As Pakistan struggles to eke out funds from IMF & Gulf, its military profits from sale of patriotism, propaganda on screen



International Desk, Barta24.com
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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Pakistan as a state is almost spreading its apron to get funds from International Monetary Fund (IMF) and friendly states in the Gulf, but its military is minting money in ways unheard of in the annals of professional armies. Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the communication wing of the military, is not merely limited to its job of briefing media and public of military’s various activities. It has established itself as the only arm of any military in the world that is producing, and controlling, the entertainment content in the country.

Be it Television series, movies, songs and advertisements and reality shows, the ISPR are producing all like a professional production house. Buried within its content, however, is hardcore propaganda that portrays military as saviour of Pakistan and the cause of Kashmir as a cherished humanitarian mission.

The entertainment industry has been collaborating with governments and the defence establishments world-over. The most glaring example is Hollywood enjoying long-standing relationship with the US Department of Defense. However, this association has largely been for the benefit of productions of movies dealing with wars and conflicts.

But, in case of the ISPR, it seems a matter of smoothening military’s image in the eyes of Pakistani public, selling patriotism and smartly peddling propaganda. As expected, the Kashmir cause is highlighted prominently in the ISPR productions.

Selling Patriotism, Spinning a Web of Propaganda
The ISPR has created or financed more than 60 patriotic anthems, 20 documentaries, and around ten television series and motion pictures apiece over the years. However, in the previous two years, there has been an increase in activity with an emphasis on establishing a favourable image of the nation and the military. When Major General Asif Ghafoor, then-Director General of the ISPR, spoke about the necessity for the media to raise public awareness and underlined its frontline position in fifth generation warfare a few years ago, he underscored this.

The involvement of the Army in Pakistan’s entertainment industry has evolved over the decades. During the dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq (1977-1988), severe censorship was imposed on the performing arts sector. Later, under President Pervez Musharraf (1999-2008), the sector was liberalised, resulting in the burgeoning of private television channels. Today, it is an active partner and co-creator of popular content.

One prominent recent production of the ISPR is a telefilm titled Aik Hai Nigaar, which is based on the life of Pakistan’s first female three-star general, Lieutenant General Nigar Johar, was released on August 14, 2021. It featured Mahira Khan, who is the country’s biggest star. She also wore the producer’s hat for the project (on behalf of the ISPR).

The film was released around the country’s Independence Day and the ISPR was tagged on various social media posts along with the teaser of the flick. The ISPR then made the teaser viral by sharing it widely in different linked networks, giving the project its stamp of approval though it was not credited as a producer or co-creator.

The telefilm was well-received by the audience and grossed considerable moolah for the producers. More importantly for the ISPR, it was successful to generate goodwill for the Army, especially among the women viewers.

Another ambitious recent project of the ISPR has been a women-oriented drama series named Sinf e Aahan (Women of Steel). Centred on young women from different Pakistani cities and ethnicities joining Pakistani military, it stars all leading ladies of the Pakistani cinema like Sajal Aly, Kubra Khan, Yumna Zaidi, Ramsha Khan and Syra Yousuf. The series broke records of popularity and became a huge hit – the purpose that the military had aspired to achieve with its production.

Besides attracting youth and women towards Army, the ISPR has used references to Kashmir and enmity with India in the contents of the productions it has been associated with. It was no surprise that Squadron Leader Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured by the Pakistani Army during the 2019 Balakot air strike, found a place in the ISPR drama series Ehd-e-Wafa, which also went on to become hugely popular among the viewers.

The ISPR also conceived and hosted the first National Amateur Short Film Festival in June 2021 to promote young talent “to produce high quality short films projecting a positive image of Pakistan”, which was attended by then Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The ISPR also produced a 26-episode military reality series called 60 Hours to Glory, which was based on one of the most difficult military contests dubbed the “Pakistan Army Team Spirit” and included eight local and four international teams. According to the ISPR’s Instagram post, it will “demonstrate the rigours of the Pak Army’s training regime, portraying ‘Why We Are the Best’.”

The goal of the programme was to “stimulate the entertainment industry to produce an innovative stream of thrilling and adventurous content.”

   

Popular actor Ahmed Rubel passes away



Cultural Desk, Barta24.com
Ahmed Rubel 1968-2024

Ahmed Rubel 1968-2024

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Country's popular actor Ahmed Rubel is no more (Inna Lillahi Wainilahi Raziun). Director Nurul Alam Atiq confirmed the news of his death to the media Wednesday evening. The cause of the actor's death is not known till the writing of this report. He was 55.

Nurul Alam Atik's new movie 'Peyarar Subash' was to be screened on Wednesday evening. Ahmed Rubel came to join this screening program. He got sick at the event. Later, he was taken to Square Hospital where doctors declared him dead.

Ahmed Rubel was one of the actors of the film "Peyarar Subash". It is also not certain whether the premiere show will take place after the actor's death.

Directed by Nurul Alam Atik, the film also stars Jaya Ahsan, Tariq Anam Khan, Sushma Sarkar and many other talented actors.

