Cinema of Pakistan
|List of Pakistani films|
|1950 1951 1952 1953 1954
1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
|1960 1961 1962 1963 1964
1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
|1970 1971 1972 1973 1974
1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
|1980 1981 1982 1983 1984
1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
|1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
|2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
|2010 2011 2012 2013|
The cinema of Pakistan refers to Pakistan's film industry. Most of the feature films shot in Pakistan are in Urdu language but may also include films in English, Punjabi, Pashto, Balochi or Sindhi languages. Pakistan's largest film industry is Lollywood.
Before the separation of Bangladesh, Pakistan had three main film production centres: Lahore, Karachi and Dhaka. Dhaka was lost after 1971. The regime of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, VCRs, film piracy, the introduction of entertainment taxes, and Islamic laws, have been some of the many obstacles to the industry's growth. Once thriving, the cinema in Pakistan now barely exists.
The Pakistani film industry is credited with having produced some of the most notable and recognised filmmakers, actors, writers and directors, and for introducing pop music to South Asia and beyond. Competition from Bollywood and piracy, however, have led to the industry's decline.
Partition and growth of cinema(1947–1958)
With much hardships faced, the new film industry was able to produce its first feature film, Teri Yaad on 7 August, 1948, premièring at the Parbhat Theatre in Lahore. The following year, Evernew Studios established a studio in the country which would later become the largest film company of the time. Over the next few years, films that were released reached mediocre success until the release of Do Ansoo on 7 April 1950. Do Ansoo became the first film to attain a 25-week viewing making it the first film to reach silver jubilee status.
Recovery was evident with Noor Jehan's directorial debut Chanwey releasing on 29 April 1951. The film became the first film to be directed by a female director. Syed Faqir ahmad Shah produced his first production 1952 The "Jagga Daku" Saqlain Rizvi was the Director, the film could not get much appreciation due to violence shown in it. As cinema viewership increased, Sassi released on 3 June 1954 reached golden jubilee status staying on screens for 50-weeks. Legendary playback singer Ahmed Rushdi started his career in April 1955 after singing his first song in Pakistan "Bander Road Se Kemari".Umar Marvi released on 12 March 1956 became the first Pakistani film made in the Sindhi language. To celebrate the success of these endeavours, film journalist Ilyas Rashidi launched an annual awarding event on July 17, 1958. Named Nigar Awards, the event is since then considered Pakistan's premier awarding event celebrating outstanding performance in various categories of filmmaking.
Golden age under President Ayub Khan (1959–1969)
The '60s decade is often cited as being the golden age of cinema in Pakistan. Many A-stars were introduced in this period in time and became legends on the silver screen. As black-and-white became obsolete, Pakistan saw the introduction of first colour films. Some that share the status of being firsts are Munshi Dil's Azra in early 1960s, Zahir Raihan's Sangam (first full-length coloured film) released on 23 April 1964, and Mala (first coloured cinemascope film).
Although it seemed that the industry had stabilised to a certain extent, the relations between the two neighbouring countries were not. On 26 May 1961, Kay Productions released a film titled Bombay Wallah, which did not came under scrutiny from the censor board for having a name that represented a city in India in the wake of the growing tension between the region. Later, the censor board was blamed for irresponsibility. It was the first time that a Pakistani film explored the realms of politics, but it would not be the last. In 1962, film Shaheed aka Martyr, pronounced the Palestine issue on the silver screen and became an instant hit. With the changing tide in the attitude of filmmakers, actress Mussarat Nazir who had reigned the industry for a while left for Canada and settled with her family. Her much anticipated film Bahadur was left unfinished and never released giving alternative films like Syed Kamal's debutant acting role in film Tauba to be admired and fill the void, In 1962 Pakistan most versatile actor Mohammad ali debut his acting career his debut movie was Charagh jalta raha movie was premiered by Fatima Jinnah on March 9, 1962 at Nishat Cinema, Karachi.
