The current year was always expected to be a big one for Pakistani films, with a slew of big budget ventures and productions backed by prestigious banners scheduled for release. However, the release timetable saw major shuffling with a number of films such as “Baaji“, “Sherdil“, “Chhalawa” and “Laal Kabootar” releasing earlier than expected whereas what is probably the most anticipated film of the year, “The Legend of Maula Jutt”, was delayed from Eid-ul-Fitr due to producers desiring a better time slot for the international release and the ongoing court litigation factoring in as well. With that being said, the domestic box office saw robust returns throughout the first half, and with restrictions by Indian government barring their filmmakers from releasing films in Pakistan, the local films cashed in fully and many tentpole productions posted solid numbers.
“Gumm” was the first film to hit the silverscreen on January 11 and with the absence of a marketing strategy and offbeat content, the film posted weak numbers at the ticket counters, ending its run at under 10 lacs. The next films to release were “Laal Kabootar” and “Sherdil” on Pakistan day weekend. Sherdil had generated little buzz throughout its production phase but did not prove to be a problem as the film benefitted immensely from regional tensions in late February, resulting in the film getting a mammoth opening. After release, Sherdil generated a decent word of mouth and ended its run with a cumulative gross of about 12 crores. On the other hand Laal Kabootar received the very rare unanimous critical approval, however that notwithstanding, it saw a rather lukewarm opening of about 80 lacs, much of it due to absence of star power. However, the film managed to trend well and grossed under 4 crores by the end of its theatrical run. The long delayed “Project Ghazi” released a week after Laal Kabootar and Sherdil and hauled about 1.5 crores over its lifetime run.
Following a lull during Ramadan period, Eid-ul-Fitr saw the release of Wajahat Rauf’s “Chhalawa” and Yasir Nawaz’s “Wrong No. 2”. The two films sprung a surprise and opened to massive numbers over the holiday period, that despite receiving mixed reviews from the critics. The two films opened with roughly similar numbers and grossed about 12-13 crores over the extended first week (including Eid holidays), with “Wrong No. 2” posting slightly higher figures. However, the Yasir Nawaz directed venture overtook “Chhalawa” following the culmination of Eid festivities, and reportedly touched the 20 crore mark, whereas Chhalawa is hovering over the 17 crore mark. These are excellent figures for none of these ventures were big-budget extravaganzas.
Saqib Malik’s long awaited drama “Baaji” hit the screens on June 28 at the peak of ICC World Cup fever, and grossed healthy 4.5 crore over its opening weekend. The film has showed strong legs at the box office, and has crossed 10 crore milestone at local box office. Due to the massive critical appreciation and word of mouth, film continued its good run till this weekend when Eid-ul-Azha is few days away and the three big-budget ventures, all potential blockbusters – “Parey Hut Love”, “Superstar” and “Heer Maan Ja“, are scheduled to release in Pakistan this Monday.
Other notable mentions: Horror flick “Kataksha” released on June 21 to lukewarm numbers, whereas Sanam Chaudhry-Noor-ul-Hassan starrer “Jackpot” was re-released on January 11 to very low collections.