With the government set to introduce a new film policy to assist producers and filmmakers, Prime Minister Imran Khan, who chaired a meeting on the matter, remarked that foreign content – Bollywood particularly – was allowed to flourish in Pakistan.
Speaking exclusively to The Current, Senator Faisal Javed, who has worked with the government on making the film policy, said that PM Imran during the meeting commented that the previous governments did not work towards building up the Pakistani film industry, which led to its decay. As a result, there was an onslaught of foreign content that impacted the youth’s upbringing and compromised their moral values.
It was also reported that during the meeting, PM Khan asserted that cinema played a vital role in highlighting social values and national heritage, besides providing quality and inexpensive entertainment to the people. The prime minister, in the meeting, made it clear that the promotion of Pakistan’s unique identity locally and globally, and acquainting the youth with cultural heritage was the government’s priority.
This is not the first time PM Imran has called out Bollywood for spreading obscenity and vulgarity. Earlier in April, PM Khan had said: “I say this with a heavy heart but thirty to forty years ago, you would have never seen such vulgarity in Bollywood. There is so much trash. Bollywood has adopted the worst of Hollywood.”
“This is affecting our society and youth negatively. Drug culture is emerging, sex crimes are increasing because of such promotion of vulgarity. It is important to note that when vulgarity increases in a society, the family system goes down”, the prime minister had said.
Then in September, while speaking to journalist Moeed Pirzada about the horrendous motorway gang-rape incident, PM Khan had said that mass media influences the public and commented that indecent content and “obscenity” shown in Bollywood films has increased sex crimes in Delhi.
“New Delhi has become the ‘rape capital’ of the world due to obscenity in Bollywood,” said PM Imran. “Compare the movies made in India 40 years ago to the movies being made now. Look at the impact of those movies.”
Film Policy to be introduced soon
Sharing further details about the film policy and the government’s plans, Senator Javed said that the film industry will be given the status of an industry and that Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Lt Gen (r) Asim Saleem Bajwa has prepared a very detailed and comprehensive film policy keeping all the stakeholders in mind. He said that the policy will be introduced in the coming months. It is pertinent to mention here that this is the first time such a policy is being introduced. While the PML-N government introduced some incentives – such as lowering imports on film equipment, slashing of income tax by 50 percent for those investing in films – the industry was mostly dependent on individuals and corporates for finances.
Under the policy, filmmakers and cinema owners will be offered several incentives including access to locations. The government hopes to build a soft image of Pakistan through film and promote ‘Pakistaniat‘, which is why it also hopes to make cinemas affordable for the masses.
“We hope that are we are able to promote our country, tourism and rich culture and history through our films,” said Senator Javed.
Senator Faisal also said that plans are being made to centralise the censor boards so that only one censor board deems a film suitable for public viewing. He said that multiple censor boards create confusion for both the filmmakers and the audiences.
Others who were part of the meeting include Information Minister Senator Shibli Faraz, Industries Minister Hammad Azhar, Dr Shahbaz Gill, Zulfiqar Bukhari, secretaries of relevant ministries, SBP governor, FBR chairman and other senior officers.
PM Imran, in the meeting, directed relevant ministries and departments to furnish a roadmap for implementation of the proposals. The premier later also directed Lt Gen (retd) Asim Bajwa to work on a comprehensive strategy to “cleanse” Pakistani dramas and films of indecency and vulgarity. Latest reports have stated that Gen (retd) Bajwa is already in touch with TV drama writers and producers to change the trend of Pakistani film-making from its current Bollywood-style to what countries like Turkey and Iran are doing.
Meanwhile, Pakistani actors and directors including Shaan, Humayun Saeed, Farhan Saeed, Urwa Hocane and Nabeel Qureshi welcomed the government’s initiative and thanked PM Khan and Gen (retd) Asim Bajwa for their support.