have been turning out to watch Singh is Kinng are going to turn out in the same huge numbers to watch Wehshi Gujjar te Ziddi Badmash even if they were paid to do so. It’s NOT going to happen and the sooner this small coterie of “ostriches with their heads in the sand” mentality film producers realize that backing away from competition is not the way forward the better it will be all around.

Anyway, just to back up the Shama editorial it appears that a bunch of local film makers headed out to seek out a prominent politician in order to try to block the release of Drona and Kidnap over the Eid period. To be fair Jawed Sheikh managed to delay the release of the Bollywood movie that was scheduled to open against his a couple of months ago – it really didn’t help Mr. Sheikh’s movie which sank without a trace with or without competition. Interestingly, local superstar Shaan and one of the countries most successful (or prolific) film makers Syed Noor were also part of the group battling to put a blocker on Bollywood movies so that their movies can catch a piece of the action. Time to smell the coffee – there can be no turning back the clock to the good old glory days of the past, let us be absolutely clear about that.

The need is for the filmmakers to somehow shock themselves out of this delusional, romantic notion that “our films used to be so good in the 60s and 70s.” Fine, each to their own, but lets face it how many movies from the 60s and 70s released now would run for even a week at cinemas? People need to realize that there is no option other than to adapt or die.

Just noticed in today’s press that Producers Aslam Dar and Syed Noor have filed a petition in court against the screening of Indian movies in Pakistan. They along with the management of Rattan Cinema (Lahore) and Bari Studios have submitted that screening Indian films would destroy the National Film Industry among other things

I would contend that Mr. Noor and Mr. Dar ought to be forced to watch all Pakistani films made in the last ten years as punishment for the idiocy of their petition. What next? A petition to force all earning Pakistani’s to watch one Pakistani movie a week perhaps? This in order to support the “National Film Industry” that produces misogynistic, pornographic, violence and hatred preaching garbage in the guise of cinema on a regular basis. Is this the kind of trash we really do want to preserve? I would contend that Mr. Noor, Mr. Dar and their brethren need to attempt to get their heads out of the sand and see that competition is a part of every aspect of life and in any case protecting rubbish may not be the answer.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi Omar,

    Just read your article THE RIVIVAL OF WISHFUL THINKING in The News and stumbled on to this website.:)

    Im shocked at the audacity of our filmmakers,how can they expect to lure audiences into the cinemas when they continue to churn out garbage with such frequency.

    Bollywood films have lent a fresh lease of life to the cinema houses in Pakistan and we can only hope that this will work like a catalyst to revive our dead film industry.

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