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Pakistan's Thriving Entertainment Industry

By Ahsan Aziz

The revival of the Pakistani entertainment industry has brought with it colourful cinematic adventures for everyone to enjoy. With quality no less than Hollywood movies, the new generation is finally changing the film landscape of Pakistan and television shows have begun to explore the depths necessary to our society. Let’s have a look at the journey that brought us here...

Many of the producing studios for films are based in Karachi and Lahore, but back in the 1940s, almost all of them were in Lahore. The first-ever Pakistani produced film was Teri Yaad which was directed by Daud Chand in 1948. The film attracted huge audiences at the time, and more movies were produced and released. The industry struggled to find its pace, however, and films died down. New hope came to town when new studios found their feet and a new generation of actors, actresses and producers came to the limelight. The Pakistani public was ready for another spectacle of talent.

The 1960s is often referred to as being the golden age of Pakistani cinema. Many stars were introduced during this period who then went on to become cinema legends. As black-and-white subsided, Pakistan saw the introduction of first colour films. Some that share the status of being firsts are Munshi Dil's Azra in the early 1960s, Zahir Raihan's Sangam (first full-length coloured film) released on 23 April 1964, and Mala (first coloured cinemascope film). In 1962 Shaheed was released which brought the Palestine conflict to Pakistanis in cinemas and became an instant hit. In 1962, Pakistan's most talented actor Mohammad Ali debuted in Charagh Jalta Raha. It was premiered by Fatima Jinnah on 9 March 1962 at Nishat Cinema in Karachi. Realising the potential, Waheed Murad stepped into the industry. In 1966, Armaan was released and became one of the most cherished Urdu films to ever hit the silver screen. The film is said to have given birth to Pakistani pop music, by introducing playback singing legends like composer Sohail Rana and singer Ahmed Rushdi. The film became the first to complete a 75-week screening at cinemas.

In 2003, after a period of difficulty for the industry, young Pakistani filmmakers also began experimenting with low-cost films to show the others that high-quality films can be produced with a low budget and limited resources. Singers like Atif Aslam and talented actors like Reema and Sahiba were signed for films. In August 2007, famed director Shoaib Mansoor created a film called Khuda Ke Liye, which was a straight hit in the box office that brought the middle class back to the cinema. It focused on Pakistan’s social problems and was appreciated within and beyond the country. A few years later, Shoaib Mansoor created his second film, starring superstar Mahira Khan and Atif Aslam, reiterating the prevalence of social issues and how we can tackle them called Bol.

While the film industry has had its fair share of ups and downs, Pakistan’s drama industry has remained a worldwide favourite. Iconic shows of the 2000s include Humsafar, which was, in fact, translated into Arabic for Middle Eastern fans, Zindagi Gulzar Hai, depicting empowered women in their fight for justice and Dastaan, starring Fawad Khan and Sanam Baloch. This brought new stars to the limelight, and important social themes like feminism, social injustice and familial relations were critically discussed.

In recent years, the Pakistani film industry has seen massive successes. Matured stars like Mahira Khan and Adnan Siddiqui have worked with direction talent and produced some amazing content. In 2013, seven new films were produced, putting the Pakistani film industry back on the map. Hum Films, ARY Films and 7th Sky Entertainment were the main production houses taking it upon themselves to bring Pakistani cinema back to the world. Masterpieces like Superstar, Teefa in Trouble and Janaan were instant hits. One of the most famous films was Parwaaz Hai Junoon, a tribute to the Pakistani Air Force. The movie highlighted the efforts and sacrifices of the armed forces, and reflected a high quality of direction and cinematography.

The drama industry has also shown great improvement, with innovative shows. Ehd-e-Wafa, a much-loved drama detailed the lives of three friends, all going about different ways of life. The show was very well-acclaimed by the public and critics alike. On a more serious front, shows like Pyar ke Sadqay and Udaari have highlighted the discrepancies in our society and allowed us to explore different genres of work. Another very well-received show was Yaqeen ka Safar, which looked at the varying lifestyles of individuals in three different phases of life. Their intertwining stories caught the public’s attention, and highlighted Pakistan’s potential.

What are some of your favourite shows?

(Edited by Myra Ahmed)

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