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Inception of Pakistani Cinema

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Inception of Pakistani Cinema

Immediately after partition, shortage of filming equipment meant that the newly found state of Pakistan could not produce it’s first moving picture for quite some time. Once this hurdle was overcome in 1948 with the production of Teri Yaad, it stimulated the industry to produce a string of memorable films over the following decade.

Black and white figures fluttering across the screen would allure audiences in significant numbers thereby giving birth to the passion for motion pictures in the people of this generation. With romantic thrillers being the only genre of this era, the films would be densely crammed with slow yet melodious songs. These would often be coupled with sessions of mild torture for the audience in the form of dance performances that generally involved the actresses circling around the lead actors, racing to every corner of the screen rather than actually dancing. Despite such excruciating spectacles the socio-political instability and unrest of the country meant that anything that involved music and affairs of the heart (no matter how tormenting) would be adored by the public. Owing to this pitiful fact not only did these movies gain success but they even contributed to the success of the industry. [pic 1]

The Golden era of the industry

In the 60s the Pakistani film industry stepped into what was the golden era of filmmaking for the country. The success of this era was so substantial that in 1965 the government would impose a ban on screenings of Indian films which led to a tremendous increase in the audiences of Pakistani movies. Being fully self reliant on production of motion pictures brought a wealth of new talent into the industry. Despite losing Dhaka as a major production centre in 1971 the industry would continue to prosper, so much so that films that were once restricted to Urdu and Punjabi would now be produced in pure Sindhi and Pashto as well.

Soon into the 60s as black and white productions became obsolete, Pakistan saw the introduction of color films. The attraction of this feature paired with the magnetism of industry legends such as Noor Jehan inspired people to discover the passion for Moving pictures. The defining element of this era was that the industry was now successfully producing films in numerous genres. Despite romance and drama still being the pedigree of the industry, films based on international politics such as shaheed (based on Palestine) were also well executed and well acknowledged. In this regard it seems disappointing that there was no apparent progress as far as dancing was concerned with the exception that it was now mandatory to pair the dances with songs that consisted of earsplitting shrills and deafening musical notes.

The Downfall and Collapse

The doom of the Pakistani film industry ran parallel with President Zia-ul-Haq’s regime. Despite the fact that his tenure ended with his death in 1988, the declension of the industry continued even into the 21st century.

In Zia’s regime movie-makers were deprived of any liberty regarding what to include in their films to avoid the movies having any socio-political consequences. Measures to ensure this protocol was followed included laws requiring film makers to be degree holders. New forms of taxes were introduced such as entertainment taxes causing investors to lose faith in the industry. As though such policies were not enough to halt the progress of the industry, strict laws were imposed regarding on screen romance which deprived the industry of the genre that it specialized in hence ensuring that it’s progress was rearward.

[pic 2]

Had Zia just put an end to film-making in Pakistan it would have been devastating yet it would have allowed the industry to retire with dignity. Instead his policies resulted in something even more tragic. As there were growing censorship policies against displays of affection rather than violence, the violence-ridden Punjabi films prevailed and overshadowed the Urdu cinema. In this generation movies would be jam-packed with deplorable action sequences, most of which involved the lead actors facing off against battalions of villains in a fist fight and still emerging victorious without a scratch. Perhaps the movie-makers found the sound of fire crackers arousing and stimulating so they ended up dubbing it in place of slaps, punches, kicks and pretty much any other sound that is normally heard whilst witnessing a fight. As far as firearms were concerned the hero was always too noble to use dirty tricks and too mighty to rely on them. On the other hand the villains were so incapable when it came to using firearms that it is a wonder how they even managed to grip them. Since such epic blockbusters were the only thing the industry could manage to come up with, the crowd in cinemas became increasingly rowdy causing the passion of going to cinemas to drop considerably.[pic 3]

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