a short guide to notable pakistani films
Teri Yaad (1948)
The first Pakistani film ever released, starring Nasir Khan -- brother of
Bollywood legend Dilip Kumar.
Chan Way (1951)
The first Pakistani film directed by a woman, famous singer and actress
Hugely popular soundtrack; lyrics, composition and playback singing all
by Basheer Ahmed. Heavily influenced by Hindi hit "Jab Jab Phool Khile."
Baharain Phir Bhii Ayengi (1969)
Music composed by Pakistan's first female music director, though the most
popular song on the soundtrack is plagiarized from the song "Aajkal
Tere Mere Pyaar Ke Charche" from the Hindi film "Brahamachari."
Aina ( 1977)
One of the most popular Pakistani films ever; ran for four years in theaters.
International Gorillay (1990))
based on the "Satanic Verses" controversy; the villain, played
by Afzal Ahmad, is modeled on writer Salman Rushdie!
Yeh Dil Aap Ka Huwa (2002)
A superhit of recent years, available on VHS (and DVD if you're lucky)!
To find out more about Pakistani cinema
film actors, most notably Amitabh Bachchan, carp that to call their cinema
"Bollywood" is to imply that it is but an imitation of Hollywood.
(We at BollyWHAT? think "Bollywood" is just a handier name than
"popular Hindi cinema," but hey, who are we to challenge the Big
B?) Even if Mr. Bachchan is right, most people would agree that the Urdu
and Panjabi film industry based in Lahore, Pakistan, takes not Hollywood
but Bollywood as its guiding inspiration when it terms itself "Lollywood."
For that reason, it seems natural to include the industry in a survey of
Alas, Indians tend to sneer openly at Lollywood. "The Pakistani film
industry is almost non-existent," says Bollywood director Mansoor Khan.
"They make some very loud, garish films which are mindless copies of
our C-list films. No actor can take Pakistani films seriously. It's a pity
how they thrive only on Hindi films. If they haven't made their presence
felt in 50 years, the industry doesn't have a great future." (Hindustan
Times, July 7, 2001)
One could argue that Indians' widespread contempt for Pakistan's cinema
is motivated by the ongoing political enmity between the two nations. However,
Pakistanis seem to agree with Indians' assessment of Lollywood. In Screen
India, writer Javed Siddiqui describes a visit to Pakistan in which weddings
revolved around tunes from Bollywood blockbuster Hum Aapke Hain Koun?, where
Shahrukh Khan and Karisma Kapoor ruled filmfans' hearts, and antakshari
competitions (in which a contestant sings a verse of a song and stops abruptly,
and the next contestant must sing a different song that begins with the
word the last contestant ended on) featured solely Hindi film tunes.
Lollywood's actors and singers seem to concur with the
general populace's opinion. Several have tried to break into Indian film,
with limited success. Pakistani actress (and American-born) Somy Ali has
starred opposite Bollywood heavyweight Jackie Shroff, but is still better
known as the NYC-living ex-girlfriend to whom Salman Khan flies when things
with Aish aren't working out. Zeba Bakhtiar won a lead role in Randhir Kappor's
critically acclaimed Henna, and later featured in the famous "Pardesi
Pardesi" song in Raja Hindustani, but hasn't gotten any offers since.
Kapoor voices the stereotypical ideas about Pakistani actors when he muses
to the Hindustan Times, "Zeba was a beautiful girl. She had the perfect
peaches-and-cream complexion but she had major inhibitions. She couldn't
emote, she had a deadpan face. And her face was very traditional, so she
didn't work well in western roles. We have so many talented young people
around in India, we don't have to look beyond borders." Meanwhile,
Pakistani singer Adnan Sami, who shot to fame in Bollywood with his rendition
of "Mehbooba Mehbooba" in the film Ajnabee, perhaps voices the
rationale for trying to hit it big in India when he says, "Pakistani
film playback is not at all a lucrative career because the films don't do
well commercially. As an artiste, I wouldn't want to be associated with
Pakistani films." (Hindustan Times, July 7, 2001)
film has not always been such an endangered species. In the 70s and early
80s, the industry boasted eleven studios that produced over a hundred films
annually. But in the face of stiff competition via the recent spread of
cable television and the influx of pirated Bollywood videos, Lollywood's
annual output has dropped to forty films -- produced by a single studio.
(www.commonwealth.org.uk) Perhaps Siddiqui sums up the situation best when
he tells Screen India, "The Pakistani film industry is in shambles.
Their studios dont even have proper tripods. A good Pakistani film
is made on a budget of Rs one crore or thereabouts. My friends were stunned
when I told them that in Hindi films, that kind of money would hardly suffice
to sign a big star."