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November 23, 2017

A short history of cinema (1947-2017)


November 23, 2017

Islamabad :Pakistan came into being in 1947. What is Pakistan today was a centre of film making from back in the thirties. Lahore had three film studios, actors, directors, cinemas, distribution office and all the rest. It was Northern Circuit of regional Punjabi films as well as Urdu/Hindi films. After 1947, almost all film talent from Hindu community migrated to India (Mumbai) and some Muslim talent from India migrated to Pakistan (Lahore).
The studios damaged during the 1947 riots were renovated, refurbished and rebuilt. This was the second beginning of film making here (the first one in the thirties). The fifties saw emergence of new directors, actors and composers who worked along who were working here in the forties or who migrated from India. It also saw construction of new studios (Evernew and Bari in Lahore and Eastern at Karachi). Eveready and Shabab bloomed as major distribution concerns.
The sixties saw new air conditioned cinemas, more studios and fresh crop of film makers who were earlier assisting old masters. This was also beginning of colour films in 1964(in Dhaka ) and 1965 (in Lahore). 1965 War with India led to ban on screening of India films (a blessing in disguise as it apparently gave protection to local films but damaged the potential with umbrella and lack of competition).
The seventies saw dismemberment of Pakistan. East Pakistan was separated from West and became Bangladesh, an independent nation. Over 150 cinemas were lost and much more. But 1970s also became our golden period with more cinemas and studios in Lahore and Karachi. Pakistan made 111 films with 700 cinemas and eight studios at Lahore and Karachi. National Film Development Corporation was set up by the government for promotion of film industry with better film imports and better film making at home.
Illegal, pirated, smuggled and uncensored video entered in the eighties. Cinemas were turned into shopping centres and wedding halls. Studios were turned into

warehouses or small housing colonies. Senior film talent left the film world or retired.
Violence entered the films and the leftovers in the film trade went for meaningless action films full of vengeance and vendetta. Good scripts and popular music vanished. In 2007, with digital technology, import of Indian films, emergence of new talent from TV and construction of multiplexes came which goes on to this day. It has been a big change. Socially relevant and thought provoking films by Shoaib Mansoor like ‘Khuda Key Leye’, ‘Bol’ and now ‘Verna’ in 2017 are challenging the ills of society with ruthless reality and relevance. Today, more new films are being launched at Karachi and few in Lahore. New multiplexes are coming up and talent from TV is being added. Independent TV networks are also helping in making, marketing and distribution. One can look with hope for better future.
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