Tv Hits, Cinematic Flops

Written by ceditor

THE last 365 days saw a lot of developments in the entertainment industry, the most important being the resumption of cinema culture, even though it had more to do with the success of The Legend of Maula Jatt. The blockbuster Punjabi flick went on to become the most successful film from Pakistan ever, but no other subsequent release was able to match its success in 2023.

While the film industry was unable to bank on the cinema culture revival, the fortunes were exactly the opposite for the TV industry where nearly every channel had a blockbuster up its sleeve. However, the sad demise of renowned showbiz personalities left their fans saddened since most of them were active on the circuit, such as theatre veteran Zia Mohyeddin, TV and film legend Qavi Khan, and veteran TV actor Shakeel to name a few. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to find out how the entertainment industry in Pakistan fared during the last 12 months.

Restored faith in cinema

In an ideal world, 2023 would have been one of those years where the game would have changed drastically for the good, considering Pakistani cinema reached its zenith in the final quarter of the outgoing year with the success of The Legend of Maula Jatt. However, it turned out to be a year when only a couple of films were able to shine because they dared to be different and took a stand against the tried and tested formula that was the main ingredient of the other releases.

It was the year when the two Eids saw a maximum number of releases, and while none of the films managed to register a staggering performance at the box office, a few films such as John and Gunjal managed to outshine the competition. Both the films highlighted the plight of their main leads who were shown to be members of the Christian community, who had to carve a separate niche for themselves to get ahead in the world.

The last 12 months will be remembered as the year of TV hits, flop films, and the departure of showbiz legends.

While John suffered mostly because it was released on the same date as Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One, and one week before the release of the biggest hits of the year Barbie and Oppenheimer, the release of Gunjal was moved by a week to give another film a solo run, but sadly both films suffered because of that move.

The four Urdu films to release on Eidul Fitr featured Money Back Guarantee, Daadal, Dor, and Huey Tum Ajnabi. While on paper they all seemed different to each other — one was a heist film, one related to the Lyari gang warfare, one was an old-style Lollywood flick and the last one was a period film set around 1971 — they all had the same fate and couldn’t recover their finances.

The retitled Kukri was finally released all over Pakistan but the Javed Iqbal biopic had so many edits that it left more questions than it answered. The next Eid saw Pakistan’s first 3D animated film Allahyar and the 100 Flowers of God hit the screens alongside an anthology film Teri Meri Kahaniyan, a romantic comedy targeted at teenagers, Babylicious, a gangster flick Madaari and low-budget movies like VIP and Aar Paar. None of the films managed to impress the audience and it was a sad year until John was released in cinemas in mid-July.

Featuring Ashir Wajahat in the lead, it was a Saleem Mairaj-vehicle since it provided the veteran actor a chance to prove his mettle, which he did. However, his next venture 13 couldn’t do well at the box office, and the same fate followed Pakistan’s official submission for Academy Awards In Flames.

The release of Dhai Chaal (inspired by Kulbhushan Yadav’s capture) was deemed not cinema-worthy by critics whereas Gunjal raised the hopes of the audience with its impressive screenplay, direction, and performances. Ahmed Ali Akbar, Amna Ilyas, and Resham were the mainstays of the movie which was followed by a similarly themed Chikkar which revolved around lynching incidents in the country. Featuring Usman Mukhtar in the lead, the film suffered from its OTT-styled treatment and lengthy duration but did impress those who love to watch Netflix and Prime Video in Pakistan.

TV’s year all the way

The past year would be remembered for the successes the TV industry enjoyed mostly because different kind of content was presented to the viewers. It was the first time in many years that a drama based on Cricket (22 Qadam) premiered as did a young love story (College Gate); Kabli Pulao highlighted the plight of Afghan refugees in Pakistan while Siyaah gave the audience a taste of local X-Files. Jannat Se Aagay revolved around the fake world of morning shows whereas Sar e Rah, Razia, Jurm, and Gunah led the mini-series revival on the smaller screen.

There were plays like Jeevan Nagar (inspired by Prisoner of Zenda), Pinjra (revolved around bullies), Kuch Ankahi and Tumhare Husn Ke Naam (old-styled family drama), Jindo (action serial), and Mayi Ri (revolving around child marriages) which dominated the ratings throughout the year but the most watched dramas of the year were Tere Bin and Baby Baji. They captured the audience’s imagination mainly because of the perfect performances of their cast led by Wahaj Ali and Yumna Zaidi in the former, and Samina Ahmed and Munawar Saeed in the latter.

And then there was Fairy Tale, a ‘Ramedy’ (Ramazan comedy) featuring Hamza Firdous and Seher Khan which became so popular that the second season was ordered, produced, and aired in the same year.

The final exit

As we enter the new year, we must remember the many showbiz personalities who couldn’t make it to 2024. Fifty Fifty’s famed Majid Jahangir was the first known celebrity to leave for his heavenly abode on January 10 due to illness whereas playwright and poet Amjad Islam Amjad followed him a month later. The man behind countless TV hits namely Waris, Samandar, and Ya Naseeb Clinic died due to cardiac arrest at the age of 78.

Veteran thespian and renowned actor Zia Mohyeddin’s death on February 13 at the age of 91 left his fans saddened considering he was active till his last breath in the development of theatre in the country. Veteran film, TV, and theatre actor Qavi Khan also lost his life to cancer on March 6 in Canada. The 80-year-old was not just a popular face on TV but also had acted in more than 300 films during his seven-decade career.

Another actor Khalid Saeed Butt passed away on April 13; he was not just the father of Osman Khalid Butt and Omar Khalid Butt but also served as DG of the National Council of Arts and Lok Virsa, and received the Pride of Performance for his services to arts and entertainment. TV and film actor Shabbir Rana’s death also left a void in the entertainment industry.

May 6 will forever be remembered as the date on which actor, host, writer, and educationist Shoaib Hashmi passed away. The late actor wasn’t active on TV for the latter part of his life but helped shape the careers of many including Arshad Mahmud, Nayyara Noor and Farooq Qaiser to name a few. Another big name in the entertainment industry Yousuf Kamal aka Shakeel also bid farewell to his friends, family, and fans on June 29, leaving a legacy of hit dramas like Zer Zabar Pesh, Shehzori, Uncle Urfi, Aangan Terha, Ankahi, Uroosa, and Chand Girhan behind him.

The year ended with the death of actress Nausheen Masud to cancer and veteran actor Nisar Qadri who played memorable characters during his career which spanned over 50 years. He was last seen in Shaan Shahid’s film Zarrar in a supporting role and will forever be remembered for his famous catchphrase ‘Maachis hogi aap ke paas’.

Omair Alavi – Dawn

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