Friday, March 17, 2023

Analysis of Pakistani cinema and improvements in comparison to other countries

Pakistani cinema or movies if you will is an art of story medium which has been used for very long years. When you think of the film industry what comes to mind for an average mainstream Joe, they will eventually think of Bollywood or Hollywood. Because these 2 juggernauts always were in a driving seat pushing the boundaries of not only Pakistan but the world like these industries to solidify themselves as the pop culture icon. There hasn’t been a single icon in our industry that is memorable other than Maul Jutt and that’s it. Films inspire us motivates us, make us laugh and cry at the same time.

The moment sticks out to us like a knife in the gut. That’s not saying that our industry was in ruins. The classical era of Noor Jahan and many iconic actors worked in a golden era of the cinema such classic movies like Heer Raja, Do anshon, Naseeb apna apna, Arman, and many more. These were the golden age of Pakistan cinema who has reached critical acclaim internationally and national level, then what happened. Due to political reasons and strict censorship laws and the directors requiring the film degrees they really toned it down and lost their interest in making a film.

The Punjabi film Maula Jutt really took the country with its iconic figure and arrogant status and his iconic Axe which have become a staple for our pop culture. The movie also suffered from censorship and was banned in this country but the ban was lifted. It’s not that our country doesn’t have pop culture icons, there are some likes of Madam Noor Jahan and now Maula Jut. On our opposite side, Bollywood was producing these iconic stars and characters and dialogues that were becoming famous in our country as well so there go our popularity and our cinema.

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Pakistani cinema T.V series and Bollywood inception:

So when our cinema struggled to make ends meet even Hollywood airing their movies on our screens it was niche then and it was niche now. So other than Hollywood what filled that void, the answer is TV series

These TV series have become the staple of our pop culture the icons of our country with many classics like Dhuwan, Alif Noon and Alpha Bravo Charlie also Ainak wala Jinn these entertained our masses and we were craving for more, as the cinema industry who were close to dead struggled to get into the theater even with the Hollywood backing up the movies in the cinema, It was futile effort to create the magic as once was the golden era of Lollywood, which was the answer to Bollywood and Hollywood. Anyhow these Golden eras of T.V series helped to sustain the quality of entertainment.

Now fast forward to the 2000s or the late 90s we would see the rise of cable network channels like GEO, ARY, HUM TV channels there was an intense competition between channels and the channels fought each other to get huge PR ratings. Dramas like Humsafar, Zindagi Gulzar hai, etc. captivated this new audience with their Iranian artistic design and sets. When these Series became popular the directors came to play, directors like Sarmad Khoosat, Nabeel Qureshi, JAMI just to name a few.

In the year 2006, the ban was lifted against Bollywood and the screening of the once our enemy is being shown to our big screen, it was just a business move so that our cinema could thrive on once more. Not only the move was a success but also made Pakistan the biggest Bollywood market worldwide, alongside Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The movies sold out the cinemas worldwide and were packed as the audience enjoyed the movies of Khans, Kapoor’s, and Bacchans as they were the stars that our audience paid to see.

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The new wave of Pakistan wave of cinema or the revival of cinema.

As the Bollywood success in our country and cinema starting to see the new light of the day. Our directors started to capitalize the market, as they say in the popular line from Dead Poet’s society” Carpe diem”. Seize the moment. As the directors would grab this moment and started to make the films for the masses. This term is known as the revival of cinema.

The movie Khuda kay Liyay was the pivotal movie for the success of the industry and took it to the new level. But there was one movie that took filmmaking to the greater levels, the movie was Called “Waar” which broke the broke the box office from the country that was aired in, after that the movies like Zinda Bhaag was released which garnered the lot of acclaimed and was the first entry of the film to the academy awards but wasn’t nominated.

The director Nabeel Qureshi entered in the world of Pakistan cinema and made movies after movies to help this dying industry, his movies like Actor in Law, Na Maloom Afrad, and Load wedding were success, with its social theme and economics his Bollywood style of filmmaking garnered a lot of praise from the audience. But there was a dark side of the industry, the repetitive storylines and forced romance rubbed people a wrong way and most people criticized the industry for its use of the Bollywood influence.