Ahmed Rajib Rubel alias Ahmed Rubel was born on 3 May 1968 in Rajarampur village of Chapainawabganj town. His father's name was Ayesh Uddin. Ahmed Rubel grew up in Dhaka city since childhood. And lastly he was living permanently with his family in Gazipur near Dhaka.

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Rezwana Banya wins 'Padma Shri' award



Entertainment Desk, Barta24.com
Picture: Collected

Picture: Collected

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Names of India's Padma Shri awardees this year have been announced. Rezwana Chowdhury Banya, the eminent Rabindra musician of Bangladesh, has been awarded the fourth highest civilian award in India.

On Thursday (January 25), India's Ministry of Home Affairs announced the names of the nominees for the Padma Awards in a press note.

India's highest civilian award is the Bharat Ratna. Then there are Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. These medals are awarded in recognition of contributions in arts, social work, science and engineering, commerce and industry, public service, medicine, literature and education, sports and civic service.

This year the Government of India has nominated 132 eminent persons for the Padma Award. Among them five Padma Vibhushan, 17 Padma Bhushan and 110 Padma Shri.

The names of the medalists are announced every year ahead of the Republic Day of India. The awards are usually presented in a ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in March or April.

Rezwana Chowdhury Bannya was born in Patuakhali district. She studied at Chhayanaut and Visva Bharati University in India. She also got admission in Bulbul Lalitkala Academy.

Rezwana Chowdhury received the country's highest state award, Swadhinata Padak, in 2016 for her outstanding contribution to music. Besides, she has received many awards including Feroza Begum Smriti Gold Medal, Citycell-Channel i Music Award, Ananda Sangeet Award. She also received several medals in India. Notable among them is Bangabhushan. 

 

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Producers will not release "Fighter" in Bangladesh!



Mashid Ron, Senior Newsroom Editor, Barta24.com
Deepika Padukone, Hrithik Roshan and Anil Kapoor in the poster of the movie 'Fighter'

Deepika Padukone, Hrithik Roshan and Anil Kapoor in the poster of the movie 'Fighter'

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The much awaited movie 'Fighter' starring two Bollywood superstars Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone was released in India today on January 25. On the same day, the release of the film in Bangladesh was heard. The film even got permission to release in the country through import.

But there is a bad news for the Bangladeshi viewers waiting for 'Fighter' at the end! Not only today, the Hindi film 'Fighter' is not releasing in Bangladesh within the next month.

After finding out, six days later, the month of language is February. The Combined Film Council has requested that no foreign language film be screened in the theaters of the country this month. Barta24.com also received a letter from the Combined Film Council along with Ananya Mamun, the leader of ‘Fighter’ import company 'Action Cut' in Bangladesh.

The letter signed by member secretary of the council Shah Alam Kiran said, "In view of your request, an undertaking to import the Indian Hindi film 'Fighter' and release it before or after February 1 to February 28 (the month of language) is our collective film. I make a special request to submit in favor of the council.”

In that letter, Ananya Mamun's cooperation was also sought in not releasing Hindi films during the month of language. In view of this letter, Mamun said, "We will not release 'Fighter' in Bangladesh because the Indian producer will not release the movie for 6 days.”

After getting permission to release Indian movies in Bangladesh last year, Ananya Mamun imported several Hindi films and released them. Mamun released 'Pathan', 'Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan', 'Jawaan', 'Animal' and 'Danki' through import from Action Cut Company. However, apart from Shahrukh Khan's 'Jawaan', the others could not do business like that.

Aerial action film 'Fighter' directed by Siddharth Anand the film is getting huge response after its release in India on Thursday. Meanwhile, from the general audience to the critics, everyone is appreciating the film. Apart from Hrithik-Deepika, it also stars Anil Kapoor, Akshay Oberoi, Karan Singh Grover and many others.

The film is made in the context of an airstrike after a terrorist attack on India by Pakistan. Hrithik and Deepika will act as Air Force officers in the film 'Fighter'.

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Sharmila, Mamata, Swastika meet the Prime Minister exclusively



Masid Ron, Senior Newsroom Editor, Barta24.com
Sharmila Tagore, Mamata Shankar and Swastika Mukherjee in a private meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

Sharmila Tagore, Mamata Shankar and Swastika Mukherjee in a private meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

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Dhaka Film Festival is brighter than ever. Although none of the mainstream films of our country have been evaluated by this festival committee. However, this festival is now in discussion with the presence of famous stars from outside of the country.

This time, the three guests of the 22nd Dhaka International Film Festival, India's three famous Bengali actresses Sharmila Tagore, Mamata Shankar and Swastika Mukherjee got a chance to have an exclusive meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The photo of their meeting has reached Barta24.com. Everyone is seen smiling. However, it is not yet known what they talked about there.

Mujtaba Jamal, the organizer of the film festival, was also present with the three famous actresses of India during this meeting.

The 22nd Dhaka International Film Festival started on January 20. It will continue till January 28. The festival was inaugurated by Bollywood diva Sharmila Tagore. She is also on the Jury Board of the Asia Cinema category. She will return to Mumbai on January 29 after completing all the work.

And Mamata Shankar and Swastika Mukherjee came with their movie 'Vijayar Pare'. The film will be screened today at 7 pm at the National Museum Auditorium.

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