A comparison between the Indian and Pakistani cinema and the revival of Lollywood

Before the Partition of India and the creation of Pakistan in 1947, both the countries had a shared history in cinema which can be traced back to 1886, which officially marked the beginning of Cinema in India. According to Noel de Souza of Lumiere Brothers in 1896, introduced films to the audiences of Bombay by screening six short films. In 1913, the first ever full length silent film produced by Dada Sahib Phalke was screened and the first talkie film was released by Ardeshir Irani the same year.  By the 1930’s, the Indian cinema had flourished a great deal and began to attract foreign actors. One reason for the rapid success of the Indian cinema was the culture of the metropolitan city Bombay which always attracted both foreign filmmakers and actors.


                                                                                        Dada Sahib Phalke


The culturally rich city of Lahore was also the hub of filmmaking, even before the partition of India. As stated by Hassan Abidi, the Eveready Pictures already existed in Lahore in 1946 but lack of resources was a huge problem faced by the company.  A lot of talented filmmakers left Lahore following the independence and furthermore, the filmmakers lacked filming equipment. Therefore, reconstructing cinema in the newly born state of Pakistan was a big challenge. The first ever Pakistani film to hit the cinemas was Teri Yaad on 7th August, 1948.

                                                                                   Teri Yaad 1948


 Pakistan’s film industry during the 50’s began experiencing its golden era with its first ever golden Jubilee film Saasi in 1954. According to Shiraz Hassan, A.J. Karadr’s – Jago Hua Swera in 1959 was the first Pakistani film to be “submitted to the Oscars.” The success of these films became a milestone for the film industry hence viewership of films in Pakistan increased manifold.

While Indian the Indian film directors like Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor and Satayjit Ray took the, Indian film industry to a higher level in the 1950’s. In 1957 Mehboob Khan’s Mother India was nominated for the Academy Awards for the category of best foreign film and was critically acclaimed.


                 Jago Hua Swera                                                            Mother India


The Pakistani cinema flourished tremendously during the 1960’s, now colored films were screened for the audiences. Film Ghoonghat in 1963 was the second Pakistani film to be submitted for the Oscars. With blockbuster films like Arman in 1966 and Chakori in 1967, actors Waheed Murad and Nadeem Baig emerged as Pakistan’s biggest film stars of all times. In Bollywood, the film Mughal- e-Azam was shot in black and white however the songs were in color. Raj Kapoor’s Sangam in 1964 was India’s first ever colored film screening the glitz and glamour of Europe.


                  Nadeem Baig and  Waheed Murad                                     Film Sangam


The 1970’s proved to be rather cruel for Pakistan’s film industry – Lollywood, owing to the debacle of East Pakistan in 1971 and the imposition of Martial law by Zia ul Haq. Nadeem and Shabnam starrer “Aiana” in 1977 was very successful at the box office and stayed in theaters for over 400 weeks.

The Indian cinema on the other hand, during the 70’s, flourished despite imposition of emergency by Indra Gandhi and the rising unemployment. The popular Actor Amitab Bachchan, in his uniquely popular films protested against the ills of society as an angry young man which appealed to the audiences and gained him popularity.




Most of the Pakistani film journalists and media observers have blamed Zia ul Haq’s meddling policies pertaining to films as a major factor in film industry’s decline.  The films screened in the 1980 have mostly depicted violence and bloodshed.  In the 1980’s, sophisticated Urdu films were rapidly replaced by Punjabi films which introduced the “Gandasa” culture.

According to Rachel Dwyer, 80’s could be called “Indian Cinema’s lost decade.” The 80’s witnessed the rise of Bollywood.


                  Actors Sultan Rahi and Mustafa Qureshi                    Actors Anil Kapoor and Sridevi


During the 90’s the Lollywood witnessed an even more decline in film production as stated in Herald as only 40 films were produced annually by a single studio. Most of the films during this decade were labeled as technically flawed and could not impress the audiences, hence the numbers of cinemagoers reduced by the end of 90’s and Pakistanis began watching Hollywood movies in cinemas more frequently.

Bollywood, during the 90’s, experienced an overall improvement in filmmaking as film songs were shot in foreign exotic locations and producers spent larger budgets in their films. Better filming equipment was used to capture each scene.


          Actors Babar Ali and Reema

2000 onwards

Pakistan’s film industry, after groping in the dark during for decades, finally revived after the millennium. The 2000’s finally marked the dawn of a new era for Lollwood, with Shoiab Mansoor’s film khuda ke Liye which released in 2007 and raked in crores worldwide. According to film journalists, one of the reasons for this new wave of cinema was Musharraf regimes backing of Indian films being screened in Pakistan. The screening of Indian films caused cinemagoers to once again return to cinemas. The cinema owners, before the screening of Indian films had to subsist on Hollywood films for survival hence it was feared that cinemas would eventually close down in Pakistan.


Khuda Ke Liye was followed by Mehreen Jabar’s Ramchand Pakistani in 2008.  Shoaib Mansoor’s Bol in 2011 turned out be the highest grossing film of the year for Lollywood. 2013 happened to be a wonderful year for Pakistani cinema with “Mein Hoon Shahid Afridi” releasing – Pakistan’s first sports flick having a blend of family drama. Films like Manto and blockbuster Jawani Phir Nahi Aani are clear examples of the richness and variety of this new wave of cinema. These movies have flourished pakistans film dying industry and has made the public fall in love with each film. Lollywood is emerging as a big industry, showing immense talent, having aspiring new directors taking initiatives, and using great effects and good film equipment has improved the industry manifold.

As this new wave of cinema continues to flourish film “Project Ghazi” is Pakistan’s first superhero film which has made waves even before its release.

Filmmaking has witnessed a great deal of technological advancement all around the world therefore Pakistani films now have to meet international standards. Furthermore, Pakistan’s enliven film industry now has to meet the global India cinema hence, a lot of hard work is required on part of filmmakers.  Films can change minds and effect lives therefore one must desire that Pakistan’s new cinema brings a good change in the society. Let’s hope we get to see even better films in Pakistan and we hope this trend grows even larger.

What are your thoughts on the revival of Pakistani cinema? 


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