After having enjoyed a wide range of Turkish dramas, Pakistani audiences have now been fascinated by Turkish cinema. Almost 45 movie theatres screened the first Turkish film Miracle in Cell no. 7 which was released under the banner of HKC entertainment.
This is the second Turkish movie that is being released in Pakistan after the release of “Mohabbat Ek Ittifaq” in 2014. Another movie called ‘Bear Witness’ based on the Khilafat Movement of the 1920s (when Muslims of sub-continent helped the Turkish nation) will hit theatres in March this year.
But the one question that begs an answer is can Turkish movies or any other movies fill the vacuum created by Bollywood?
India and Pakistan have had a tumultuous relationship when it comes to movies. Indian movies were banned for the first time by General Ayub Khan in 1965. The woes exacerbated during the rule of Zia ul Haq who raised tariffs and imposed strict censorship to virtually halt growth of cinemas in Pakistan.
The result was closing of almost 700 single-screen cinemas and Pakistani audiences were left with only daily soap operas to watch.
However, General Pervez Musharraf reversed the ban in 2006 and within a few years, 35 multiplexes shot across the country with 100 more being built. And just as Pakistani audiences were being treated to a lot of Indian films, Bollywood was once again banned after India retaliated against Pulwama terror attack.
In fact, a lot of Pakistani youth continue to watch Indian movies on DVDs or online or by getting pirated content. The love and influence of Bollywood moves is such that film distributor say that eventually, Imran Khan Government will have to lift the ban on Indian cinema.
Generations of Pakistanis have grown up watching Bollywood movies which have been popular since the era of Dilip Kumar in the 1950s to the present era of Shah Rukh Khan, and despite numerous efforts to introduce movies from other countries, Bollywood still remains the primary choice of cinema-goers in Pakistan.
Among the top searched words in 2017 post the ban on Indian movies were Dangal, Raees and actor Rishi Kapoor while The Kapil Sharma show was the second most searched news item in Pakistan.
Pakistani film critic Usman Ghafoor agrees that Bollywood movies are loved by one and all in Pakistan. “The Pakistani film industry wasn’t there when the multiplexes began to mushroom. It was Bollywood and Hollywood that helped get the audience back in theatres,” he said.
He added, “Bollywood is huge in Pakistan — even when the Indian films were banned in the theatres or they weren’t officially allowed air time on TV channels, the cable owners would air them secretly because the customers demanded it. For us, Bollywood is the staple diet.”
Whether Pakistan is able to fill the void of Indian cinemas by Turkish movies only time will tell but one thing is sure their love for Indian cinema will never cease.