Indo-Pak Film Distribution/Consumption Case StudyPresentation Transcript
Global Film – Case StudyIndian Films in Pakistan L.O: To gain an understanding of the history of Indian film distribution, exhibition & consumption in Pakistan.
Background - concentrate this is the history bit! In 1947 when the British ended their Raj in India, before leaving they divided India into 2 countries, one Pakistan for Muslims and India for Hindus. Pakistanwas cut out of the majority Muslim states of India; so wherever Muslims were in majority that territory became part of Pakistan. This led to an exodus of people – the Muslims in India were told to go to Pakistan and the Hindus in the new Pakistani territories were told to go to India. Much blood shed and bad feelings ensued as people had to leave behind their homes and their possessions. In some areas e.g. Kashmir the border was disputed; Kashmir had a majority population of Muslims but it was ruled by a Hindu Raja who chose to join India instead of becoming part of Pakistan. This has caused a long lasting dispute between the 2 countries. Pakistan & India have fought 3 wars over border disputes – 1965, 1971&1999 Post the 1999 war relations between the two countries improved considerably however, the 2008 terrorist attacks in Bombaycarried out by Pakistani nationals changed that.
The Films & the Film Industry in pre-partition India At the time of partition in 1947 there were 2 main centresof film production in India, one in Lahore and one in Bombay. Bombaywas the leading filmmaking centre of the subcontinent. Lahore was a secondary centre with three studios, and a negligible number of films used to be made there mostly utilising the services of stars and directors from the bigger and more glamorous centre of Bombay. So when Pakistan was created the film industry for this new country inherited the inferior Lahore centre. Many famous actors like Dilip Kumar, despite being Muslims stayed in India and Bombay as they felt that would be more productive for their careers. Thus the Pakistani centre for filmmaking was very small.
Some Comparisons India has a population of 1.1 billion Pakistan = approx 169 million The Indian film industry is worth ….. A year The Pakistani film industry is worth …. A year. India produces between 800 to 1000 films a year (Bollywood accounting for the majority) Pakistan produces about 80! (Hollywood around 500)
Distribution & Exhibition Pakistani films are largely limited to the local market. They have failed to make any mark outside the country & do not have any standing in the international market. You can count on one hand the number of Pakistani films, which gained an International, release in the last 20years. The last one was in 2007 “KhudakeLiye” [In the Name of God] (Mansoor, 2007) & none since then! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sU2xnJF3rBY&feature=related Bollywood films are shown in all over the world; most of Europe, UK, USA, Australia, Russia, Africa, most of the Middle East (released in cinemas in Dubai, Bahrain at the same time as in India) “Tees Mar Khan” (Khan, 2010) managed to enter the UK top ten film chart at no. 5 on Christmas Eve. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYhu8oHtoIw
Bollywood in Lollywood! Indian films were shown in Pakistani cinemas up until the 1959 – when Pakistani actors petitioned the government and protested to have them banned, as they felt they were affecting the popularity of Pakistani films. The government limited their release and the 1965 war gave them the excuse to ban Bollywood altogether.
A bootleg industry of smuggled Indian film videos, laserdiscs and DVD’s flourished from 1965 onwards in Pakistan – so even though the government had banned the films in cinemas, the people of Pakistan still had access to Bollywood through piracy, in their homes and from cable channels. Bollywood films were openly shown on cable channels, they were sold in the markets; Bollywood film music, posters of actors etc. were widely available. Bollywood never left Pakistan in practice though in theory the films were banned.
