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Pashto Cinema Is Not About Gun Culture And Vulgarity Only

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‘Who watches Pashto movies?’

We often see people discussing this question at family gatherings. But we better not answer the question since there’s nothing for a family in a Pashto movie. Hardly ever do we see a character playing a professor, or a doctor or engineer in a Pashto movie. It’s as if we don’t have these professionals in the Pashtun society.

It only proves that Pashto filmmakers are uneducated and have no idea of the stories related to education, health, sports, judiciary, media, commerce, arts, literature, religion or other fields of life. And they are limited to crime and love stories only.

Majority of Pashto movies are structured on love and crime. A hero, a heroine and a villain. That’s it! The entire industry rotates around these three characters. Similarly, they promote violence in the name of culture and vulgarity in the name of love. Such movies are only watched by a particular kind of audience as no one can watch this disgrace to the art along with family and relatives.

These so-called Pashto movies also display the narrow mindset of their directors and producers who have no idea about the stories of the exceptional Pashtuns in the fields of education, science and technology, arts and others. They are limited to guns, explosives and vulgarity. These films give an impression that the Pashtuns are simply criminals and have nothing to do with any positive aspect of life; they don’t have any connection with peace, social responsibilities and cultural values. If anything, it’s a negative portrayal of the Pashtun community.

Hasan Ali Shah, a senior journalist, playwright, actor and producer at a leading Pashto TV channel, is of the view that ‘fighting, killing, gun culture, revenge, vulgar scenes and dances were introduced in almost all Pashto movies to meet the needs of commercialism. And censor board has adopted silence and permitted this practice. When the decline of Pashto film industry began, Pashto tele-films and CD dramas were introduced that crossed all the limits of immorality and portrayed Pashtuns as a cruel, murderous and terrorist nation in Pakistan and abroad’.

He further says: “Since there’s no relevant legislation, anyone who has money can make a film. There’s no check. In film industry, 90% producers invest only for their commercial interests. That is the basic reason of the decline of the film industry”.

“Directors, writers, choreographers and even producers are unaware of the culture, civilisation and social and moral values of the Pashtuns. Forty years ago, anyone could go to cinemas to watch Pashto movies but now majority of the public can’t. By watching and following these movies, youth is also being adversely affected. In rural areas, uneducated youths try to become gangsters. All these producers, directors and actors are responsible for making the situation worse by destroying the image of the Pashtuns”.

These so-called Pashto movies have played a key role in the decline of the cinema going culture. Several Pashto cinemas across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been shut down permanently.

According to Kashif Malik, a young journalist, “Whenever we talk about Pashto language and literature, we can say Pashto is among the richest languages and it has one of the most highly rated literatures among all the regional languages. And that’s because it is somehow closer to the reality of human life. However, if we look at today’s Pashto films and CD dramas, they are totally opposed to the beautiful literature produced in this language. In Pashto literature there is no promotion of the gun culture but in these movies we may see this evil in abundance. These films present a view that Pashtuns are conservative and narrow minded, which is not what the reality is. Therefore, our filmmakers must try to produce constructive and quality movies.”

The role of the provincial government cannot be ignored in this regard. Unfortunately, during the last tenure of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in KP, no sustainable and effective cultural policy could be established. Censor board is functional only in the documents of the culture department. There is no programme for the training of the artists in the province. This shows the failure of the provincial government with respect to promotion of culture.

Prof Dr Yaseen Iqbal Yousufzai, an internationally renowned scientist, educationist and expert on Pashtun culture and literature, is of the view that it is must for the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and authorities concerned to rectify the flaws in the content of such movies. “Today’s Pashto film industry needs radical changes with proper management and extraordinary care given to the content to attract the public by making knowledge-based good quality movies addressing the prevalent social and cultural issues. Educated writers, and institutions, like Pashto Academy, journalism and sociology departments of the University of Peshawar, must play their due role in fixing the poor state of affairs in this sector.”

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