Pakistan’s film industry is in collapse

The Odeon Cinema's creaky, ripped red vinyl seats are mostly empty except for a couple of back rows where a dozen Pakistani men sit slouched, their eyes half-open, legs slung over the seats in front of them. Along the hall's bubble-gum pink walls, rows of fans barely move the hot, dank air. The Odeon's loudspeakers crackle like a ham radio.

The feature on this recent evening is a Pakistani film called "Majajan," a love story. The barely breathing, Lahore-based Pakistani film industry produces less than a dozen movies each year, which explains why every day, three times a day for the last three years, the only movie screened at the Odeon has been "Majajan."

Welcome to Lollywood, or what's left of it. It wasn't always this way. Back in the 1960s and '70s, Lahore buzzed with movie shoots, red-carpet premieres and box-office hits. The Pakistani film industry has always been based here, and though it didn't have the girth or dazzle of Bombay's Bollywood, "Lollywood" thrived in a country staking out an identity distinct from its Indian neighbor.

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