The Decline of Pakistani Cinema: The Government, Pakistan Electronic Media Authority (PEMRA), and the Interjection of VCRs, Pirated DVDs, and Cable Channels
Proceedings of the Asian Conference on Media & Mass Communication, pp. 28-46, MediAsia 2010
Posted: 20 Jun 2017
Date Written: October 28, 2010
The film eras of Lahore, the Lollywood, are clearly divided into three: silent films from 1924 to 1934, Black & White (B&W) talkies from 1932 to 1970, and color 1961 onwards. The cinema that survived the 1947-Partition of Pakistan and India was fully matured by the 70s despite the stealing of its talent and intellect by television in the 60s. It is perceived that: 1) Zia’s Islamization shied the audience away from entertainment in the 70s. 2) a process of decay and decline had already begun due to cost cutting practices and copying trends following a reduction of markets for Pakistani films because of the barter policy and frequent bans on Indian films, and the Fall of Dhaka. 3) a process of decay and decline began with the interjection of VCRs, pirated DVDs, and cable TV channels in the 80s and 90s. The illegal broadcasting of foreign films maximized the pace of the decline because of Musharraf’s tremendous expansion of the electronic media at the advent of the new millennium. The audience no longer wishes to compromise the comfort of home viewing of the latest Indian and American blockbusters at minimal costs. The revival awaits the enforcement of the intellectual property rights and governmental support for the production of popular commercial and parallel films that mark the audience division in Pakistan. The low audience turnover caused a steep decline of the cinema industry as compared to the past decades.
The study qualitatively analyzes 122 academic and non-academic articles, film directories, books, and films to assess the incline and decline of Pakistani cinema under different political regimes, tabooed public interest, issues, market, and present status. The study evaluates the relationship between the success rate of cinema under different political regimes and the replacement of Urdu cinema by Punjabi and Pushto films over the decades. The study examines what Pakistani public perceive as reasons behind the decline of Pakistani film: 1) quality, 2) Zia’s Islamization, terrorization, or gender oppression, 3) foreign film piracy, 4) technology, 5) absence of governmental support to provide infrastructure, training venues, and funds for film. It finds Pakistani governments hardly valued film as a cultural industry, or visual currency. Film flourished under Ayub, Bhutto and Zia. However, Zia is responsible for the decline of film as foreign film piracy reached every home during his era, and reached its climax during the Musharraf’s era. Poor planning and policies let pirated foreign film takeover the home window for half a century, without benefitting Pakistani film.
Keywords: Decline of Pakistani Cinema, Film Piracy, Video
JEL Classification: Z19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation