There have been many commentaries about how filmmakers need to set aside their insecurities and begin to schedule film releases throughout the year rather than just during the Eid season
But unexpectedly, a lot has changed over the past month and now, there is a chance that most local films will not release at all this Eid-ul-Fitr, which will be taking place at the end of April.
Many cinemas were closed and still waiting for the situation of the country to get stable due to the pandemic COVID19 and how it will be managed.
Under normal circumstances, a slew of Pakistani films were scheduled to cluster around the upcoming Eid; among them were the much-hyped long-awaited The Legend of Maula Jutt (TLOMJ) and Urwa Hocane’s production debut Tich Button. Adnan Siddiqui’s production debut Dum Mastum, Abdul Khaaliq Khan’s Lafangey and Rehbara, starring Ahsan Khan and Ayesha Omar.
Now, though, filmmakers are adopting a ‘wait and see’ stance. TLOMJ’s producer Ammara Hikmat outlines, “As of now, we are on schedule for the Eid release because it’s difficult to predict how things will shape up. It’s quite a testing time for everyone. We hope that this ever-shifting situation gets controlled worldwide and everything goes as per plan. No one wants to risk the health and safety for people for the sake of entertainment.”
There are chances that if TLOMJ, should it release on its original end April release date, would not be able to cash in on the international audience, including China, quite as well as it hopes.
Other filmmakers have also backed away – or are contemplating backing away – from an Eid release. Faisal Qureshi who is going to be making his directorial debut with the multi-starrer comedy Money Back Guarantee decided to change the date even before the corona pandemic broke loose.
The government has ordered cinema halls across the country to remain closed until the 5th of April.
But still it’s not confirmed that either it will be open after this date or not.
It isn’t a good time for Pakistan’s fledgling barely surviving film industry. Then again, it isn’t really a good time for any business at all. The Corona pandemic is a health threat but a major side-effect of it continues to be the massive economic downturn that it has leashed over the world.
And all one can do is wait for these terrible times to be over. But will the shaky economies of local films manage to survive the economic strains? Will there still be enough screens available in Pakistan once the virus’ outbreak is over? One can’t be sure.