The cinema of Pakistan refers to Pakistan’s film industry. Most of the feature films shot in Pakistan are in Urdu language but may also include films in Punjabi, Pashto, Balochi or Sindhi languages. It is all mainly in Lahore and fondly they call it Lollywood on the line of Bollywood. Before partition in 1947, Lahore was a major film center where as early as the 1920s silent movies were made. The first film of Pakistan was made by Mr. Lal, released in 1948, Teri Yaad in Urdu language. It didn’t succeed at box office but Lahore kept going on. The very next venture was in Punjabi named Pharey in 1949. After that the journey of Punjabi cinema continued and never looked back.
Punjabi films audience had been mainly rural but with great growth of cities in Punjab Pakistan of 70s and 80s.There was a time in Punjabi films up to possibly mid 70s when the quality was still ok but after that it began to deteriorate much. Strangely Pakistani politics is always poking its nose in film people’s life and constantly pressuring them to do this and that. This has caused major damage to the growth of Pakistani and in particular Punjabi cinema.
General Zia deposed Bhutto and the things were not bright after that for Pakistani films as he virtually killed the cinema. Many movies were re-shot because of the ban on excessive romance etc. By 70s films in Lahore became too commercial and producers had to coop with few talented actors. Punjabi cinema has changed its shape with the passage of time. We will look here what sort of changes has been observed over the years.
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Change in trends according to Genre:
Topics and themes of Punjabi films have never been same through out the history of 60 years. Every decade has over shadow by different film genre; which are as follows:
Era of 50s:
Pakistani films were entertaining the masses and were reflective of changing socio-economic trends. During the 50s, society was overwhelmingly agrarian and urbanization had not picked up. Therefore, most films revolved around the romances between shehri (urban) babus and rural beauties, or old Nawab families’ domestic conspiracies. Of course, a few films like Kartar Singh excellently portrayed the tragedies of Punjab’s partition, but these films were exceptions. Chanway was a block buster. It was the first Pakistani film to be directed by a woman, Madam Noor Jehan.
Era of 60s:
60s is known as the golden era of film history. The film trend changed during 60s, when most Punjabi movies mainly concentrated on class contradictions. The most popular films of that era portrayed the struggle of the oppressed classes. A few anti-colonialism films like Nizam Lohar, Jabro and Malangi were also big hits at the box office. Punjabi films were the harbinger of the great uprising of 1968-70 led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The slogans of this movement were largely derived from the revolutionary themes prevailing in the film industry.
Era of 70s:
In 70s Punjabi cinema was still doing well with themes like romance in block buster Heer Ranjha. But gradually with political upheaval in the country themes of the movies also changed their shape.
Era of 80s:
Cinema of 80s was only dominated by just one genre and that is violance, action and crime. In 79 the release of Maulla Jutt brought the sudden change in Punjabi cinema and soft romantic immage of Punjab has tottly changed into Gandasa culture.
Era of 90s to onwards:
Gandassa culture introduced by Moulla Jutt influenced badly on Punjabi films even the films of 90s and 2000 are still under its influence. Chorian, Majajun and Mohabtan sachian are exceptions. Violance and crime are still major film generes.
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Music of Punjabi films:
Punjabi films have always producing good music even the 1st Pakistani film Pherey was a musical film. Each decade has its own speciallity in music:
Music of 50s:
Madam Noor Jehan with her sweet melodious voice mesmerise the audience with her ever green song “Mundya Sialkotia”. Situational romantic songs were speciallity of this era.
Music of 60s:
60s had its own rich musical flavor dominated by Noor Jehan’s melodious voice. Innayat Hussian Bhatti also added flover to the music of 60s with his folk songs chan mery Makhna and Chik tan lai are milestone of 60s music.
Music of 70s:
At the start of 70 block buster Heer Ranjha’s romantic music mesmerise the listners. Jadon holi jae laina mera naa, wanglee walia and cahl chaliay dunya dy us nukray are still in memories of listners.
Music of 80s:
80s was the time of decline in film music. Unsituational songs and vulgur lyrics became part of music.