In September 1965, following an armed conflict between India and Pakistan, all Indian films were taken off the screen from cinemas in Pakistan and a complete ban was imposed on the Indian films. The ban existed since 1952 in West Pakistan and since 1962 in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), but was exercised rigorously after the conflict. Pakistani cinemas did not suffer much from the decision to remove the films and instead received better viewership for their films. Realising the potential, Waheed Murad stepped into the industry. His persona led people to call him the chocolate hero and in essence, he became the Marlon Brando and Elvis Presley of Pakistan.
In 1966, film Armaan was released and became one of the most cherished accomplishments of the industry. The film is said to have given birth to Pakistani pop music introducing playback singing legends – composer Sohail Rana and singer Ahmed Rushdi. The film became the first to complete 75-weeks screenings at cinema houses throughout the country attaining a platinum jubilee. Another rising star Nazeer Beg with th stage-name Nadeem received instant success with his debut film Chakori in 1967. The same year, he would act in another film of a different genre altogether. Horror films were introduced with the release of Zinda Laash aka The Living Corpse making it the first film to display an R rating tag on its posters.
Meanwhile Eastern Films Magazine, a tabloid edited by Said Haroon, became the most popular magazine for film buffs in Pakistan. The magazine had a questions and answers section titled "Yours Impishly" which the sub-editor Asif Noorani took inspiration for from I. S. Johar's page in India's Filmfare magazine. Tabloid like these got their first controversial covers with the release of Neela Parbat on 3 January 1969, which became Pakistan's first feature-film with an adults-only tag. The film ran for only three-to-four days at the box office.
More controversial yet would be the offering of distribution rights in the Middle East to the Palestinian guerrilla organisation, Al Fatah by the writer, producer, and director Riaz Shahid for his film Zarqa released on 17 October 1969. The film depicted the activities of the organisation.
Age of the VCR (1970–1977)
Following the Bangladesh Liberation War, Pakistani film industry lost its Dacca wing and number of cinema decreased rapidly. The period saw the exodus of more influential workers in the industry leave for the newly found Bangladesh. This caused another serious brain drain since the partition of India. Veterans like Runa Laila departed for Bangladesh and the Pakistani industry was at the brink of disaster yet again.
Amidst concerns of a collapse, the film Dosti, released on 7 February 1971, turned out to be the first indigenous Urdu film to complete 101 weeks of success at the box office dubbing it the first recipient of a diamond jubilee, however it is reported that the first diamond jubilee status was celebrated by the Punjabi film Yakke Wali in 1957.
As political uncertainty took charge of the entertainment industry, filmmakers were asked to consider socio-political impacts of their films as evident by the fact that the makers of Tehzeeb, released on 20 November 1971, were asked to change the lyrics with a reference to ‘Misr’, Urdu for Egypt, that might prove detrimental to diplomatic relations of Egypt and Pakistan. So vulnerable was the film industry to the changing political landscape that in 1976, an angry mob set fire to cinema in Quetta just before the release of the first Balochi film, Hamalo Mah Gunj, which was to be filmed in the same cinema.
The mid-1970s saw the introduction of video cassette recorders in Pakistan and instantly films from all over the world were copied onto tape, and attendance at cinemas decreased when people preferred to watch films in the comfort of their homes. This ushered the birth of the film piracy industry films began to be copied on tapes on the day they premiered in cinemas.
Javed Jabbar's Beyond the Last Mountain, released on 2 December 1976, was Pakistan’s first venture into English film-making. The film's Urdu version Musafir did not do well at the box-office. While the industry was revolutionising, Pakistan's government was in a state of turmoil. Aina, released on 18 March 1977, marked a distinct symbolic break between the so-called liberal Zulfikar Ali Bhutto years and the increasingly conservative cum revolutionary Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq regime. The film stayed in cinemas for over 400 weeks at the box office, with its last screening at 'Scala' in Karachi where it ran for more than four years. It is considered the most popular film in the country's history to date.
President Zia-ul-Haq's Islamisation, Gandasa culture and the downfall (1979–1987)
Following Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq's military coup, he began to Islamicise the country and one of the first victims of this socio-political change included the film industry. Imposition of new registration laws for film producers requiring filmmakers to be degree holders, where not many were, led to a steep decline in the workings of the industry. The government forcibly closed most of the cinemas in Lahore. New tax rates were introduced, further decreasing cinema attendances.
