The first of its kind, this book presents a wide selection of scholarly research, literary essays, memoirs, polemics, journalistic writings, and rare visual material relating to film and cinephilia in Pakistan. Much of the content is historically significant and includes annotated abridgements of rare and out-of-print publications on the film industry’s early years in Lahore, Karachi, and Dhaka. Broad in temporal scope, Cinema and Society encompasses the ‘golden age’ of Urdu cinema, Punjabi and Pashto popular film since the 1980s, as well as more recent developments relating to the ‘revival’ of filmmaking in Pakistan. Aesthetics, technology and cinematic form are addressed in studies of individual films as well as wider explorations of diverse genres such as melodrama, horror, and action. Film content, production, exhibition, and distribution are analysed in relation to political, historical, and social change. Of the numerous issues tackled, nationalism, class, religious identity, violence, gender and sexuality, language, ethnicity, and urbanization are just a few. Also noteworthy are discussions of Indian cinema from a Pakistani perspective and the placement of film within its broader relationship to literature, theatre, music, and other media. Together with richly evocative photo essays that document the little known working lives of filmmaking casts and crews, Cinema and Society establishes Pakistani film and cinephilia as national and regional phenomena worthy of global attention.
Amid clear signs of a turnaround in Pakistan’s long-suffering film industry, this eclectic but well conceived collection of essays is a most timely and welcome contribution. Covering a wide range of social issues that have been depicted on celluloid since the creation of the country in 1947, this anthology is a must read for anyone interested in Pakistani culture and cinema from both a historical and comparative perspective.
Ayesha Jalal, Mary Richardson Professor of History/Director,
Center for South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies, Tufts University