“In the ‘golden days’ of Pakistani cinema, the film industry churned out more than 200 films annually, today it’s

one-fifth of what it used to be.”

–Sara Faruqi, 2005.

Pakistani cinema has a chequered history, from its fledgling start after the partition, to its heyday in the 50s and the 60s, to its decline for the 70s onwards, to the tentative growth today. After partition Lahore rivaled Mumbai as the hub of sub continental filmmaking. By the 60’s Pakistan had produced movies in most local languages, spanning several genres, from romance to action. It had produced timeless actors, actress and directors, and even got nominated for the Oscars a couple of times. Bollywood and Lollywood, competed at par. The advent of cassette recorders and the conservatism of Zia-ul-Haq crippled the booming industry. Audiences shrank, and the only films that sold were Punjabi stylized action flicks like “Maula Jutt”.

Up till the 90s the Punjabi cinema ruled the roost – but only for specific audiences and at a much smaller scale than the cinema of before. The number of movie theaters in the country declined from 1,100 in 1985 to just 120, and movies fell to a dozen a year. However, recent productions in Urdu are drawing large audiences, and cinema going – with the advent of 3D technology – has become a trend again. It may not be able to compete with Bollywood anymore, but give time and freedom; Pakistani cinema can carve out a niche for itself.