March 22 would mark an important day for the Pakistan film industry. Two major productions backed by the two biggest channels in the country would be making their way to the theaters.
The two films: Laal Kabootar and SherDil are as different as chalk and cheese in their genre and treatment. However, we believe both these films, and Project Ghazi that releases a week later on March 29, are projects that will be worth catching on the big screen.
While SherDil has backing of film giant ARY Films, the same cannot be said for the other two projects. Laal Kabootar is a realistic crime thriller shot by an award winning director, and its media partner Geo Network is doing a reasonable job with its promotions. On the other hand, Project Ghazi, that released a new well-made trailer, is completely missing from the scene.
While world over, films generally have separate marketing budgets that ensure that the word of their release gets out to the audience, the same cannot be said for Pakistan’s film industry which is still at its early stages. Independent film makers, such as those behind Project Ghazi or Laal Kabootar do not have the same level of resources as larger production houses to undertake a large scale marketing campaign.
In this scenario, it is especially important for the Pakistani government to be involved. In the early 2000s, channels such as Indus Music and later MTV Pakistan and several others created a level playing field for all musical bands and artistes, resulting in a pop-music boom that lasted several years.
The importance of marketing cannot be overstated. Just last year, “Pinky Memsaab” and “Motorcycle Girl” released without any publicity and predictably did not do well. Had there been a proper marketing campaign behind these films, the outcome could have been different since these film had the ingredients to be successful.
Currently there is an absence of Bollywood content from the Pakistani screens, and channels, especially music and entertainment ones need content. It is especially important that the Pakistani government intervene in this scenario and make it mandatory for such channels to schedule at least an hour daily for publicity to ALL Pakistani films, whatever channel or network may be backing them. This regulation, if successful, can later be extended to other channels, such as news networks, which will further give Pakistani films more marketing exposure.
Practically every film has a trailer and three or four major music tracks. Some have even more. All of these can be broadcasted in slick, well-made programs that promote Pakistani films. Behind the scenes, interviews and more material can also be included. However, to start with, simply requiring channels to air trailers for a certain time frame, including an allotted one in the prime-time slot, will greatly solve the marketing related issues that independent and new film makers face.
It is important that the government intervenes as this year about 30 films are scheduled for release. We hope that this article will serve as a wake up call to media personnel and government. We hope with the progress of Pakistani cinema in mind, the right action will be taken in a timely manner!