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Splurging out on Pakistani films

I must admit: I watch movies to save money and escape boredom

Splurging out on Pakistani films

I have to admit, I have a relatively new vice, and it’s worse than some of my previous ones — biting my nails, buying clothes which are several sizes too small, spending a fortune on fashion magazines, and drinking too much coffee. This new vice comes in the shape of watching all new Pakistani movies released as part of this new, ‘revival’ wave.

I often question my motive(s) behind viewing these films. I have watched some films (Ishq Positive, Halla Gulla, Jalebi) where I’ve known that the amount I spend on the tickets is way more than the worth of the film to me; but there I am dragging an irate four-year-old and a fast asleep two-year-old to a local cinema. My husband hates this. He can live with my other vices but this one takes up too much time.

This problem, or vice as I call it, developed with the release of Shoaib Mansoor’s movie Bol, back in 2011. After almost two decades of not spending money to see a Pakistani movie, I went to watch Bol and I was hooked. I liked the movie — no, I loved the movie — it was just as good if not better than Khuda Kay Liye. I was living and working in the UK at that point and I was happy that Bol was reviewed positively in some British newspapers. This was finally positive news from home!

I watched the thoroughly enjoyable Zinda Bhaag in 2013 and Na Maloom Afraad in 2014 and felt a surge of optimism. However, I think 2015 was the year where my addiction grew worse as I got to see Moor, Shah and Manto, which were simply stellar. I felt these movies touched upon our identity, explained what the Pakistani dream was, depicted the difficulties we face and the hopes we have for the future.

I also saw Karachi se Lahore, Jawani Phir Nahi Aani and Wrong Number which were funny and showed our particular brand of desi humour — funny but sarcastic and biting.

This year also proved quite fruitful with Ho Mann Jahaan, Bachaana, Mah-i-Meer and the sleeper hit Aksband, plus the Eid releases Actor In Law, Janaan and Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai.

Apart from the fact that a lot of the movies I saw were great, I was also starved for entertainment, and I was just dying to see a made-in-Pakistan product. We had some great drama serials coming out each year, but somehow that didn’t translate onto the big screen. So, patriotism or nationalism was the starting point of my addiction. I know that sounds stupid but there you go; I’ve managed to admit it.

The other enjoyable thing about movies is that you can take your family and friends out to something other than an eating place.

Seeing movies on the whole is cheaper than buying pointless clothes and countless glossies (fashion magazines). It’s a way to counter boredom during our endless summers. Besides, you get to sit in a cool room and eat popcorn and your kids doze off in the dark of the cinema. So for someone like me, it’s a win-win situation. Hence, I watch movies to save money and escape boredom.

The other enjoyable thing about movies is that you can take your family and friends out to something other than an eating place. My mother-in-law loves going to movies and will take my side against my husband. My mother is also slowly coming around to the idea of going to the cinema and spending an afternoon watching an interesting movie rather than catching up on sleep. Friends who I need to meet up with tag along and then we go for a coffee afterwards.

I think, on a final note, I am still in the watch-these-movies-as-these-are-made-in-Pakistan mode. I am told that I no longer need to be so generous as our film industry is headed in the right direction and is getting out of its infancy stage and into its cool, hipster experimental adolescent age. Perhaps I will become more discerning in the years to come and slowly wean myself of this bad yet thoroughly enjoyable habit.

Mehreen Chandan

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