Pakistan is the fifth largest producer of movies in the world. In pre-partition, Lahore emerged as one of the centers of a budding film industry. Existing traditions of Persian travel theatre, ancient storytelling, music, drama, and the growth of still photography contributed in opening of the society to the world of cinema.
The first theatre in Lahore was the Aziz Theatre, situated at Texali Gate, which was later converted in to a cinema called the Pakistan Talkies, while Shaukat Rizvi and Noorjehan started Pakistan’s first film studios, Shahnoor, in the early fifties. The first Pakistani film, Memories (Teri Yaada, 1948) came out in September 1948. Movies like Hichkolay (1949), Shahida (1949), Sachai (1949), Ghaltfehmi (1949), Pherey (1949) and Mundri (1949) followed Memories soon after. But Pakistan’s had to wait until 1950 to see its first blockbuster; Do Ansoo, inspired by Hakim Shuja’s story about the self-indulgence of society’s upper classes, had a 25-week run in cinemas.
In the early decades love, tragedy and melodrama ruled the silver screen. The 60’s is considered to be the ‘Golden Age’ of cinema in Pakistan. As color was introduced to films, movies like Union (Sangam, 1964), Woman (Naila, 1965) were hits. The 60’s also saw a new generation of film makers enter the industry, which brought with it new style, content and hits. This trend continued in the seventies where the work of Sangeeta, a stage name of a popular actor and director, needs a special mention. Her dictatorial debut, Society Girl was a huge success and she won The Nigar Award for both Best Director and Best Actress. The eighties and nineties saw the decline in filmgoers due to uncensored and smuggled video and satellite TV. The quality of cinema and storytelling also declined in the decade of the 80’s and 90’s. Violence, low comedy, and melo-drama entered cinema and pushed film goers even further.
The annual film production declined from 142 films in 1970 to barely 50 in 2005. The number of studios has come down from 11 in 1977 to 3 in 2006. Yet Lollywood survives. A generation of young filmmakers trained in TV and video production is turning to films. Works like Silence (Khamoshi) and The Death of Shahrukh Khan (Shahrukh Khan Ki Maut), Bol, Kudha Ke Liya were very successful ventures of recent years. Films are also seeing a revival as various film festivals have been introduced, like the Kara Film Festival, and Lahore International Children’s Film Festival.
Pakistan at the SAARC Film Festival:
At the recently concluded SAARC Film Festival 2013, Pakistan picked up a number of awards including:
Best Feature Film (Silver), Ram Chand Pakistani, Directed by Mehreen Jabbar
Best Documentary Film, Saving Face, Directed by Daniel Junge/Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy
Certificate of Recognition, Best Actor, Manzar Sehbai for Bol, and Rashid Farooqi for Ram Chand Pakistani.
To visit the website of Kara Film Festival please click here.
To visit the website for Lahore International Children’s Film Festival please click here.
Besides features films the new generation has also taken up the art of short film making, and documentary making. Please visit the site of Cineaste One, a Pakistani organization which encourages and promotes short filmmaking.
For more information on the Pakistani Film’s please click here.
Aijaz Gul, A short History of Pakistani Film, Cinemas of the South, Accessed at http://www.fipresci.org/world_cinema/south/south_english_asian_cinema_pakistan_history.htm.
Anya Kordecki, Lollywood: Turbulent History of Pakistani Cinema, Accessed at http://theculturetrip.com/asia/pakistan/articles/lollywood-turbulent-history-of-pakistani-cinema/
Zia Ahmed, A Short History of Cinema in Pakistan, Dear Cinema, 18th November, 2011, Accessed at http://dearcinema.com/article/a-short-history-of-cinema-in-pakistan/0803#