Pakistan's Bollywood affair marred by piracy

Pakistan's Bollywood affair marred by piracyKarachi, Nov 22 - People in Pakistan swoon over Shah Rukh Khan's dimples and love the melodrama of a Karan Johar movie but like a typical Hindi film there's also a villian in the script - piracy.

"Screening of Bollywood movies is still restricted in a lot of cinema halls because of the huge print costs. And on top of that, we have to battle with piracy here as well, which is quite rampant in Pakistan,"the managing director of Mandviwalla Entertainment, Nadeem Mandviwalla, told IANS.
He says that Bollywood has been popular in Pakistan for over 30 years, but piracy is killing the movie-watching experience.
"The day a movie releases here, you can get its pirated version as well. Hence it affects our business and not many cinema hall owners can afford to do that. Piracy is the biggest deterrent in our industry," he added.
Mandviwalla, who is also the owner of Nishat and DHA cinema complexes in Lahore, says that Karachi had around 36 stand-alone theatres, and one multiplex with five screens, Universe Cineplex.
While pirated CDs and DVDs may make Hindi films accessible to a larger audience, the shoddy quality is too huge a price to pay.
The menace of piracy is so rampant that theatre owners say they can tackle it only by giving an "enhanced viewing experience" to film buffs.
Mandviwalla said he wanted to give a complete cinematic experience to movie buffs in Pakistan, and was launching a digital cinema multiplex in Karachi.
"There is no 3D cinema in Pakistan; so we are introducing it by this month's end in Karachi. We will give our audience a world class experience. This will be the first ever in our country," he said.
"It's the elite class and some of the middle-class people who come to watch movies in cinemas and our sole focus is now on giving them a different experience. Many people will buy pirated copies and won't ever come to a theatre, but real movie buffs won't mind going that extra mile to get a good experience," he said.
The tickets at a multiplex cost 350 Pakistani rupees, while for a stand-alone theatre, tickets cost 250, 150 and 70 Pakistani rupees respectively for gallery, dress circle and stall.
So, what is it about Bollywood that makes Pakistanis such fervent adherents of the 'love thy neighbour' philosophy?
"I love everything about Bollywood. We relate so much to the culture and the way it is presented. There is so much drama into it, so much style and glamour... it is simply amazing," gushes Zahra Lotia, a student, to this visiting IANS correspondent.
While for the older generation, Shah Rukh Khan rules the popularity charts, the youngsters prefer stars like Ranbir Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor and Katrina Kaif.
Among the filmmakers, Karan Johar is an overwhelming favourite.
"He is a rock star. Look at his movies, he knows how to hit the nail on the head. His larger than life movies take us to into another world altogether, where we have happy endings," said Anam Sheikh, another student.
In a nation where people have learnt to live with uncertainty and chaos, it's these Bollywood masala fares that provide much-needed relief.
"We have learnt to live our life the hard way, so our love for Bollywood gives a breather from the regular news of bloodshed and killings. Sometimes, one needs to live in the reel life as well," said beauty saloon owner Ruquia. (IANS)

Munni badnaam hui' creates problems for real life Munnis

Lahore, Dec 2 - "Munni Badnaam Hui Darling Tere Liye" from the Bollywood film "Dabangg" might have legions of fans but not the real life Munni, a mother of two in this Pakistani city, who has been harassed so much that she has shut her small shop.Munni, a fairly common name in the subcontinent, is ruing the day the song became a hit. Her store is located at her home and she has been unable to open it since the song became popular.
"Every now and then someone will come to my store and say 'Munni badnaam hui darling tere liye' in front of my customers. First I didn't pay much attention and tried to ignore it, but then it became a routine event and I started to get irritated," Express Tribune quoted Munni as saying.
"Even sober and reserved people have sung this song loudly while passing by my store. I have scolded many of them but they just laugh and run away.
"Finally, I couldn't take this behaviour any more and closed my shop for several days. Now it's been two months and either I don't open my store or if I do open it, then I don't sit at the counter myself."
A mother of two, Munni said the song has also impacted on her personal life.
"On seeing me, boys in my neighbourhood would start singing this song at full volume. Many times they play it on tape to tease me. This song has really become a nightmare for me."
This Munni is not the only one to face problems, another Munni, a school principal, is too facing harassment.
Shahida Munni, principal of a school in this city, had been given the nickname Munni by her family and friends.
"While walking in my neighbourhood, I am always scared that someone will start to sing the song. Most of the time my fears become reality as many boys either sing the song loudly or play it on the stereo," Shahida said.
She said that it has now become a painful routine. "They do it for fun. I don't understand how teasing someone can be fun for people. I am sick of this now and want this to come to an end." (IANS)

Another Trouble For Shoaib Akhtar!

But, Akhtar had been delaying his signing since the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka, although all the other players had already signed the code of conduct.
The source also said that that national team manager Yawar Saeed faced Shoaib in England and asked him to sign the code of conduct, but he kept on denying.
''Shoaib's stand was that he would only sign the code of conduct when he was given a new central contract by the board. His argument was that since he was not a centrally contracted player he was not bound to sign the code of conduct. Saeed threatened to send Shoaib back to Pakistan if he did not sign the code of conduct,'' the source added.
The PCB official added that Shoaib was saved from the Shame of being sent back home from England after captain Shahid Afridi intervened and convinced the pacer to sign the code of conduct.
Sources said the PCB was determined to maintain discipline in the Pakistan group and chairman Ijaz Butt instructed Saeed to cope strictly with any player who violates the code of conduct and send him back home immediately.
Akhtar has had a chequered disciplinary record and returned to the national squad for the Asia Cup after a 14-month layoff due to fitness and disciplinary issues.
He was not given a new contract by the PCB and the board is yet to take a call on the issue. (With Inputs from Agencies)