West indian culture

Reviving culture | Again | thenews.com.pk

n the budget announced last week, another attempt has been made to rejuvenate the cultural scene; and in particular, to revive the film industry. So many attempts have been made over the past fifteen years to revive the film industry that any new attempt seems doomed to failure.

The contradictions embedded in the state of Pakistan can best be expressed by the political statement of Abdur Rab Nishtar who declared in the 1950s, at the height of the Jaal movement, initiated to ban the importation of Indian films and vice versa to support and protect the local population. the industry, that since films were not allowed to be seen in Islam, therefore they should not be shot here, thought that he was leaving the door open for the import of films, both from India and elsewhere.

This was when East Pakistan was also Pakistan and we suffered less from these bouts of cultural guilt than later regimes regularly suffered from them. After 1971 it became more simplistic. The swing continued and the state still does not know where it stands on this issue, except to brandish it as a warning. He apologized with an explanation still appended to culture as something unnatural and an inevitable expression of the collective.

Pakistan did not have a cultural policy for some time. It was the first government of the Pakistan People’s Party which laid the foundation for a government based on the Faiz report written during Yahya martial law under the presidency of QudratUllad Shahab. Many measures have been taken, some have remained beyond the mandate of the government, some have been distorted along the way; others have been totally abandoned. Everything went into a spin with the rise to power of Zia ul Haq. The next ten years were a struggle between the Pakistan that Zia-ul Haq had built and the struggle to break free from that straitjacket. It was not until the second Benazir government at the end of the 1990s that the first cultural policy was formulated. Since then, each government, especially in the last years of its mandate, has developed and approved a cultural policy. This has included the Pakistani government Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). However, no real progress has been made, not only in film production, but in almost all forms of cultural expression.

In the latest policy, there seems to have been an overemphasis on film production and, to a lesser extent, television production. The other forms of art have not been given the importance they deserve. There was a series of measures such as the creation of a film financing fund of Rs 1 billion, a medical insurance policy, tax exemptions for five years on cinema and production houses. An allocation of Rs 1 billion for the establishment of the National Film Institute, the National Film Studio and the Museum of Films. There has also been a series of export discounts.

A disturbing element of recent years is that the films, the few that were shot in Pakistan, were produced directly or indirectly under the influence of certain security agencies. The direction of filmmaking, indeed of any cultural activity, should be in the hands of the private sector. Leading personalities should have the freedom to exercise their creative choices. The flourishing of cultural activity, be it theatre, theater or cinema, must be led by the private sector. Otherwise it is considered order performance and will not last once the crutches are removed from underneath. It also creates an uneven playing field with all the advantages being kicked out of some favorites while others are left starving for resources.

The importation of Indian films was a good step as it rehabilitated cinema halls and many new ones were being built. The gradual and continuous running and exposure revived the habit of going to the cinema and in doing so Pakistani films were also screened. But then Indian films were again banned, and movie theaters became dead investments and efforts began again to convert them into commercial plazas.

The author is a cultural critic based in Lahore

Source link