I am not saying it’s a bad thing but we have to come up with original content, the lack of exposure to the world cinema and strong censorship it is been difficult to make a movie with these limitations and lack of producers not taking the risk and going towards the commercial cinema these independent filmmakers are struggling to find the common ground. According to Nabeel Qureshi that we don’t need parallel cinema because the audience are not ready for the gritty and realism to be portrayed in this reviving industry.

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What can we learn from world cinema?

There were a lot of good movies from the world, other than Hollywood and Bollywood here are the tips that the up and comers can learn from world cinema:

Korean cinema:

Korean cinema has come the long way, from the directors like Kim-Ki-Duk to Park Chan-wook to the Oscar winner Bong-Joon-Ho. They are what you call the Korean new wave which started from 1998, the Korean movies themes consists of class divides, crime, thrillers and Horror focusing on the subject matters like grief and sorrow to thought provoking elements.

The censorship laws were relaxed and the freedom that were given to their film directors, well they made most of it. The foreign movies were aired in the country giving the future filmmakers more exposure to the movies, they made acclaimed movies which rivaled that of Hollywood and gave the edge to the Bollywood. The movies like Oldboy, I saw the Devil, Brotherhood of war and parasite pushed the boundaries of Korean filmmaking. Pakistan filmmaker’s needs exposure to watch these films in order to make a compelling characters, and improve melodramas to make it digestible for the average watchers.

Iranian Cinema:

The cinema is quite similar to ours, both were going through censorship laws but the laws are stricter than that of Pakistan. Both writers and directors suffers from restriction and creative freedom, the only difference is that our drama industries have some stories to tell but our scriptwriter are using Bollywood troupes to earn money. There has been a divide in our industry that separates two ideologies, these being the commercial and art films.

The films despite of the stricter laws focuses on the beauty of Iranian filmmaking, the direction and cinematography is great and the visual storytelling is out of the world. The filmmakers and script writers touch on the social issues and society that are adaptable to their censor board criteria. They also focus in their culture and traditions that makes any Pakistan filmmaker jealous, their slow minimalist approach and realism had made them an international names.

The directors like Asghar Farhadi isn’t just any director, he received countless awards from the international criteria and the Oscars for his movies like “A separation “and the salesman which made the conversation of best foreign film categories. His script doesn’t have any vulgarity or Nudity but have some elements of taboo which makes the audience think in the thought provoking manners. The father of Iranian cinema Abbas Kiarostami has made the critical acclaimed movies like the close-up and taste of cherry in the 90s that is still considered to be classic cinema. The point is instead of making the poor slapstick of Bollywood that was popular in the 90s we need to learn from them and how to represent our cinema in realistic and raw emotions.

Turkish Cinema:

The Turkish entertainment has took our country by storm, because of the TV series Erutugul. The Turkish serials were always popular in our country but what vowed the audience was the production Design and colorful settings. The cinema of Turkish was something new to the audience of Pakistan the films was aired on Netflix and other streaming platform even cinemas that acts as the alternative to the banned Bollywood films like the Miracle in Cell no.7 was the smash hit not only in turkey but worldwide, although it is a good remake there are other films like the filmography of Nuri bilge Ceylan like once upon a time in Anatolia, Winter sleep and Uzak.

Our Pakistan cinema can learn a lot from this format it is literally at our door step the beautiful and colorful production design can be an eye candy for many audiences and can be inspiring to others to venture into this profession.


There are many industries that we can learn from other than Hollywood like Japanese, Hong Kong and European cinemas the point is that the Pakistan cinema industry is taking flight. With new directors and actors even Turkish one are helping out we have the brighter future. We need to build more cinemas and have our own streaming platforms to showcase our talents.

The industry needs our own rating system to meet the criteria of censor board and that’s how you will have creative freedom and who knows maybe one day we will have that international presence worldwide.

pakistani cinema

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