Pakistani cinema is experiencing a revolution of sorts and we’re all very excited about the fresh concepts that our young filmmakers are bringing to the big screen.
However, long before this talk about revival of Pakistani cinema started, the country had a vibrant film industry at par with any other movie market in the world.
In this piece, we’ll relive the golden days of Pakistani cinema and recommend 5 films from that era that you absolutely must watch!
In no particular order, here they are!
Mera Naam Hai Mohabbat
Inspired from Eric Segal’s timeless novel, Love Story, “Mera Naam Hai Mohabbat” is a beautiful tale of love, sacrifice and loss. It was released in 1975 marking the debut of Babra Sharif and Ghulam Mohiuddin, making them stars overnight. Directed by Shabab Keranvi, the film not only enjoyed success in Pakistan but also met with commercial and critical acclaim in China. The film’s musical score was an instant hit and “Yeh Duniya rahay na rahay mere hamdam” and “Tujhe pyar karte karte meri umar beet jaye” continue to live on even three decades later.
Umrao Jan Ada
Umrao Jan Ada is one fictional character that South Asia cannot get enough of! Every few decades a Pakistani or Indian filmmaker tries his/her hands on re-creating Umrao Jan for contemporary audiences. However, of all the versions of Mirza Ruswa’s novel that I’ve seen, Hasan Tariq’s 1972 rendition is by far my favourite. Rani and Shahid as the doomed lovers give one of their most memorable performances while the soundtrack surprises you with one haunting melody after another. A class act all the way!
There can never be a list of Pakistani classics that does not include Armaan. Following its release in 1966, Armaan became the first Pakistani film to complete 75 weeks in cinemas, making it the country’s first platinum jubilee outing on the big screen. This Pervez Malik directorial was a romantic drama that will not only be remembered for Waheed Murad and Zeba’s endearing performances but also for Sohail Rana’s music. Enjoy a trip down memory lane with the evergreen song, Akelay Na Jana!
Released in 1977, Aina was an instant hit. The powerhouse performances by the evergreen couple, Nadeem and Shabnam coupled with a script that dealt with the ups and downs of married life, this film captured the hearts of the audiences across the board. To this day no Pakistani film has been able to break its record of a 401 week theatrical run! Wow!
I had first seen Aina in the early 90’s when I was just a kid. However, having seen it again as an adult put me off a little because of the sexist treatment of its script. That said, where the script might not agree with 21st century sensibilities Robin Ghosh’s music – ah the music! oh the music! – will keep you hooked. From “Kabhi mein sochta hoon” to “Mujhy dil sy na bhulana” to “Roothay ho tum tum ko kaisay manaoon piya” every song is a classic unto itself.
Munawar Zareef was undoubtedly a gifted comedian who could make you laugh out loud with every dialogue that he was given to utter. His impeccable comic timing had made him one of the most sought out actors of his time. As a film lover, Jeera Blade stands out as one of Zareef’s most memorable performances.
Released in 1973, Jeera Blade was an Urdu-Punjabi bilingual comedy about a master pick pocket. Needless to say it won many hearts upon its release and shall be remembered by cine lovers for its non-stop humour and important social messages.
All these films are available on YouTube and if you’re a true movie buff, binge watching them over the weekend is in order!