Pakistani actor Hamza Ali Abbasi says the influx of Hindi films has spelt trouble for his country’s entertainment industry, which he feels is losing its distinct identity in a race to “be a cheap copy of Bollywood”.
“I feel the Indian film industry has had a huge impact in Pakistan because they filled the void which was created when films were not being made here (in my country). Our filmmakers have grown up watching Hindi films, so they are trying to make films which look like Bollywood films,” Hamza told IANS in an exclusive interview over phone from Islamabad.
“Pakistan’s film industry should make its own identity. I don’t want our film industry to be some wannabe film industry,” added the actor, whose maternal family hails from Amritsar.
Now he has walked into the Indian small screen through his show “Pyaare Afzal”, which beams here on Zindagi channel.
Hamza, who has studied bachelors in international relations and development from US and is a former cultural secretary of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), evinces hope with the new wave of cinema taking over in Pakistan.
While there was a “Zinda Bhaag”, which was sent as a prospective Oscar nomination, Pakistan’s first Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chenoy has brought in animation filmmaking to the country with “3 Bahadur”, a 3D feature drama.
“Our film industry is still in a process of emerging. With this new film industry, we have a chance to make it a distinct medium of representation instead of trying to be a cheap copy of Bollywood,” he added.
The actor, who has worked in films like “WAAR” and “Main Hoon Shahid Afridi” and whose theatrical repertoire includes international projects like “Bombay Dreams”, “Phantom of the Opera” and “Home is Where Your Clothes Are”, added that Pakistani film industry can learn a thing or two from its own TV industry.
“Our only representative across the globe is TV dramas. Our identity is brilliantly represented in TV dramas. I think our film industry need not learn from Bollywood ‘masala’ films, but from our drama industry,” said Hamza, who notes that “Pakistani TV dramas stay true to the country’s culture”.
“For instance, I’ve not seen an item song in Pakistani dramas. Whether we agree or not, Pakistan doesn’t approve of such things,” he said, and added: “Item number is a phenomena, which is creeping into Pakistani films and is not being appreciated by our people.”
Hamza also believes that Pakistani film industry is “not adapting good Bollywood films, but which are full of ‘masala’ like ‘Grand Masti’ and ‘Housefull’”, adding that the current trend is disappointing as “Bollywood is itself trying to do away with such cinema with meaningful films like ‘3 Idiots’ and ‘Piku’”.
So will he like to feature in Bollywood film?
“I don’t see myself in Bollywood for a while, because I think I’m more useful in Pakistan. If there is ever a joint venture where Pakistan also has a take in the project then, probably yes I would consider it,” said Hamza, who had turned down an offer to feature in Akshay Kumar-starrer “Baby”.
While he has nothing against actors like Fawad Khan and Ali Zafar, who have made their mark in Bollywood, he pointed out at one drawback.
“Our actors become really big in Bollywood and then they become a bit inaccessible and a delicacy for Pakistan,” quipped Hamza.