Indian films breathe life into Pakistani cinemas
By Aftab Borka
KARACHI (Reuters) - It's a busy night at the Prince cinema in the Pakistani city of Karachi with cars parked across the pavement outside and spilling onto a main street.
Movie fans have a rare treat. The Indian film "Race" is being screened.
Pakistan banned Indian films after going to war with its neighbor in 1965 but over the past few years, as relations between the nuclear-armed rivals have improved, authorities have been allowing a trickle of Indian films to be shown in cinemas.
That has delighted movie fans and cinema operators but Pakistani film producers fear a flood of Indian films could mean the end of the local film industry.
"The government must stop the imports. Do you want to make Lollywood a part of the history books?" said Saeed Rizvi, chairman of the Film Producers Association, referring to the Pakistani movie industry, dubbed "Lollywood" because it is based in the city of Lahore.
Pakistan's film industry made about 30 films last year, most of them low-budget imitations of Bollywood fare. With a similar culture and virtually the same language, Pakistani films have been starved of a natural audience in India because of political differences.
At home, competition from Bollywood fare as well as the mediocrity of Pakistani films means that many Pakistanis opt to stay at home and watch Indian movies on pirated DVDs.
Cinemas have been struggling for years and many operators have given up and sold off their premises which have been converted into shopping centers or offices. Continued...