Pakistan’s film industry is in its revival stages but there have been a few films that remarkably did good business when screened internationally. Last year there was Actor in Law and Janaan, which became hugely popular amongst Pakistanis abroad and before that, it was Bin Roye and Jawani Phir Nahi Aani. These films not only managed to pull Pakistani cine-goers towards cinema but also helped Pakistan’s film industry establish itself internationally.
This year belongs to Nadeem Baig’s Punjab Nahi Jaungi that has been breaking records internationally, even beating Bollywood films like Baadshaho that has a star cast, a star director and is based on the real-life incident.
Table 1 – UK
So instead of competing in the proper manner, Bollywood uses techniques that are amateurish if not stupid. In many cinemas abroad – especially United Kingdom and Ireland – they have categorized Punjab Nahi Jaungi as a Punjabi film, instead of an Urdu flick or a Pakistani movie. That way, it will only appeal to a selected audience who who know that Humayun Saeed and Mehwish Hayat can’t work in a Punjabi film after Dil Lagi or that Nadeem Baig only directs Urdu films.
Those who will visit cinemas or think of booking a ticket will be put off on learning that the film is not in Urdu, which is not the case. In the list there are a couple of Punjabi flicks – Vekh Baraatan Challi Aan and Toofan Singh – that even sound like Punjabi flicks; categorizing PNJ with them is a crime, not an error.
Table 2 – Norway
As you can see in the table above, PNJ is 9th on the Norway Box Office doing better than many big budget films; however, instead of mentioning Pakistan in the Studio column, the distributors have labelled it as Bollywood and that’s understandable considering B4U are the distributors. However, they could have use ARY Films instead of Bollywood because then, people would have known that the film originates from India’s neighbor, not India.
This is not the first time India has tried to embarrass themselves in international market – the first time relations between the two countries went bad after independence was due to films as one film from Pakistan did better business than a local one, and hell broke loose. Two years back, Bin Roye was denied release in selected states because it was a Pakistani film. Until he was alive, Bal Thackeray ruled Mumbai with an iron fist and didn’t allow films that showed Pakistan in a better light, because it went against their ideas.
A lot of quality Pakistani films including those having Indian actors in them were denied release in India just because they originated from an ‘enemy’ state and that looked bad on India than on Pakistan.
Will categorization of Punjab Nahi Jaungi halt the ascent of the film abroad? It might hit them at the box office but word of mouth remains the most important weapon in Pakistan’s arsenal; the film has continued to do well in Pakistan despite lesser number of shows than Na Maloom Afraad 2 and it will continue to shine despite all attempts from Bollywood to count it as one of its own.
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