Music of 90s:
Music of 90s has variation in it. On one side hit music of Chorian captures the attention of listners and on the other hand 3rd rated songs also manopolise the Punjabi cinema.
Fashion In Punjabi Films:
Fashion in films has did not changed much of its shape over the period of time. Lacha and kurta is a part of Punjabi Films from the very 1st day.
Charectarization of Heroes and Heroines in Films:
Rdical change in charectarization of hero and heroines in Punjabi movies could be seen after Moulla Jutt. Charectarization according to each decade is given below:
Before Moulla Jutt:
From 50s to 79 Charectariztion of heros and Heroines was according to the situation and story of film. Majority of the heroes were soft Spoken, good looking and gentleman like Sudheer and Ijaz.
Simllarly Heroines wetre also portrayed as Jutti and bold and beautiful.
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After Moulla Jutt:
After Moulla Jutt heroes became expressionless, ordinary loking and aggressive like Sultan Rahi.
Heroines were still presented as Jutti but in minor roles. Emphasis was on the male character.
Titels of the Movies:
Titels of the movies were according to the theme of the movie. Moreover nice delicate titels were given to the movies like Heer Ranjha, Mundri, Pulkan, Yakke Wali etc.
After Moulla Jutt titels of the movies became redicullous. As majority of the movies were made on the single individual representing certain cast or criminal so titels were also representing them like Atif Chohdry, Dada badmash, Gujjar da intiqam, Hmayoun Gujjar etc.
Dances of the Films:
Since 50s to 79 dances of the film were according to situation and songs. Both hero and heroines used to perform on song. But after 79 Heroine was the only one who dance on song in very indecent manner while hero standing still without any expression holding Gandassa.
Rise of Punjabi cinema:
With the release of Maulajut in 1979, which tells the story of its eponymous hero’s blood feud with the local gangster Noori Nath, the 1980s saw the rise of the Punjabi film industry and growing censorship, which slowly killed off the Urdu film industry. Punjabi cinema over-shadowed the large screen, boosted by the growth of Punjab’s smaller towns and large-scale rural-urban migration. Violence, rather than sex, becomes the driving force of films as middle-class audiences drift away from increasingly dilapidated and rowdy cinemas.
The icons of this new Cinema were Sultan Rahi and his statuesque counterpart in countless films, Anjuman. At the same time, soft core pornography becomes the forte of Pushto films, courtesy of Musarrat Shaheen, Chakori and powerful politicians whose cinemas are able to get around the censor’s sharp scissors. This Gundasa culture and milled pornography threw away the soft and romantic image of Lollywood.
Downfall of Cinema:
There are several reasons for the downfall of Punjabi cinema. Some of them are as follows:
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Lack of Professionalism
Lack of aesthetic sense
Lack of Finance
Lack of technical and other resources
Lack of creativity
No support of Government
Attempts to revive the Punjabi cinema:
Over the past 30 years Punjabi cinema has never come out of the influence of Moulla Jutt. For last thirty years 1000s of Punjabi movies came on screen having same stories with different titles. This led down the keen cinema observer. People lost interest in Punjabi movies. But now some of the credible directors of industry attempted to revive the legacy of cinema by making relatively soft and romantic movies like Chorian, Majajun, Zil e Shah and Mohabtan sachian etc. But these attempts are few and far between still a lot has to be done.
Future of Punjabi Films:
Well the feature film industry in Punjabi language can become a major one like Tamil or Hindi Film industry if our people have joint productions where people from India and Pakistan join hands. There are impressive script writers in Lahore, really very talented actors from Pakistan and by making joint ventures with Indian film people; we can get really good quality Punjabi pictures.
The reason is that there is a huge market of over 100 Million Punjabis in India Pakistan UK USA and Canada.
If we go for joint ventures, and governments in Delhi and Islamabad leave the artistic people alone, we can avoid lot of wastage, avoid plagiarism, copying and on top of all stop the piracy.
If educated and professional people make good movies with good script then surely cinema will regain its glory.
Cinema & Society
Mam Shazia Hashmat