8 Pakistani films have been released this year. 7 more are waiting in line. This is unprecedented. It is no secret that Pakistani cinema is going through a welcome renaissance. Gone are the days when the production and release of a (respectable) Pakistani film was an event rarer than the rarest celestial motions. Heralding the success of the 'Cinema Revival Campaigns', we are witnessing a time where both the quality and quantity of Pakistani films are beginning to challenge long-ruling cinematic imports.
This surge in quality and quantity naturally makes the market much more competitive. Earlier films had it easy – to guarantee packed halls they just had to…exist. The mere fact that anyone had the courage to produce a local film was enough to weave buzz and anticipation around the production. But not anymore. Excellent music, stunning visuals, intriguing plots and ridiculously goodlooking stars are all vying for the attention of the cinemagoer who, all of a sudden, is spoilt for choice. The moviegoers are not the only party that the movies have to court, however. Cinemas and sponsors are also to be won and appeased. All of this means one thing: you better come up with creative ways to attract audiences if you are to benefit from the rising wave of Pakistani cinema.
Rethinking Film Marketing
When talking about film marketing here in Pakistan, one thing that is glaringly obvious and woefully overlooked is digital platforms. This is 2015 and we no longer need an intimation into the powerful world of social media. Our filmmakers, however, are still not making any significant use of it. Yes, we have Facebook pages and yes they have loads of likes. But, one can only imagine how Instagram, Vine and Pinterest can add to Ho Mann Jahaan's intrigue and appeal, in addition to of course the standard Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo. The idea here is that straightforward, traditional ways of promotion will soon become pathetically ineffective. 2013's Chambaili benefited from a solid digital and traditional media campaign. That it bombed spectacularly is another story, but the marketing nevertheless brought the audiences into the halls.
Interestingly, three of the most promising upcoming movies this year are helmed by veteran admakers – Jami for Moor, Asad Ul Haque for Dekh Magar Pyaar Se and Asim Reza for Ho Mann Jahaan. If they pair their cinematic magic with their undoubted knack for advertising excellence, we can expect a pretty sexy marketing drive around these films.
Festivals and Awards Please!
Such a fertile period in local cinema begs for a credible, respectable award. No, the cheesy Hum Awards and those Lux-sponsored glitzfests won't cut it. What we need here is an initiative whose primary agenda is to promote the art, not corporate marketing agendas. Bodies like NAPA and AlHamra need to take note.
Likewise, a good film festival would do wonders to further the momentum of the local industry. Cue: bring back Karafilm! Or, if Karachi has too much going through its head – which it probably does – Lahore could and should step in with a…LaFilm Fest or maybe Filmhore Fest? Well, the name could be agreed upon mutually but the idea that we need atleast one decent film festival is abundantly clear.
Here's to a great year for local cinema! Keep 'em coming.