Films dropped from a total output of 98 films in 1979, of which 42 were in Urdu, to only 58 films (26 in Urdu) in 1980. The filmmakers that remained employed flaccid storylines to present Punjabi cult classics like Maula Jatt in 1979, telling the story of a gandasa-carrying protagonist waging a blood-feud with a local gangster. Growing censorship policies against displays of affection, rather than violence, came as a blow to the industry and as a result violence-ridden Punjabi films prevailed and overshadowed the Urdu cinema. The middle class neglected the 'increasingly dilapidated and rowdy cinemas'. This film sub-culture came to be known as the ‘gandasa culture’ in the local industry.
Where veterans of this culture Sultan Rahi and Anjuman, became iconic figure in the Punjabi films, Pashto cinema took on a contrasting façade. Backed by powerful politicians, Pashto filmmakers were able to get around the censor policies and filled their films with soft-core pornography to increase viewership. This threw away the romantic and loveable image of Pakistani cinema and less people were attracted to the prospect of going to a cinema. Being a female actor associated with film productions became an understandable taboo. Nevertheless influx of refugees from across the Afghani border, who were denied the entertainment in their country, kept the industry strongly active.
When it seemed the industry could not be further deteriorated, following years saw yet another blow to the fatal collapse. Waheed Murad, oft termed the chocolate hero died in 1983 due to alcohol abuse and stomach cancer, some however say he committed suicide. Media attributes the film star's death to his disheartened view in the wake of Pakistani cinema's collapse. Director of his unfinished film Hero, employed cheat shots to complete the last of this legend's memorable films to a packed audience. This enthusiasm soon disappeared and not even Pakistan's first science fiction film Shaani in 1989, directed by Saeed Rizvi employing elaborate special effects could save the industry from failing. The sci-fi film received an award at the Moscow Film Festival  and even in Egypt and Korea, but sadly was shelved in its country of origin.
At the starts of the 1990s, Pakistan's film industry was gripped with certain doom. Of the several studios only 11 were operational in the '70s and '80s producing around 100 films annually. This number would lower further as studio went towards producing short-plays and television commercials and let the industry astray in the wake of cable television. By the early '90s, the annual output dropped to around 40 films, all produced by a single studio. Other productions would be independent of any studio usually financed by the filmmakers themselves.
The local industry succeeded to gain audience attention however in the mid- and late-1990s. With Syed Noor's JeevaSaeed Rizvis "SARKATA INSAAN" first Pakistani Horror and Fiction, in 1997 Saeed Rizvi created "TILISMIH JAZIRA" First Joint Venture between Soviet Union & Pakistan,and Samina Peerzada's Inteha, it seemed the cinema of Pakistan was headed towards a much needed revival but naught attendance recorded at the box-office for later ventures ushered a complete and utter collapse of the industry. Notable productions of the time include Deewane Tere Pyar Ke, Mujhe Chand Chahiye, Sangam, Tere Pyar Mein, and Ghar Kab Aao Gay, which tried hard to get away from the formulaic and violent storylines but were not accepted fully amongst the lower middle class cinema audience.
Controversy raged over the filming of Jinnah in the late 1990s, a film produced by Akbar Salahuddin Ahmed and directed by Jamil Dehlavi. Objections were raised over the choice of actor Christopher Lee as the protagonist depicting Muhammad Ali Jinnah and inclusion of Indian Shashi Kapoor as archangel Gabriel in the cast combined with the experimental nature of the script. Imran Aslam, editor of The News International, said the author wrote the script in a ‘haze of hashish’. Of all the controversies and hearsay, the film proved a point that Indian and Pakistani filmmakers and actors can collaborate on any such cinematic ventures without the ban being lifted. Later years would see more actors travels traveling in and across the border on further cross-border ventures.
