View Full Version : Pashto cinema then and now

11-07-2010, 09:49 PM
By: Sher Alam Shinwari

Pashto film industry or Pollywood as it is now called has witnessed many ups and down since its inception in early 70s.In fact Pashto cinema has a history older than Pakistan itself. Amir Hamza Khan Shinwari (1907-1994) popularly known as Baba-e-Pashto ghazal had written the story of first ever Pashto movie ‘Laila Majnoon’ which was released in 1941 in Mumbai and Pashto speaking areas before partition. Rafiq Ghaznavi the grandfather of Salma Agha had played the lead role. The audio spools of its songs are still available. After partition ‘Yousaf Khan Shehr Bano’ maiden Pashto film was a mega hit, its storyline based on an imaginary romantic tale was penned down by an eminent folk Pashto poet ‘Ali Haider Joshi (1914-2004). The legendary movie was produced in December 1969 and released in January 1970. Super stars Badar Munir and Yasmin Khan played the role of hero and heroine respectively.
Thus in the beginning senior Pashto poets who were enjoying widespread fame got affiliated with Pashto film industry with the basic aim to depict Pashtun society in its true colours, highlight its centuries old golden traditions, its romantic aspirations blended with chivalry and not just violent vandalism, obscenity, vulgarity and firebrand dialogues which later became the trade mark of the so called Pashto flicks. Experts believe that the early 70s and 80s were the golden era of the pollywood. The cinebuffs still fondly remember the storylines, songs and purposeful dialogues of the Pashto movies produced in that era.
Murad Baba an octogenarian popular song and scriptwriter of Pashto films who has so far composed 2000 songs and scripted 100 Pashto movies many of which like Orbal, Naway Da Yuway Shpey, Juram Auo Saza and Bungaree Auo Hatkaray made huge business tells this scribe, ´´Many senior writers like me had joined Pashto film industry in early 70s with a purpose in mind to promote Pashtun art and culture on big screen and to a great extent we did succeed in our job but unfortunately, during the late 80s and early 90s some vested interests plagued the pure artistic environment of the industry and began to present a distorted image of Pashtun society that forced us to say goodbye to it forever. We raised our voice against it on many forums but nobody listened to us, the result was a decline and bad name to Pashtuns at large.´´
He adds Pashto movies were so popular that not only it would be run in Khyber Pakhtnkhwa, Quetta and Karachi but also its reels used to be smuggled to Kabul and some even would take it to Germany and Gulf countries. ´´Vocal of one song would take us sometime a week, now a- days the standard of everything in movie making has dwindled to the extent that a full flick could be made just in a whiff of time, is this going to inspire our young generation to achieve high national goals or exhibit moral integration ?,” Murad questions. ‘Absence of modern day facilities like fast sound track, digital cameras and other paraphernalia were not obstacles in making a super duper hit movies. Most classics Pashto flicks like Deedan, Kochwaan, Insaaf, Adam Khan Durkhanai, Dara-e- Khyber,Ilaqaghair, Zartaja, Ajab Khan Afridi, Topak Zama Qanoon, Ilzaam and Armaan were produced in Black and Whilte era, he recalls.
From 2000 onwards Pashto film industry took a new turn when Arbaz Khan the son of Asif Khan once the super star of Pollywood made his debut in Meena Qurbanee Ghawaree (Love demands sacrifice) in 2003. It set the tone for the future film making in Pashto showing signs of slow revival of the industry. At times Pollywood was the only industry that even surpassed Urdu and Punjabi, in 2009 Lollywood could release eight Urdu and five Punjabi flicks while Pollywood produced 15 movies.
However, Ajab Gul actor/director cum producer paints a dismal picture, he says, ´´I suffered huge financial loss in my own three productions last year because of bomb blasts and growing militancy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, also Pollywood is facing another threat and that is fast razing down of cinema theaters in the province. I am releasing only one new run Jaal on the coming Eid which will be exhibited in Khyber Pakhunkhwa, Karachi, Kabul and Dubai, it has mega casts including myself , Dua Qureshi, Umar Daraz, Tariq Jamal, Javed Babar while Jamil Babar a senior seasoned artiste is staging a comeback after almost a decade”.
Gul further says that Producers are taking great risk because the production costs are rocket sky owing to high inflation, an average Pashto movie costs Rs 7 to 8 million. I want to change the entire landscape of the Pollywood but my own kitty does not allow me to do it, I need government and public support.” The MMA government an alliance of nine religious parties in the erstwhile NWFP imposed ban on all kinds of cultural activities during their tenure. They closed down the lone theartre Nishtar Hall in Peshawar city and clamped ban on film billboards and posters due to which Pashto cinema witnessed another shock which reduced the pace of its spiral journey.
Currently there are ten Cinetheatres in Peshawar, four in Nowshera, two each in Mardan and Bannu and one each in Swat and Kohat. A total of five Pashto new runs will come out on the Pashto Silver Screen this Eid. Ajab Gul says he has requested to the Khyber Pakhtnkhwa government to allot him a piece of land in Peshawar where he could erect a Cineplex out of his own resources. Syed Aqil Shah Provincial Minister for Culture, Sports and Tourism in his comments on demolition of Cinema Houses remarks, ´´Cinegoing is a cheaper entertainment and we don’t want public being deprived of this. Any attempt at damaging or razing of the cinetheatre comes under the Heritage Act and I have recently stopped demolition of the Capital cinema in Saddar Bazaar, some Cinetheatres were razed down before our government came into power but now no such thing will happen.”
A spokesman of Shahid Film Productions fears low turn out of the cinegoers because of recent devastating flash floods that wreaked havoc on people’s lives in the country especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. ´´Cinema business is already running into great financial crunch due to militancy, floods added fuel to the fire. The government should withdraw all taxes to reduce the losses of the owners,´´ he suggests.
Muzaffar a teleflim director in Peshawar reports that more than 100 CD new Pashto flicks will also come out on the market while similar number of audio albums too will make a zoom in despite the fact that there is no official patronage or encouragement. From the whole discussion one can draw a conclusion that complete revival of the Pollywood in the prevailing situation seems a far fetched cry. Many experts see good prospects for Pollywood in Afghanistan. However, Ajab Gul sees a ray of hope, ´´I believe there is great potential in Pashto cinema, and it can rise on its own feet once the government takes proper initiatives

