I remember when I was a child I used to go with my aunts and elder sisters to watch movies in Lahore’s cinema halls. There used to be separate shows for women. Until 1965, the Indo-Pak War films were being exhibited in Pakistan. I watched Madhubala-Prem Nath starrer film ‘Badal’, Raj Kapoor-Nargis starrer ‘Barsaat’, Madhubala-Dilip Kumar’s ‘Tarana’ and ‘Sangdil’ etc. These used to be packed shows. In these black and white movies, music was the main attraction for me. Nascent Pakistani films were struggling to compete with these films with their low budgets and ancient technical facilities. At that time, their producers and directors efforts were not really appreciated that much. Now looking back and watching these movies and listening to their songs amaze me that how much was created with such little resources available to them. Lahore was the main hub as against Karachi as the second one to produce films. At the time of creation of Pakistan all the prominent Muslim actors, music composers and directors were in India. Many of them opted to some to Pakistan. Some started work with the minimalist approach due to the non-availability of technical equipment and the lack of artists as well. The first feature film ‘Teri Yaad’ was released on August 7, 1948, with its premier in the Prabhat Theatre in Lahore starring Asha Posle. As expected it did not do well at the box office. About 99 percent of films produced in Pakistan and India are musicals unlike in the West. We inherited some very competent music composers who opted for Pakistan. We shall first mention some music composers who salvaged Pakistan film industry with their rich experience in India before migrating to Pakistan. Nisar Bazmi was one amongst them. After composing for 24 such movies he migrated to Pakistan in 1962. His fellow music composers were flabbergasted the way he used to make interludes with his rich orchestra. He composed music for 66 films in Pakistan. He composed for a total of 90 films during his film career out of which 66 were in Pakistan; 65 Urdu and only one Pashto film. His notable films in Pakistan are ‘Charagh Jalya Raha’, ‘Lakhon Main Aik’, ‘Anjuman’, ‘Saiqa’, Muhabbat’, ‘Tehzeeb’, ‘Anjuman’, ‘Umrai Jaan Adda’ etc. The second maestro was Khawaja Khurshid Anwar, the first breakthrough was provided by director AR Kardar for his movie ‘Kurmai’ in 1941. Alter the creation of our homeland he had to return to Bombay to complete his assignment for the movie ‘Neelam Pari’, his last film in India. His score in Pakistan from the movie ‘Intizar’ onwards in films such as ‘Koyal’, ‘Chingari’, ‘Raaz’, ‘Heer Ranjha’, ‘Guddo’, ‘Ghoonghat’, ‘Jhoomer’, ‘Zehr-e-Ishq’ and alike was instrumental in the success of these films. Rasheed Attre to brought rich experience from India and gave successful music in the films ‘Anarkali,’ ‘Mausiqar’, ‘Saat Lakh’ etc. In 1949, Baba Chishti migrated to Pakistan when Pakistan’s films industry was in its inception stage and its productions were generally unable to compete with the Indian films that were allowed to be imported then. Baba gave Punjabi style to Pakistani film Industry as his initial movies were namely ‘Sachaai’, ‘Mundari’ and ‘Phairey’. The latter was a silver jubilee movie starring Sworanlata and hubby Nazir produced by Anis Pictures. It was a remake of movie ‘Gaon Ki Gori’. With the film Jugnu’s success, singer Muhammad Rafi was on record by saying that he got his major break after singing the duet “Yahan Badla” with Noor Jahan. Because of this reason, he can safely be stated to hail from Kirana Gharana of classical music tradition. He gave hit music in the films ‘Duppata’, ‘Chan Vey’ and alike. The last but not the least was Master Ghulam Haider. The famous director Abdul Rasheed Kardar gave him the initial breakthrough and asked him to compose music for the 1935 film, ‘Suwarg Ki Seerhi’. Having opted to come to Pakistan in 1947 with her husband Shaukat Hussain Rizvi, Malika-e-Taranum Noor Jahan first acted and sang songs for films in which she was cast as heroine. Her husband started Shahnoor Studios on Multan Road, Lahore. On the other hand Malika Pukhraj made a studio, Malika Studios on The Mall, Lahore. Giving details of some of the