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Javed Shaikh: Pakistani film industry is struggling, but will revive

Pakistani actor Javed Shaikh on Thursday expressed his confidence that his country’s moribund movie industry will see a strong revival.

“Our Pakistani movie industry is like a new born baby and it’s emerging as a strong individual day by day by taking new turns and making new films. Recently I saw films such as Waar and Zinda Bhaag release internationally and that’s a good sign,” said Shaikh at a press conference in Dubai. He was due to attend the special screening of his sports drama Main Hoon Shahid Afridi on Thursday night at the Grand Cineplex.

Like most Pakistani films, it‘s international release was also delayed. Six months ago, the film which is about a face-off between a team of misfits and established champions saw robust box-office success in Pakistan.

Main Hoon Shahid Afridi is like a wave of fresh air which will herald new kinds of cinema,” said Shaikh. His next project is a violent love story that will be partly filmed in Dubai.

“I am planning a co-production with India. It’s about India and Pakistan but it’s going to be a positive story that will appeal to both countries,” said Shaikh, who is against the idea of bashing up their neighbouring rival India to gain eyeballs. Recently, Shaan’s espionage blockbuster Waar was criticised for vilifying India. He believes that copying Bollywood wouldn’t help their cause either.

“Indian films are 1000 times better made films. Our budgets are different. For instance, a Dhoom 3 budget is massive, there’s no competing. We can’t make movies on that scale, but we are attempting to make good films on a small budget.”

One such success story is Main Hoon Shahid Afridi, claims actor and producer Humayun Saeed.

“It’s Pakistan’s first sports drama. Initially, the distributors in Pakistan weren’t confident about its success. But when they saw the interest in the movie, their confidence increased. Many have already seen the pirated version, but I am confident that they will enjoy watching it in theatres. After all, there’s something magical and different about watching a clear print on a big screen,” said Saeed.

The Pakistani film industry has been languishing for decades and has been crippled by piracy and lack of funds for film-makers.

So has cricketer Shahid Afridi seen the film? “Yes he has seen it. He enjoyed the film and said it was a good effort. But he also told me to make films the way English films are made,” said Saeed alluding to Hollywood films and its slick standards.

Produced by ARY Films, Main Hoon Shahid Afridi is playing in the UAE cinemas this weekend.