Cinema is an extraordinarily powerful medium, much more powerful than television and newspaper. Cinema has been used all over the world to engender positive social change. In our neighbouring India, the film industry has done an admirable job by promoting communal and ethnic harmony, highlighting the ways of corrupt politicians, and pointing out other social issues.
In Pakistan, however, the medium has been grossly underutilised—never utilised in fact—for the purpose. Our filmmakers have miserably failed to do justice with their job because of their lack of creativity. They have stuck to the old themes of love triangle and family revenge without bothering about several other cancerous issues.
As a nation, we need films because 70 percent of us are illiterate and few of the literates like to read. In this scenario, there is a huge cultural void in our country that has made our people unimaginative. This unimaginativeness can be cured by developing a healthy film industry. Without giving convincing movies to our people, we cannot hope to make our people creative. And creativity is what makes a nation prosperous.
We have to give our people thought-stimulating movies. Through cinema we can make people fight against injustice, rebel against the rotten system of governance and reform the social environment.
If we manage to stir the thoughts of the common man through cinema we can hope to achieve some harmony in this country of several ethnicities and creeds, a goal that our educational institutions have failed to achieve.
The recent success of Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s documentary film ‘Saving Face’ is one testimony to the potential of the medium of cinema. The documentary has won accolades from across the world for highlighting a problem that has remained largely unheeded in the country.
Looking at the success of this documentary, one can imagine what can be achieved by making purposeful films. And we must remember that it is only a documentary. A documentary is always less forceful than a fiction movie. Documentaries do not appeal to the minds of the ordinary, non-educated folk. Fiction movies do.
If our writers and directors start making worthwhile films about the issues that the common man faces in his everyday life, there is no reason why our industry should not flourish.
A flourishing film industry will also be good for the economy of the country. In India, the film making industry provides jobs to tens of millions. If we develop our film industry, tens of thousands of our people can also get decent jobs. It will be the same as has happened in the television industry in the last 12 years where a large number of job opportunities have been created.
It is time someone made a meaningful, captivating movie aimed at building a new Pakistan and realizing the true potential of its people.