Pakistani Movies and Stars
Shaan plays Zille Shah, an unhappily married man belonging to the revered Syed clan who falls in love with a courtesan, Taari (Saima), when she performs in his village. His wife (Madiha Shah) and family straightaway condemn the budding relationship, thereby leading to a conflict that keeps the audience entertained for three hours straight. Majajan took almost two years to complete and it was rumored that it was the Punjabi version of Devdas. Zille Shah is shown as a drunkard, dressed in white and looking very much like Devdas’ character. He is a man trapped in the feudal system but who revolts against it to win the love of his life. If Majajan resembles any Indian film, it could only be Silsila which cashed in on the hype of Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha’s love affair when he was married to Jaya Bhaduri as the characters on screen spoke the language that people couldn’t hear off screen. Majajan has not been marketed or presented that way but the characters on screen are rather close to real people. For the film, Syed Noor has not only provided his directorial skills but has also written the screenplay and dialogue. So when Madiha Shah refers to Shaan as Shahji, telling him that she will not accept his affair with Saima, one can guess who’s talking here; also when Shaan turns around and says that falling in love with Saima is his heart’s doing.
And this makes Majajan even more interesting. Shaan, Saima and Madiha Shah fit their characters like the proverbial glove. The film is a comeback movie for Madiha Shah and she lives up to viewers’ expectations. Shaan’s character has different shades and rumor has it that while shooting for the film, he put the production team in a tough spot by causing delays with his disappearing acts and other shenanigans. But everything aside, he has delivered an excellent performance and one must commend Syed Noor (and Saima) for sticking with Shaan and not opting for Moammar Rana who, one feels, would have killed the character.
Saima is one of the finest film actresses we have and since this is a home production with her favorite director, she seems totally at ease and very much in control of her character. She is stunning as Taari, the courtesan who sings and performs in village theatres but lives a very simple life. She is shown to respect her peers and values but speaks her mind out loud and commands respect. Majajan has already proved to be another feather in Saima’s cap and as a producer she has launched a film that is truly entertaining and beautiful. One also feels that she must be appreciated for stepping forward in the revival of good cinema at a time when our Lollywood is struggling hard to survive.
Ho gayee aey saweir wey-Majajan
Tere Bin chain naeen awnda-Mohabbatan Sachiyaan
Mein jeena tere naal-Mohabbatan Sachiyaan
Sajna we phijee phijee rut aa gaee-Mohabbatan Sachiyaan
Mitti de khidone-Majajan
Ja wey kachiya ghariya-Majajan
Uchaa tera naan-Majajan
Wey toon nere nere was wey-Majajan
Eid ul Fitr is always a vibrant and colourful occasion, The entertainment industry also picks up momentum for the occasion when everybody wants to come out of the house to enjoy. It is thought to be the best time for Lollywood film producers and distributors to release their movies. They are not exactly wrong in expecting a box-office boom during the time of Eid and a high cinema attendance, particularly during the three holidays.This is why cinema owners make special arrangements for Eid, Most cinema owners have replaced old sound system with Digital Technology Sound System (DTS). Ironically most Pakistani movies cannot be played on DTS because the producers cannot afford to use modern editing technology, Pakistani film is still top on the priority list of viewers, if the quality is good. The example is Choorian and Majajan. Regrets that due to sub-standard work of some film makers, the educated and family audiences have left coming to cinema.A regular visitor to Abbot Road and Macleod Road, says he just goes to cinemas to have fun with friends “I never come to cinema with my family because one cannot watch a Punjabi movie with female family members.”Hafeez Ahmed, a renowned writer and film maker, who produced films like Zulam Da Badla and Ishq Dewana in mid 1970’s thinks that in the name of art most of the film makers these days are promoting vulgarity. “Creativity is conspicuous by absence. You can’t bring people to cinema again and again to watch the same subject”.He thinks that before the introduction of gandasa culture in films, people from all walks of the society used to visit cinemas. “Till early 1980’s cinema was the most popular means of entertainment in Lahore. On occasions like Eid, it was a norm for many families to go cinema to enjoy the latest films. But not anymore.”Film makers of the present era do not buy They think money is the key to make a good film these days. “It is right that generally the standard of our films has deteriorated, but creativity these days cannot come without money,” says film director Syed Noor. He would not, however, blame the film makers alone for creating this viewer apathy. “Cinema owners are equally responsible. They should have in mind that people do not like to come in traditional cinema houses. Now it is the age of multiplexes and mini cinemas with modern facilities.”Syed Noor says films of whatever standard would not make good returns to film makers if there are no good cinemas. on Eid, in many cities film makers are unable to find a cinema house for their films. Who would dare make a movie in such conditions?” questions Syed Noor.Nasir Ismaeel, owner of Prince cinema Gujranwala says that he’s spent a lot to renovate his cinema “I have installed a new digital screen and replaced old seats with new ones. But I have not done all this to show a Pakistani movie. I would rather show English films that bring viewers to cinema.”Nasir thinks that in fact Pakistani movies now cannot afford subject variation “because the audience do not like to watch movies on delicate subject. They like formula movies. To change the trend and bring viewers back to cinema government should allow Indian movies to be shown in Pakistani cinemas.” He says that commercial theatre has also has emerged into a very stable industry in Punjab “but the formula film that promoted vulgarity is equally responsible for popularity of commercial theatre,” says Nasir.Mian Shakeel quotes figures about number of cinema houses in Pakistan that clearly reflect the situation of film and cinema industry of country. “Till 1980 there were 1015 cinema houses throughout Pakistan. But the number now has decreased to as low as 335. This figure also includes cinemas of cantonments. In Punjab during the same period there were 780 cinemas but now there are not more than 179 operational cinema houses.” The situation in Lahore is also equally bad: “In 1979 there were 83 cinema houses in Lahore but the number now has reduced to 25.”According to Shakeel 50 per cent of cinemas of Lahore have been changed into theatre “because people like to go theatre, no matter what quality of stuff they watch there. The normal ticket-rate for stage plays is from Rs300 to Rs1,000 but on Eid the price easily reached Rs1,000 to even 2,500. Interestingly, the audience from smaller cities near Lahore, predominantly male, comes to watch stage plays in great number.Syed Noor thinks it is not the time to blame each other for viewers not coming to cinemas to watch Pakistani movies. “Both film makers and cinema owners need to analyse the situation and take appropriate steps.