maestros of Pakistani film personalities is to emphasise upon the fact that how such technical persons in their domain of work especially music made Pakistan film industry successful despite the tirade of Indian films until 1965 and even after when Indian films’ exhibition was allowed. Until today, this struggle is on. When the film industry was dead still many cinema owners either made their cinemas as drama theatres, plazas or demolished them. On the pretext of keeping cinemas alive, struggle of cinema owners discretely started getting permission of Indian films exhibition. Despite the actors, producers and directors taking a U- turn and not making new Urdu films after the success of ‘Maula Jutt’ in which even sober music composer Master Inayat Hussain was compelled to compose music away from his temperament followed by Punjabi films of Gujjar culture, only a very few personalities fought this tirade to revive Pakistani Cinema. Music composer Rasheed Attre too, brought to Pakistan his rich experience from India and gave successful music in films ‘Anarkali,’ ‘Mausiqar’, ‘Saat Lakh’ etc. In 1949, Baba Chishti migrated to Pakistan when our films industry was in its inception stage and its productions were generally unable to compete with Bollywood films. Music composer Baba Chishti brought a Punjabi touch to the Pakistani film industry, as his initial movies were ‘Sachaai’, ‘Mundari’ and ‘Phairey’. The latter was a silver jubilee movie starring Sworanlata and her husband Nazir produced by Anis Pictures. It was a remake of ‘Gaun Ki Gori’ Actor-producer-writer-director Syed Noor came out with his films ‘Choorian’, ‘Majajan’, ‘Larki Punjaban’, ‘Jhoomer’, ‘Jugni’, ‘Shareeka’, ‘Mehndi Wale Hath’ etc and now his upcoming venture ‘Chain Aye Na’ is being looked towards with anxiety. Shoaib Mansoor’s two movies ‘Khuda Ke Liye’ and ‘Bol’ prove that that he is not afraid of taking on social taboos, which are often enforced through what, he argues is a controversial interpretation of Islam. His forthcoming film ‘Verna’ is a story of a married couple Sara and Aami’s life falls apart as they face some extraordinary circumstances. Unlike Syed Noor films’ melodious music, Shoaib’s films’ music is of secondary importance. Two songs “Bandia Ho” and “Allah” need mention to some extent by Hadiqa Kiyani, Atif Aslam and Sajjad Ali from the film ‘Bol’. Gifted with the multitalented traits of his father, the handsome hunk Shaan Shahid is not just an outstanding actor, writer, host and model, he is also a blessed director. With a mission to make a difference in the Pakistani film industry, Shaan stepped into filmmaking with his first project Guns and Roses – Ik Junoon released in 1999. He later directed ‘Moosa Khan’ in 2001 which was well received by critics. After a long hiatus, Shaan will put on the captain’s cap for ‘Arth 2’, a remake of Bollywood’s classic movie ‘Arth’. Unfortunately he wore the cap of Sultan Rahi after the latter’s demise and enchased the Gandassa culture for a decade or so making loud dialogue and fighting films. Having said that, one must agree that he is an acclaimed actor inheriting the gifts of his parents. In the year 2014, ‘Na Maloom Afraad’ and ‘Tamanna’ directed by Steven Moore, ‘Saltanat’ directed by Syed Faisal Bukhari, ‘Dukhtar’ directed by Afia Nathaniel, and ‘O21’ directed by Jami were released. None had any musical piece worth mentioning although ‘Dukhtar’ was a marvellous art film. In 2015, ‘Jalaibee’ (twist) was an action thriller film directed and written by Yasir Jaswal. The film starred prominent TV actors Danish Taimur and Ali Safina. In May, Pakistan’s first 3D computer animated adventure film was released. The film ‘3 Bahadur’ (three brave ones) was produced and directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. It was the first instalment in the franchise of ‘3 Bahadur’ and was co-produced by Waadi Animations. Between July – September, a number of films were released beginning with ‘Bin Roye’ (Without Crying), starring Mahira Khan, Humayun Saeed, Armeena Khan, Zeba Bakhtiar, and Javed Sheikh. One of the movie’s songs is directed by Haissam Hussain. It became the third highest-grossing Pakistani film of all time behind ‘Waar’ and ‘Jawani Phir Nahi Ani’. Film ‘Ho Mann Jahan’ was released starring Adeel Hussain, Mahira Khan, Shehryar Munawar and Sonya Jahan, along with veterans Bushra Ansari. ‘Janaan’ and ‘Actor In Law’ both opened on Eid weekend, becoming the first and second highest grossing films of 2016. We are looking forward to the movies ‘Rangreza’ and ‘Rahbra’ now. Recent success story was that of ‘Punjab Nahi Jaungi’, a movie still running in some of Lahore’s cinema houses. Unlike the melodic era of 1950s to 1980s, the role of music is minimal in the new films being produced. Copying Indian films, having item songs or group dancing uses some rhythmic songs mostly based on Punjabi folk music. It is very difficult to produce an experimental film in Pakistan, as the distributors do not support the venture unless it comprises of a star-studded cast. Director Farhan Alam and Kalakar Films deserve appreciation for breaking barriers with their new film, ‘Saawan’. The film is written by Mashood Qadri and features Syed Karam Hussain, Imran Aslam, Najiba Faiz and Salim Mairaj in pivotal roles. The film revolves around Saawan, a physically challenged young boy who suffers from polio and lives in a valley in Balochistan. One of the experimental films was ‘Moor’ (mother) was produced in 2016. Written and directed by Jami, the film starred Hameed Sheikh in the lead. Film’s story depicts the railway system of Balochistan, especially the closure of Zhob valley railways in 1984. Besides the movie shows how the women run families. It was selected to premiere at 20th Busan International Film Festival. The film was selected as the Pakistani entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards but it was not nominated. The soundtrack of ‘Moor’ is composed by Strings. The soundtrack was released on July 28, 2015. One wonders as to what quality a band can churn out as compared to individuals well trained in this domain of music. We expected good music from Sarmad Sehbai’s film ‘Mah-e-Mir’, which is a 2016 Pakistani biographical film directed by Anjum Shahzad and written by Sarmad Sehbai. The film is based on the life of the famous poet Mir Taqi Mir, role played by Fahad Mustafa. The film also stars Iman Ali, Sanam Saeed, Ali Khan and Manzar Sehbai in lead roles. It was the official submission by the Pakistani Academy Selection Committee as the country’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards but it was not nominated. Three songs may be mentioned; “Us Ka Karam Dekh Kar”, “Jaag Musafir” and “Dekh Tou Di”. The latter song, a ghazal sung by a newcomer ruined Mehdi Hasan’s original singing of this ghazal. When I was young, there were cinema houses spread all over Lahore but mostly concentrated on McLeod Road and Abbot Road areas in Lahore like Capital, Odeon and Palace Cinemas and Regent, Qaiser, Ritz, Rattan and Sanober Cinemas. Some of them were demolished and replaced by ugly-looking plazas. Bull Road had Naz and Nagina Cinemas now probably running stage shows. Mubarak Cinema was a storage house now turned into an event hall. Mehfil Cinema also runs stage shows. There is a couple opposite running successfully as cinema houses. But the culture is to have a couple or more small halls in a shopping centre like Cinegold, Cinepax, Cinestar, Cineplex, Cinestar, Imperial Cinemas, Luxus Grand, Super Cinema etc. These halls have capacity of a 100 per hall. It is a strange phenomenon that the tickets that used to be Rs 3 for gallery, Rs 2.50 for back of the hall and Rs 1 and six pesas for the middle of the hall have shot up to Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 or even more. The multiplex culture is on the rise like it is so in the west. Visiting Regal Complex in Richmond, Houston, USA reminded me of the devastation of Regal Cinema of the same name in Lahore, Mall Road on Hall Road crossing where I saw many lovely English films in 1950s and 1960s. But the popcorn culture has picked up. People have started coming to cinema houses, especially the young and educated ones, smartly dressed. The writer is an award-winning musician and author. He Tweets at @amjadparvez and can be reached at [email protected] Published in Daily Times, October 29th 2017.