Why ban Bollywood? Conversational Hindi (official language of India) and conversational Urdu are basically, exactly the same. The two countries share many cultural practices and social values - though of course religion separates them. Officially India considers itself a secular country though 80% of the population is Hindu and Pakistan is a Muslim country. Following the wars Indian films were kept out of Pakistani cinemas because both the government and Pakistani filmmakers feared that the much smaller Pakistani film industry, with its smaller scale films, limited budgets, less glamorous stars, would not be able to cope with the competition from Bollywood. They also feared the cultural imperialism of India over Pakistan, and how this would affect the Pakistani people and their national identity. Remember Pakistan is defined by the fact that it’s NOT India! (India was THE OTHER)
The 1980’s & 1990’s This strategy of banning Indian films in Pakistani cinemas backfired somewhat – because the government couldn’t keep Indian films out of Pakistan altogether, what happened in reality was that the educated, middle class population simply stayed at home and watched Indian films on video. Thus, cinema attendance declined considerably in Pakistan and Pakistani films began to be made for a niche Punjabi, mostly male, lower working class audience, because they were the ones who didn’t own TV’s /Videos so had no access to Indian films thus still saw films at the cinema. This audience wanted to see bloody fight scenes and titillating dances, stories set in rural areas where there was no rule of law e.g. “Maula Jut”, (Malik, 1979) and that’s what the filmmakers gave them. Low budget, loud blood-fests, peppered with sexy-verging on vulgar dance routines. All this, in spite of strict censorship laws, which prohibited any unIslamic activity being shown on screen, e.g. even showing naked legs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bHLAyjt9gU&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXxOIFFzseU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9ZHMrAMvkE&feature=related
The Re-emergence of Bollywood in Pakistani Cinemas. The first film, which hailed the opening of the filmic borders between Pakistan and India, was “Awarapan” (Suri, 2007) it was a joint Indo-Pak production, though the cast and director were both Indian. This was made possible because a lot of Pakistani artists, some actors/actresses e.g. JavedMalik, Meera, ZebaBhakitar, but most singers and music directors, e.g. NusratFateh Ali Khan, his nephew RahetFateh Ali Khan, Adnan Sami, AtifAslam, started working in Bollywood films and Bollywood seemed to welcome accept them. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpdfFim-VMY&feature=related As the borders between the two countries themselves opened and relations improved (pre-2008) the Pakistani government thought it was good PR to allow Indian films a limited release in Pakistani Cinemas so in 2007 following the release of “Awarapan”, 20 Indian films got a Pakistani cinema release all around the country; though exhibition was centred in the major cities.
For exhibitors this was good news (and still is good news) as the middle and upper classes are returning to the cinemas – with Pakistan’s first multiplex cinemas being for the first time since it opened in 2002 (Karachi) being full to capacity. Even Hollywood films are experiencing a rise in popularity in Pakistan as that same audience willing to watch Bollywood at the cinema watches Hollywood too. (The lower working class Pakistani film audience does not speak English!) This is not so good news for producers of Pakistani films, the quality of whose films barring a few notable exceptions e.g. “KhudaKeLiye” [In the Name of God](Mansoor, 2007) has been declining.
Global Media - So what does this mean in terms of Global media? Why do we care fam? Firstly, this case study proves the point that cultural imperialism is relative. We are obsessed with Americanisation because that’s our experience in the West, however in South East Asia Indianisation is just as prominent. India, especially Bollywood (along with the Chinese film industry – also huge) is often applauded for resisting the dominance of Hollywood on home ground. However, this is only possible because Bollywood itself, like Hollywood, is a giant! Bollywood has resisted the dominance of Hollywood but at the same time they have themselves dominated other smaller film industries, more “local” to them. Bollywood has performed the same take over of other Asian countries’ film markets e.g. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, that Hollywood has achieved in Britain – where 90% of films playing in British cinemas at any given time are American, so much so that we have stopped thinking of American films as being foreign.
As often British films with smaller budgets cannot compete with the spectacle that US films offer, Pakistani films cannot compete with the lavish production values of Bollywood films because they do not and cannot make the same gross return.
Secondly, the language ‘issue’ that has been instrumental in the past for keeping Hollywood out of Bollywood, has also helped Bollywood assert dominance over the South Asian film market.
Even among the South Asian Diaspora, a large proportion of the audience for Bollywood films outside India is made up of people of Pakistani descent, and Indian filmmakers are very aware of this fact and often use it to their advantage, making films e.g. “MeinHoon Na” (Khan, 2004) and even the recent “My Name is Khan” (Johar, 2010) which have a strong pro-Indo-Pak friendship or pro-Muslim message. Therefore though on the one hand it seems that Bollywood is this beacon of cultural difference in this age of Hollywood’s global homogenization of film form, in fact for the Asian world (excluding China) Indian films function is the same way as Hollywood, a juggernaught running over all the smaller industries.