Inside Pakistan’s adult film industry
It’s late at night and the room is dimly lit. The walls are decorated with paintings, posters of sportsmen and some birthday cards. There is silence. A boy and a girl are sitting hand in hand. In due time, the boy starts playing with the girl’s hair. She walks away from him and he follows her to the edge of the bed. The girl looks coyly up at him and says, “Please don’t.”
The moment of intimacy is broken as someone shouts, “Repeat.” The young couple has been shooting a scene for an adult movie at a studio in Defence, an upmarket Karachi suburb. The studio, which is considered one of the best in the country, combines the innovative with the traditional in its products. Two of the four rooms in the bungalow serve as sets. The room in which this movie is shooting has been designed to look like a study.
“The movie has been made to attract students and to show them how to enjoy intimate relationships,” claims Junaid, owner of the studio and producer of the film. While the use of hi-tech equipment has given his work a more sophisticated look, Junaid credits another factor for the rapid rise of his career.
“The reason for our success is not the use of sophisticated equipment but the introduction of youngsters,” says Junaid. Producing such flicks can be very lucrative. A film typically costs Rs 400-600,000 and can make as much as one million rupees. “Last year,” says Junaid, “we produced seven films.”
Do the math and it becomes obvious that this little makeshift studio is minting money. As for the actresses, they are paid between Rs 30,000 to 50,000 per film. For three of the seven films he produced, says Junaid, youngsters volunteered themselves for the main roles. And what of the rest? Tina, a director who was once an actor herself, adds somewhat menacingly, “We have the ability to convince people.” Junaid and Tina laid the foundations for the studio in 2002 and claim to have produced more than 90 films since.
They have, in time, learned the ropes of the industry. At first they mimicked the moves and plots of English movies but then slowly gained the confidence to add a hint of local flavour to their productions. Tina says, “We wanted something that would appeal to the local audience and show them something about sex in Pakistan.” Tina remembers the first time they produced a film without providing directions to the actors. It was in 2005 and, in Tina’s words, “it rocked the market.”
The studio initially hired commercial sex workers for their films. Soon, though, they began to expand by hiring enthusiastic volunteers. They felt it would make the performances look more natural. During the filming none of the actors are allowed to use condoms. “Condoms take away from the viewer’s pleasure,” is Junaid’s calculation, proffered with a loud smile. He does not think it necessary to carry out HIV tests before employing performers. Defying all odds, the producers of both of Pakistan’s leading adult film-studios claim to never have encountered a single HIV-positive actor in this field.
Beena, 24, volunteered for a movie in 2007 and has appeared in seven since. She says, “My friend Aliya worked in them and would tell me stories. One day I asked her to take me with her to a shoot and she agreed.” After attending, she decided to give it a go herself. Zunaira, who is 5’6 and has blonde streaks in her hair, followed a similar path to the adult film industry. “After attending classes at college I would come to the studio. It turned into a sort of addiction.” Twenty-three-year-old Zubaida is sitting in a well decorated ‘guest room’ at her Tariq Road flat. Located in a commercial building, the interior is adorned with colourful prints.
There are four other people in the room; three men aged between 30 and 35 and Binda, a girl in blue jeans and a red T-shirt, who joined the industry two years ago. In 2006, Zubaida ran away from her home in Gujarat with a boy she loved. “He used me for 10 days and then sold me to a man from Gulshan-e-Iqbal. The man raped me for a month and then put me up for sale again.”
In the spring of 2008, Zubaida met Arsalan, a handsome boy from Defence, at a party at Hawke’s Bay where she had gone on a ‘date’ with a customer. Zubaida and Arsalan soon became closer and started an intimate relationship. Arsalan was already in the business and convinced Zubaida that appearing in adult movies would make her famous. She describes the experience of making her debut movie. “I was confused in front of the camera the first time. I had seen never pictures or movies of myself in such a situation.”
Arsalan and Jan, the producer and star of the film persuaded her to do a photo shoot undressed and then started shooting the film. “It was all new for mebut I am used to it now,” the young actor said, blushing. The process of shooting a film, according to Arsalan, is not as easy as it sounds. “You have to arrange sets, dresses and hire professional cameramen to do the job.
It not as simple as two people doing scenes and one cameraman shooting them,” he explained. They then circulate the films in the market with the help of their regular shopkeepers. The films are circulated all across the country and posted on websites. The team also poses as viewers and start chat room discussions and post blogs about the quality of their films and beauty of their stable of actors. Arsalan reckons that Titlyaan and Andheri Raat are the biggest hits that have come from his studio as yet. Junaid and Tina’s shortlist consists of Take Me in Your Arms and Love On The Beach. Junaid’s latest innovation has been shooting films in cars at night.
It took some very brave actors and skilled cameramen, but after some initial glitches, they pulled it off. “The police are not a problem. Pay them Rs 5,000 and they shan’t bother you,” the producers say. For its part, the police deny the existence of such movies. Some police officers laughed at the very idea of such adult movie studios in Karachi. But others did accept them. Crime Investigation Police SP Fayyaz Khan said that such films are not allowed and whenever police receives information regarding the presence of these movies in shops, they take action. “Many shops have been raided in the recent past,” concedes Khan.
For their part, the police are quick to defend their role in turning a blind eye to these productions. CCPO Karachi Police Waseem Ahmad rebuffed the allegation that police are involved in promoting the industry saying wherever, “we find such movies or people we fine and punish accordingly.”