This has been a fairly happening year for Pakistani screens. 2017 witnessed many hit movies in Pakistan – and the “small” screen also fared well, considering.
Could it be because Bollywood hasn’t fared well this year and the desi audiences were looking for better distractions? Many big-starrer films failed to do the expected business at the box office, including Salman Khan starrer “Tubelight”, Shah Rukh Khan starrer “Jab Harry Met Sejal” and Ranbir Kapoor starrer “Jagga Jasoos”. Most recently, the Saif Ali Khan starrer “Chef” and the Akshay Kumar film “Toilet” couldn’t amass the big numbers either. The only fairly decent business this year in Hindi cinema was done by Judwaa 2 – of course, all this is not considering the massive hit that was Baahubali 2. This year’s lesson seemed to be: experiments aren’t always commercially successful.
Six Sigma Plus Pakistan’s production “Punjab Nahi Jaungi”, starring Humayun Saeed and Mehwish Hayaat, and Filmwala’s “Namaloom Afraad 2”, starring Fahad Mustafa, Mohsin Abbas Haider and Urwa Hocane, did bring people to the screens. Punjab Nahi Jaungi did around 40 crores (watch the full review here), which is a great number for a Pakistani audience, considering Pakistan does not have as many screens as India. Namaloom Afraad 2 made around 20 crore, despite various bans across the Gulf region and in Pakistan.
The small screen had a good run too. Though Pakistani dramasphere produces a substantial volume of content, it is often painted and labeled (and sometimes rightly so) as misogynist and sexist, relying on familiar tropes of the weepy woman and the damsel in distress, both of which are obsessed with marriage, divorces ad infinitum. Despite the regular sobstories, the dramasphere managed to break certain barriers. For starters, it is now airing a drama on Qandeel Baloch, the slain social media celebrity who was murdered over honor by her brother in July 2016. “Baaghi” starring Saba Qamar, Ali Kazmi and Sarmad Khoosat, airs on Urdu1, and it charts the rise and the tribulations of the life of a small town girl who is constantly exploited in her pursuit of ambition and a life of financial stability as well as fame and appreciation. Not only has Baaghi garnered appreciation from critics, it has also been consistently bringing in a lot of ratings from the audiences. (Listen to the full review of Baaghi on Patari.)
Another big hit was Yaqeen Ka Safar (watch review of Yaqeen Ka Safar here), that stars Sajjal Ali, Ahad Raza Mir, Hira Salman and Shaz Khan. Penned by Farhat Ishtiaq, this drama also touched upon various social issues. O Rangreza was another hit, written by Saji Gul and also starred Sajal Ali opposite Bilal Abbas (listen to the full review here and an interview with the writer, Saji Gul, here). Mubarak Ho Beti Hui Hai was a drama that spoke about the stigma and the struggle of bringing up girls in a toxic patriarchy and virulent misogyny (watch the review here). Starring Saima Noor, Sajid Hasan, Sabreen Hisbani and Saboor Ali, the play is penned by Faiza Iftikhar and directed by Badar Mehmood.
The entertainment medium in Pakistan is on the rise and despite the failures and moderately successful films, the space for creative expression is expanding and giving way to more content and ideas. Sure a lot of films didn’t do well at the box office (Balu Mahi, Chalay Thay Saath, and Raasta all managed to do less than 5 crores) but there were decent moneymakers too, such as Yalghaar and Mehrunisa V Lub U.
Here’s hoping that the rest of 2017 proves a good omen for Pakistani films. (Listen to a full podcast with Humayun Saeed about the struggle for successful cinema here). The upcoming releases of the year include the following, which may take the lead in box office numbers as well as critical acclaim.
Verna, directed by Shoaib Mansoor, stars Mahira Khan and Haroon Shahid.
Parchi, directed by Azfar Jafri, stars Hareem Farooq, Ali Rehman Khan and Ahmed Ali Akbar
Maula Jatt 2, directed by Bilal Lashari, stars Fawad Khan, Mahira Khan and Hamza Ali Abbasi
Parwaaz Hai Junoon, directed by Haseeb Hassan, stars Hamza Ali Abbasi, Hania Aamir and Shaz Khan.
Rangreza, directed by Amir Mohiuddin, stars Bilal Ashraf, Urwa Hocane and Gohar Rasheed.