The 66-year-old, who was in the capital to promote his forthcoming production venture Mr. X, said that with the Pakistani film industry ‘almost non-existent’, the popularity of Bollywood films and stars is what has motivated them to revive their own exhibition industry.
“Pakistani people have Indian actors figuring in their lives like in India... when you walk on the streets of Karachi, you have advertisements of Priyanka Chopra or Shah Rukh Khan endorsing some product or the other adorning the walls there,” Bhatt said.
“Their movie halls exhibit films starring Indian actors... because their own film industry is almost non-existent. Their film exhibition industry has been revived because of Bollywood offerings. They live with it... people there have got a new lease of life because of Bollywood,” the National Award-winner added.
Indian movies were banned in Pakistan in 1968 and as a result the film industry across the border suffered recession. While the ban was eased in 2006, most theatres in the country couldn’t survive the self-imposed drought. In fact, just earlier this year, the 66-year-old Taj Mahal cinema in the country’s Abbottabad city was shut down due to lack of clientele.
That said, there are filmmakers who have come up in recent times, and got noticed for their work. Be it Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who won the first Oscar for her country with Saving Face, or names like Mehreen Jabbar (Ramchand Pakistani) and Shoaib Mansoor (Khuda Kay Liye) - their differentiated filmmaking has struck a chord with global audiences.