Late '80s had seen the death of Murad and towards 1989, Anjuman got married to Mobeen Malik, quitting from playback signing and finally Sultan Rahi was murdered in 1996. The already reeling industry lost viewership not just for its Urdu but Punjabi films following Rahi's death. Director Sangeeta attended to her family life and Nazrul Islam[disambiguation needed] died during the time. The industry was pronounced dead by the start of the new millennium. Syed Noor depressed at the sudden decline of cinema gathered investors for what was considered the only Pakistani film to have survived this chaos.
The year 1998 saw the release of Noor's Choorian, a Punjabi film that grossed 180 million rupees. Directors realised there was still hope and Javed Sheikh's Yeh Dil Aap Ka Huwa released in 2002 grossing over 200 million rupees (US $3.4 million) across Pakistan. The monetary prospects were then realised fully and for the first time in twelve years, investors starting taking keen interest in Pakistani films.
However, the short period of successes in the industry could not keep the cinemas afloat, and the same industry that at one time produced more than a 100 films annually a decade ago was now reduced to merely 32 per year, in the year 2003, with only one partial success called Larki Panjaban (A Punjabi Girl). In August, 2007, a new film titled Khuda Ke Liye was released. It became popular due to its controversial theme of the current problems faced in Pakistan. It was also released internationally, including in India, where it became the first Pakistani film released after four decades 
Revival under President Musharraf (2003–2009)
In early 2003, young filmmakers took on a stance to demonstrate that high quality content could be produced by the local film industry using the limited resources available. Cinema was declining in all major cities of the nation and a need for revival was echoed in the media. With privatisation of television stations in full swing, a new channel Filmazia was broadcast, primarily to broadcast films and productions made indigenously in the country. It was during this time that Mahesh Bhatt, a celebrated Indian director visited Pakistan looking for talent, particularly singers who could lend their voices to his upcoming films in India. His visit to Pakistan was to attend the third Kara Film Festival, for the screenings of his film Paap in Karachi. Bhatt would later hire Atif Aslam for the soundtrack of his film Zeher and Pakistani actress Meera to play a lead-role in one of his films.
Later in 2005, industry officials realised that the government needed to lift the ban for the screening of Bollywood films in Pakistan. The issue was voiced by the Film Producers Association (FPA) and the Cinema Owners Association (CAO) of Pakistan after the release of the colourised remastering of the 1960 classic Mughal-e-Azam. When the government turned down the request, Geo Films, a subsidiary of Geo TV took on itself to invest in upcoming Pakistani directorial ventures and dubbed their efforts “Revival of Pakistani Cinema” and on 20 July 2007 released Shoaib Mansoor's cinematic directorial début Khuda Ke Liye (In The Name of God). The film would later become the first Pakistani film since the imposition of the ban in 1965 to be released simultaneously in India and Pakistan. With its general release in India, the four decade ban was finally lifted. The film was released in more than a 100 cinemas in 20 cities in India.
Unbeknown to the local media scene, a Pakistani horror and gore film was already doing rounds in International film festivals. Another directorial début by director Omar Ali Khan, Zibahkhana aka Hell's Ground premièred at festivals throughout the world gaining repute as the ‘first extreme-horror gore flick’ and received accolade wherever it screened. The film ushered a revival in the horror genre for Pakistani films. The film would also be the first Pakistani film shot on HD. Where the horror genre seems to have been reincarnated in the industry, Freedom Sound, a science fiction film would use the computer-generated special effects for the first time since 1989's Shaani. The recent successes of issue-centered Pakistani films such has Khuda Ke Liye prompted director Mehreen Jabbar to come forth with her instalment with the release of Ramchand Pakistani which will mark the first true efforts of international collaboration towards the revival of cinema in Pakistan.
Future under President Zardari (2009–present)
Despite some optimism of a solid revival at the turn of the millennium, progress continues to be slow. Alongside Geo Films continued efforts with their 'Revival of cinema', the Pakistan New Cinema Movement was launched in 2009. With around 1400 members PNCM is a grassroots organization that facilitates networking and publishes articles to stimulate production.
