Dying Cinemas: A Victim Of Commercialization In KP


Dying Cinemas: A victim of commercialization in KP

PESHAWAR, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 30th Mar, 2024) Notwithstanding to the pace of commercialization, several cinemas in Peshawar were bulldozed in recent years for monetary gains, depriving thousands of films lovers from infotainment services.

Peshawar, which was once known as the city of cinemas, theaters and artists, have started losing one of its prime entertainment tools including the decades’ old cinemas after it was mostly converted into trade and commercial plazas due to commercialization, mushroom growth of social media and terrorism.

Produced many national and international legendary artists including Bollywood Super stars Yousaf Khan alias Dalip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, lollywood famous actors Qavi Khan, Ismail Shahid, Najeebullah Anjum, Javeed Babar and Firdus Jamal, Peshawar have lost seven cinemas including those of colonial era due to lack of production of new films of urdu and Pashto, high property taxes on cinemas, security concerns, rising trend of social media and commercialization.

As many as seven cinemas out of 15 cinemas in Peshawar were razed to ground including the oldest cinema houses including Shabistan (Firdus), Palwasha, Capital, Falak Sair, Novelty, Metro, Sabrina and Ihsrat - converted into trade and commercial centers viz a viz hotels.

Other cinemas includes Arshad Cinema, Sabreena, Aaeena, Naz and Shama are mostly deserted due to unavailability of new films, high-production film-cost, pathetic seating facilities and lackluster approach of the government towards film and entertainment industry in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

"Whenever I come from UAE to my home city, I use to watch a Pashtu movie at Firdus cinema on every Eidul Fitre celebrations. I am extremely disappointed to see the demolished Firdus cinema where a trade Plaza was constructed, resulting deprivation of thousands of fans of entertainment," said a Peshawari born UAE transporter, Janisar Khan while taking to APP.

He said it was heartbreaking that still no announcement regarding a new Pashto or Urdu film to be released on Eidul Fitre was made. “Peshawar is a home of artists and musicians.  On every Eid holidays, I came to this ancient city to watch my favorite Pashto films at Arshad Cinema after closure of two cinemas including ‘Taj’ cinema in Mardan,” said Muhammad Ishaq (45), a Pashto film lover and resident of Katlang Mardan.

“When I visited Peshawar for my favorite ‘Titanic’ English movie and Pashto film ‘Orbal’ in my student life at Capital Cinema on Arab Road, it was jam-packed. I left with no chance but to purchase an advance ticket. It was extremely heartening that today’s this oldest cinema of Peshawar is no more,” he said. 

Ishaq said that he along with friends was planning to move to Rawalpindi and Lahore to watch some new movies in a relatively better cinema environment there on Eidul Fitre celebrations. Besides Peshawar, four cinemas in Nowshera were also became victims of commercialization and trade, he said.

Shafiqur Rehman, a journalist and resident of Malakand said that he came to Peshawar to watch his favorite Pashto movie as all the cinemas except Swat were closed prior of Ramazan, adding there was no cinema in Charsadda district.

Gohar Khan Yousafzai, manager Sabrina Cinema Peshawar told the news agency that prior of Ramazan he screened two shows daily of a Pashto movie by charging only Rs250 per ticket, adding there are hardly 50 people in the cinema hall which is highly discouraging. He said the rising monthly electricity and gas bills, salaries of staff and property taxes have added to financial difficulties of cinema owners in KP.

Shahid Khan, an eminent Pashto film director, producer and artist said that one of the reasons of dying cinemas was its poor stories content and outdated cinematography, wrong presentation of Pashto culture and vulgarity. He said that a quality film requires around Rs 10 million investment while most of film producers were being asked for production of a Pashto movie at Rs two million cost which was insufficient to produce a quality Pashto movie.

He said Pashto films have high profit potential due to vast viewership in Pakistan mostly in KP, Karachi and Afghanistan. He recalled that when a Pashto film was finally released in the city in the past, thousands of film lovers with beat drums gathered outside the cinema houses and cheered in favour of their favourite hero that was now hardly seen today in Peshawar. "Our cultural values and minimal wages discourage new talent from joining the film industry."

Despite affected by terrorism, he said local film producers and cinema owners remained resilient and kept cinema houses functional even in most difficult times and provided entertainment to people. He urged the KP government to support those who believed in quality work and provide financial incentives inevitable to revive film industry in KP.

“We urged the provincial government to exempt cinemas from excessive taxation and provide better wages to the artist community enabling them to produce quality films like Orbal, Khana Badosh, Alzam and Deedan imperative for knowledge based society,” he said.

Renowned psychiatrist and former principal of Khyber Medical College, Professor Dr Khalid Mufti said one of the reasons for the rising trend of intolerance and violence in the society was dying cinemas culture.

 Terming cinema as an effective tool for nation building and expanding the country’s soft image globally, he said that quality films have the widest impact among all art forms including dramas, stage and theaters.

Pride of performance and pasto ghazals maestro Khayal Muhammad said that revival of cinemas was imperative to promote entertainment industry besides protecting youth from wrong hands.

He admitted that social media have also adversely affected cinemas culture and demanded construction of new cinemas and exemption of taxes and customs duties on films equipment besides jobs security to films makers, producers and artists for sustainable promotion of performing arts in Pakistan.

APP/fam/taj (APP Feature Service)