The government and the entertainment industry in Pakistan are very keen on collaboration with Turkey
In 1888, Louis Le Prince built a single-lens camera and made a short silent movie; this was the beginning of the never-ending journey of cinematic art. From that day onward the showbiz industry became an integral part of people’s lives all over the world. From providing entertainment to cultural influence, this industry has been working actively throughout the decade. After a long and unparalleled rule of Hollywood over movie viewership, Indian, Turkish and Korean industries have stepped up to the plate and evolved into giants. After satellite channels, OTT platforms have helped them gain large audiences away from home. Taking advantage of the modern-day opportunities, filmmaking industries from all over the world are trying to find new audiences beyond their hometowns. The Pakistan film industry is no exception.
The entertainment industry in Pakistan has had its fair share of ups and downs. Pakistan’s first international exposure of local cinematic talent came in 1978, when Mera Naam Hai Mohabbat was released in China to packed houses for over 75 weeks. At the time, it seemed like we had broached an untapped market. Unfortunately our exploration of foreign markets died down, leaving neighbouring countries, particularly India, to fill the gap. Bollywood profited off the Chinese market by releasing films in Chinese. The film industry in Pakistan failed to make a mark internationally, but our TV dramas were quite popular overseas. After several years, dramas like Humsafar and Zindagi Gulzar Hai have found a new consumer market in the Middle East. These dramas have been dubbed in several languages leading to international recognition for actors like Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan. Pakistan has always been a consumer of Hollywood and Bollywood content, but Turkish drama series took the country by storm a few years ago.
As the world becomes a global village, boundaries between entertainment industries across the globe continue to fade, resulting in a wealth of diverse and rich storylines for TV watchers. The Turkish drama industry has penetrated Pakistan and within a few years skyrocketed in popularity. These drama series were a breath of fresh air for audiences used to regularly scheduled saas bahu saga running on various local channels. The airing of Turkish dramas was also profitable, saving our TV channels the hassle of production while gaining massive TRPs.
As the world becomes a global village, boundaries between entertainment industries across the globe continue to fade, resulting in a wealth of diverse and rich storylines for TV watchers.
However, when Turkish dramas became an instant hit amongst the masses, the entertainment fraternity was not happy. According to them it was indirectly depriving them of work opportunities. Artists such as Yasir Hussain rejected them outright. Humayun Saeed and Adnan Siddiqui suggested that collaborative productions could benefit both countries rather than purchasing broadcasting rights from Turkey.
The popularity of Turkish series such as Mera Sultan and Ertugrul Ghazi have shown investors that series based on Islamic history have great business potential. Following market research, a contract was signed between Akli Films (a Turkish production company) and Ansari Films (a Pakistani production company) on August 20. According to the agreement, these production houses will be producing a drama series based on the life of great Muslim hero Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi. Director-producer Emre Konuk and writer-director Ahmed Farooq Baig representing Akli Films alongside Dr Junaid and Dr Kashif Ansari from Ansari Films signed the deal in Serbia. Following the announcement made in August, auditions took place in Lahore and Karachi. Around 60 people got golden tickets in the first round of auditions. The list of actors includes popular names such as Ushna Shah, Adnan Jelani, (director-actor) Asad Malik, Farhan Ali Agha and Perveen Akhter. Auditions for Turkish actors are currently taking place in Turkey. A second round of auditions in Pakistan is expected soon.
The drama series will have three seasons. The shoot will take place in Turkey in 2022. Written by Ahmed Farooq and directed by Emre Konuk, the series will focus on the life of Salahudin Ayyubi as a Muslim emperor and warrior. According to Ansari Films, they are co-producing this venture as a service to the country and Muslims. History has been mostly kind to Sultan Salahudin Ayyubi. Through this series he will be introduced to a younger generation.
Although pre-production arrangements started with bang, the production process may take a while. Hopefully the Pakistan entertainment industry will make the most of this opportunity to break into the international market.
The author is a media production and PR professional with experience in TV and radio.