Next up are filmstar Reema Khan's directorial project based on Paulo Coehlo's Veronica Decides to Die; filmstar Shan's directorial project Chup introducing model Juggun Kazim to the silver screen; Syed Noor's Price of Honor based reportedly on the Mukhtara Mai rape incident; Syed Noor and his wife Saima are working on a comedy Wohti le ke Jani Hai after the recorded breaking success of Majajan. Khamaj fame music video director Safdar Malik's directorial debut Ajnabi Sheher mein stars Nadeem, Samina Peerzada, Ali Zafar and Model Tooba Malik; Shehzad Gul's Iman starring Shan and Nirma, actor Humayun Saeed's debut production BALAA with the support of Vishesh Films (Mukesh and Mahesh Bhatt) to be directed by script writer of Indian films Woh Lamhe and Raaz the mystery continues; Shagufta Rafique (talks are on with Indian actress Tabu for the title role and Iman Ali and Juggan Kazim in Pakistan); Salman Peerzada's Zargul — a major festival circuit success might see mainstream release. Shoaib Mansoor is to bring his second film Bol with stars Atif Aslam, Mahira Khan and Juggan Kazim. Also coming are Syed Faisal Bokhari's Bhai Log; Shehzad Rafique's second film Mene Jeena Tere Naal with Veena Malik and Adnan Khan; TV producer Ejaz Bajwa's film directorial debut Channa Sachi Muchi starring Babar Ali, Momi Rana and Saima; Indo-Pak-American co-production Virsa starring Arya Babbar from India and Mehreen Raheal from Pakistan will be releasing in Pakistan and India after its world premier at the Dallas International Film Festival (the director, Pankaj Batra is Indian). Iqbal Kashmiri's second film Devdas remake of Indian film, Devdas, and Bengali novel, starring Zara Sheikh, Meera and Nadeem Shah. Son of Pakistan is based on terrorism in Pakistan and written, directed and produced by Jarar Rizvi; it features Shamyl Khan, Sana Nawaz and Meera in lead roles. Aamir Zafar, a filmmaking student, debuts as director with Victim which features Humayun Saeed and Irtiza Ruhab in lead roles. Syed Faisal Bukhari's second film Saltanat featuring Lollywood debut Mona Laizza (who also does an item number), Javed Sheikh and Ahsan Khan. Shaan Shahid's second film, script by Mashal Peezada featuring Vaneeza Ahmed and Natasha. Tamanna, a UK-Pakistani production shot entirely in Pakistan with the soundtrack featuring Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and written by veteran playwright Munnu Bhai is to be released in 2011.
In 2010, Bodhicitta Works, an initiative by Australian filmmaker Summer Nicks, Craig Peter Jones and Pakistani Canadian, Meher Jaffri (all Karachi-based) began production of 'Kolachi', a big budget, apocalyptic sci-fi feature in the same genre as Spielberg's Deep Impact. It stars British actor Nathaniel Antonio Lloyd, Australian Summer Nicks and Pakistani father-and-son actors Behroz Subzwari and Shahroz Subzwari, Hisham Aziz, Moiz Badshah, Fawad Khan, Saqib Khan and actress Meher Jaffri. The film was slated for an end-of-2011 release worldwide and will be directed by Pakistani, Mansoor Mujahid.
Decline of cinema theatres
Since 1995, the government of Pakistan has kept a close eye on the decrease of cinema halls and theatres in the country. Below is a chronological index of cinemas in Pakistan from 1995 to 2002. The country boasted 750 cinema theatres in 1990 (even more before then), but that number had declined to 175 by 2002. The remaining cinemas are reported to be in very poor condition, and in desperate need of attention. Numbers below do not include cinemas in Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas.
|Dera Ismail Khan District||3||3||3||3||3||3||3||3|
|Dera Ghazi Khan District||18||18||19||19||19||12||10||11|
|Mirpur Khas District||25||25||22||22||22||22||22||19||Islamabad Capital Territory|
Pakistan's first Cineplex
As a city, Karachi began to grow at a fast pace in the late 60's, and the price of the property shot up significantly. At the peak of Pakistani cinema industry in the mid 1970s, Karachi alone had more than 100 cinema halls and more than 200 films were produced and released each year. Now, fewer than ten of these houses remain. The same happened a little later in Lahore as well. This caused the film industry to lose a lot of revenue, making the industry even less attractive for investment. Many professional financiers left the cinema industry of Pakistan.