08-20-2013, 03:54 PM
PESHAWAR: The recent ban on the screening of five Pashto films in the provincial capital has caused a controversy due to the government’s failure to legislate on matters related to motion pictures in the province.

The producers and promoters of these films claim that they have obtained the necessary screening certificates from the Sindh Board of Film Censor (SBFC).

Shama Cinema, Sabrina, Aeena Cinema and Arshad Cinema have been screening the films, including Zama Arman, Bhungi Lalia, Lufar, Shurt and Qurbani, since Eidul Fitr.

Though the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa home department issued directives to the Provincial Police Officer (PPO) and Peshawar’s commissioner and deputy commissioner to check the violation of the Motion Picture Ordinance, 1979, the owners of the relevant cinemas continue to screen the said films showing the SBFC certificates.

These owners have displayed the said certificates at the entrances of the cinemas, saying they had not been violating the law as in the absence of any censor board in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, they were left with no option but to get certificates from Sindh. Following the passage of the Constitution (Eighteenth Amendment) Act 2010, “production, censorship and exhibition of cinematograph films” have become the provincial subject and each of the four provinces have to make legislation in this respect.Prior to the amendment, the Motion Picture Ordinance, 1979 was applicable to the entire country and the Central Film Censor Board has been functioning under Section 3 of the said ordinance.

However, through the said amendment, the Concurrent List of the Constitution was abolished and the subjects mentioned therein including film censor are now the exclusive domain of the province.

In Sindh, the Sindh Motion Picture Act was passed in 2011 following which SBFC was set up the same year. Similar, the law was also passed in Punjab.

When contacted, Qamar Ali, spokesman for the home department, said until such time when the province enacted its own law, the Motion Picture Ordinance, 1979 was applicable to this province and unless the Central Board gave screening certificate regarding a film, it could not be screened here.

He said his department had received complaint from the Central board regarding the screening of the said five films without certificate from that board.

Mr Ali questioned how a film could be screened on a certificate received from Sindh as that certificate was only applicable to that particular province and not the entire country.

He said the department had issued directives to the concerned officials and now it was up to them to implement the order.

The home department claimed that these films were exhibited in blatant violation of provision of Section 4 of Motion Pictures Ordinance 1979, which clearly states that uncensored films could not be exhibited.

An official at one of the five cinemas told Dawn that the provincial government had been trying to punish them for its incompetence as it could not enact a law and establish a censor board despite their repeated requests to the culture directorate.

“We have been screening the movie as we are having proper certificate from Sindh Board. We have also shown the certificate to some officials who visited the cinema following which they did not insist on stopping the exhibition,” said Noshad Khan, an employee at Arshad Cinema.

He said when SBFC had declared their film fit for exhibition, then there was no reason available with the provincial government to ban these films.

Legal expert Shahnawaz Khan told Dawn that Article 270 AA Sub-Clause 6 clearly stated that despite the abolishing of the Concurrent List, the laws related to it would continue to remain in force until altered, repealed or amended by the competent authority.

He said unless the province enacted its own law, the Motion Picture Ordinance, 1979 would remain applicable to the province.

The expert said only the films approved by CFCB could be screened in the province until the local government legislated on motion pictures.

08-20-2013, 04:41 PM
Unless Pashto films clean up their act and create films with wholesome content ...they should remain banned ...artistic license is never an excuse for garbage.

08-21-2013, 12:06 PM
Pashtuns in Peshawar, Quetta, Kandahar, Kabul and Jalalabad may focus on production of better Pashto movies.

There are about 70 millions Pashtuns in the world and this huge number of potential viewers should provide a motivation for businessmen to invest in Pashto films industry.

Shamlawar Khurasani
08-22-2013, 01:17 PM
The cast of Pashto films are cheap immitation of pimps up ho's down.