Fortunes and luck have been shifted, since the origin of Pakistan’s Film Industry, also known as the “Lollywood.” It has faced good luck, but it has suffered hard luck as well, and the determining factor has usually been the political landscape of that region. The concise past of this not-so-old industry had many key profiles of individuals who moved the industry or shook it to its core.
Pakistan’s film industry has managed to make Pakistan remain among the top 20 film producing countries in the world. It has been producing approximately 60 feature films per year. Before the separation of East and West Pakistan (Since 1971), Pakistan mainly had three centers for producing films. They were located in Lahore, Karachi, and Dhaka. The Lahore base of Lollywood was the largest and the most successful one. In 1971, after the formation of Bangladesh, Dhaka was taken away from Pakistan; however, it started its own film industry, which began to be known as “Dhallywood.”
The diversity in the culture of Pakistan has always been reflected and vividly depicted through its films. Despite the majority of Pakistani movies being in the Urdu language, many other languages have also been used; this includes Pushto, Panjabi, English, Sindhi, Saraiki, etc.
Despite all this, the target audience of Pakistani films is only Pakistani viewers. Since its start, little or no effort has been made to make the Pakistani movies see the international light. Just because of this, Lollywood failed to be a well-renowned industry, outside Pakistan.
Nazir Ahmed Khan- The Legendary Name of the Industry
Long before the idea of partition of India even stroked anyone’s brain, film production in Lahore has existed, and this later became the foundation of Pakistan as well. Born in 1910, and died in 1983, Nazir Ahmed Khan was an Indian-Pakistan film director, producer, and actor. This man worked on more than 200 films during the 55 years of his existence. He was the first fruitful male celebrity who was a success in united India and then in Pakistan as well. He was the pioneer of Pakistan’s film industry.
The First Success
Film production had to face a hard time of struggle, after the partition of 1947, and the formation of Pakistan. This was mainly due to a lack of filmmaking talent and equipment since most of the well-renowned directors and actors preferred to move to India.
Pakistan’s first-ever feature film, was filmed just after one year of separation (in 1948) it was called “Teri Yaad,” but it was 1950 when the film industry managed to produce its first-ever masterpiece, which was a massive success. The first success went by the name of “Do Ansoo.” The movie was inspired by Hakim Shuka’s story, which was about the upper class of this society, and their self-indulgence. The film ran for 25 weeks in Pakistani cinemas.
The Golden Age of the Industry
With the introduction of colored films in Pakistan, in the 1960s, these years began to be known as the golden age for the Pakistani Industry. In September of 1965, a full-fledge ban was imposed on the films produced in India. Consequently, the consumers for Pakistani movies increased massively. The 1970s brought a lot of new talent to Pakistan. As a result, there were successful films produced one after the other. One of the many masterpieces of this golden era included Kankganin (1969).
Syed Noor is said to be one of the best directors of Pakistan’s film industry, based in Lahore, and he has often given credit for the revival of the sector in the mid of 1990s. He has directed more than 40 films. His first success was the movie Qasam, which was released in 1992. His next successful movie was released in 1995, with the name of “Jeeva,” Both the films had extraordinarily exceptional storylines about the everyday life in our society, which was quite relatable.
The Downfall of Lollywood
Then came the dark ages, not just for the Pakistan Film Industry but also for entire Pakistan. This plague was called Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, who started to impose his Islamic policies, as soon as he made himself the President of Pakistan. In his dictatorship, new laws were enforced, which required Pakistani filmmakers to have certain degrees. Moreover, many cinemas were closed, and high taxation was imposed, which lead to the collapse of the film industry.
By the 90s, the production of films had decreased to less than 40 films per year. All movies were being produced from a single studio because any other film production had to be independent of the studio and had to be financed by the makers of the film themselves. Only a few filmmakers managed to survive these crises.
The Present and Future of Pakistan’s Film Industry.
Pakistani film Industry, slowly and steadily made the revival after this deadly plague of Pakistan’s history was over. As of today, Indian movies have been banned in Pakistan, and this is the golden opportunity for Lollywood to fill the void that this has left. In recent years, Pakistani rom-com has not been up to the standard that the consumers are accustomed to, but a lot of potentials is found in the industry.
The major flaw in the films that are being produced nowadays is that the movie has drifted away from depicting everyday life and culture of an ordinary Pakistani and has started to get inspiration from Bollywood and Hollywood. We genuinely need to make our industry success and to do, we need to get inspiration from the legends of the past, and depict Pakistani culture. This way, the movies produced will be more relatable, and the viewership has a very high chance of increasing. In addition to that, Pakistan can start making movies of Netflix quality, and dub them in different languages, so that international viewership might also increase.
Thus, if all these factors are considered, the Pakistani industry can return to its former glory in no time, because the potential is still present, but the artists have not realized this yet.