The Universal Multiplex in Karachi opened in 2002. The future viability of film-making business in Pakistan is evidenced by the fact that now many global companies are interested in investing in the theater business in the country. Cinepax is the first dedicated cineplex company in Pakistan. They are building the country’s first nationally branded cineplex chain. The firm says that it is dedicated to introduce a world-class, film-going experience to the people of Pakistan by building state-of-the-art film theaters in the urban areas. Cinepax will have multiple cinemas in each location and is committed to screening premium content in a family-friendly environment. Eventually, they intend to bring families back into the theaters by providing a quality experience, and assert that the multiplex culture can only help.
Cinepax is targeting the larger cities of Pakistan: Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Multan, and Hyderabad. Cinepax’s has an initial five-year build-out plan for the development of 120 screens.
Cinepax screens Hollywood films within a month of their international release dates. Cinepax will also screen the best of international and Pakistani cinema. Before the first cineplex opening, Cineplex’s sister distribution company will screen Hollywood content in the existing cinemas around Pakistan.
Films industries in Pakistan
Notable figures in the industry
Pakistani actors and actresses
- Ahmed Rushdi
- Inayat Hussain Bhatti
- Mehdi Hassan
- Masood Rana
- A Nayyar
- Akhlaq Ahmed
- Mujeeb Aalam
- Bashir Ahmad
- Saleem Raza
- Waris Baig
- Adnan Sami Khan
- Noor Jahan
- Irene Parveen
- Runa Laila
- Naheed Akhtar
- Naseem Begum
- Naheed Niazi
- Rahat Fateh Ali Khan
- Atif Aslam
- Ali Zafar
- Cinema of the world
- Nigar Awards - Pakistan's oldest film awards
- Kara Film Festival - International Film Festival held annually in Karachi
- Cinema in Karachi
- List of Pakistani films
- List of Pakistani actors
- List of Pakistani film actresses
- Billboards of Lahore
- Shahnoor Studios - One of the oldest film studios in Lahore
- The Beginner's Guide to Pakistani Cinema
- Ahmed Rushdi.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmed_Rushdi
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- Branigan, Tania (2004-02-13). "'My film is part of the peace process'". London: Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
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- "Lollywood's newest star is home boy". Bradford Telegraph and Argus. Retrieved 2008-07-04.
- "Trouble Jinnah movie opens". BBC World. 1998-09-26. Retrieved 2008-07-04.
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- "Review:Yeh Dil". Geo Funkar. Archived from the original on 2008-02-22. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
-  Filming across the divide
-  Pak. film 'Khuda Ke Liye' released in India
- Abbas, Zaffar (2003-01-28). "Lolywood's Happy Ending". BBC World. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- "I'm India's ambassador". ApunKaChoice. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
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- "Hell's Ground". NatFilm. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- "Hell's Ground aka Zibahkhana". Philadelphia Film Festival. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- http://www.defence.pk/forums/members-club/94921-karachi-apocalypse-film-kolachi.html From Karachi to apocalypse (Film: Kolachi), Pakistan Defence
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-  Pakistan's first cineplex chain
-  Cinepax goals
-  The Cinemas
- List Of Cinemas in Pakistan
- A Comprehensive Guide on Pakistani Cinema
- Official web site of Karachi film industry
- News about Lollywood
- The Central Film Censor Board of Pakistan - official site
- Pak Vision (Lollyood Movies)
- Landmarks in Pakistani Cinema
- FILMAZIA - TV Channel showing Lollywood movies
- Images of Lollywood through the ages
- The comeback of urdu cinema...Not
- Pakistan Film Magazine
- News articles (web based)
- Pakistani Film Industry Fights for Survival, Voice of America---2007
- First modern Pakistani horror movie
- BBC report on Pakistani Cinema 2003
- Pakistan's dilemma - Bollywood or bust? 2005
- Cinema's taboo on partition
- Reema In India
- First multiplex theatre inaugurated in Pakistan