An important update about Pakistan’s film industry was revealed in the boardroom of IMGC House, Karachi recently. Amjad Rasheed, the CEO of Distribution Club — a leading distribution company under the International Multi Group of Companies’ (IMGC) umbrella — who was behind recent releases Kamli, Lafangey, Intezaar and the upcoming Shaan Shahid starrer Zarrar, laid out what were mostly a series of bleak details, with few positive notes during a very selective press meet.

A bulk of the meeting discussed the yet-to-be-implemented film policy, that has, for now, reverted to an updated form of its 2018 draft. That policy, though flawed, was being championed by the then-,minister of information Mariam Aurangzeb, who has retaken its reigns once again now that she has returned to the same position in the present government.

Although the minister is sincere in her efforts, Rasheed affirms, he sees little chance of the policy’s implementation before his tenure as chairman of the Pakistan Film Producer’s Association (PFPA) ends. He is currently serving his last month as chairman.
The Ministry of Information, he says, has been tasked with, at the very least, announcing the implementation of a portion of achievable targets by the 15th of this month.

So far, no notifications have been received by the State Bank of Pakistan, the Federal Bureau of Revenue or the Ministry of Industries — the necessary agencies and institutions required to officially acknowledge film as an industry in Pakistan — and no procedure has been laid down to his and the film fraternity’s knowledge.

Pushing his own 16-point action plan, Rasheed, as chairman of the PFPA, has been in constant deliberation with the government. The longtime distributor also praised former minister of information Fawad Chaudhry and the Information Secretary Shaheera Shahid — the latter who is still in office — for their respective past and present-day support. Rasheed was also thankful for Badar Ikram, the CEO of Hum Films, for his diligent contributions in the design and flow of their realistic action plan.

Rasheed feels that the private sector should step up their own production units. The companies can benefit from the tax reliefs that can save the industry if the right policies come into play.

As always, he and his distribution shingle DC will continue to support the industry.
Rasheed has just returned from a fruitful 10-day trip to the UK, where he met with representatives from Zee, B4U and other international distributors who have a presence in the region.

Congratulating Humayun Saeed for the success of London Nahi Jaunga, which did phenomenal business in the UK, Rasheed wants to reach out to the Pakistani-Indian diaspora by creating solid relations in the region.

One major hurdle, he says, is to implement a way to cut-down the advertising costs of GBP 125,000 to 200,000 through a proper distribution that needs to gain visibility in the UK. Once again, the solution falls under one of government’s departments — the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP).

As far as Pakistani productions are concerned, Rasheed is already neck deep with an investment of approximately Rs300 million in the already fledging film business.

Presenting a brochure which listed some of the successes of his company, his current slate of releases include Zarrar (slated to release on September 23), the Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan starrer Neelofar (slated for December), director Faisal Qureshi’s high-profile comedy caper Money Back Guarantee (no release date yet, but one assumes the coming Eidul Fitr; the film stars an ensemble starring Fawad Khan, Gohar Rasheed and Waseem Akram), and a limited release of Joyland, which he believes will be the country’s submission to the Oscars.

Another film in his lineup is Shoaib Mansoor’s Aasmaan Bolay Ga, which is possibly due to release in January 2023. Possibly, because he dare not ask ShoMan (as Shoaib Mansoor is called in the film fraternity) the release date since he respects the director so much, he says. Rasheed will just release the film when Mansoor tells him to.

Aasmaan Bolay Ga — whose title becomes a word play when beaded at the end of Mansoor’s previous releases “Khuda Kay Liye Bol, Verna Aasmaan Bolay Ga” — stars Maya Ali and Emmad Irfani.

Rasheed also wants several of his in-development projects to start prepping for productions. The list includes his long-gestated film Sorry Baba (for which he wanted Shaan Shahid as the lead, he once confessed to this writer) and Sarmad Sultan Khoosat’s take on the Munawar Zareef 1973 hit Jeera Blade, titled Jeera Blade 2. The problem with the latter, Rasheed says, is how does one find a replacement for Munawar Zarif?

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