Recommendations from the New Wave of Pakistani Cinema

Ever since Waar set screens on fire in 2013, Pakistani cinema has been on the slow but steady road to recovery. Six years have passed and more cinemas have opened up in the country, combined revenue from the local box office is at an all time high, and new filmmakers are emerging to carve out their own place in Pakistani cinema. For those that haven’t taken in the best that this new wave has to offer, here are four recommendations that no one should miss.


Syed Hussain Shah remains the first and only singles event medal winner for Pakistan at the Olympics. The heartbreaking story of this Olympian boxer from the mean streets of Lyari has been chronicled beautifully by Adnan Sarwar in his debut film. Playing the lead role himself, Adnan shot this on a shoestring budget and managed to focus on the major highlights of Hussain Shah’s incredible life story. There are genuine moments where you feel like tearing up either at his resolve or because of the patriotic fervour on display. It also features the great Gulab Chandio in a meaty role which took advantage of his great charisma as an actor.

The film is also a one off in Pakistan cinema as the only sports biopic, which is a shame considering the Titans of Sport that have been born in Pakistan. The film was a flop at the box office, but managed to receive rave reviews. Consider it your patriotic duty to watch this one. It’s available for streaming on YouTube.

Actor in Law

Fahad Mustafa cemented his status as Pakistani cinema’s new golden boy with this film. From the makers of “Na Maloom Afraad”, this film centers on ‘Shaan Mirza’ played by Mustafa who wants to become an actor. The late and great Om Puri, in his final film role, plays his father who is frustrated that his son won’t abandon his foolish dream to do something that serves society instead.

In a serendipitous turn of events, Fahad Mustafa’s character finds himself acting, but inside a court room. What follows is a social comedy that hits on various social ills within Pakistan and delivers a simple message.

Starring Mehwish Hayat, Nayyer Ejaz and Saleem Meraj in various roles, “Actor in Law” proved the highest grossing local film of 2016 and received excellent reviews. If you’re a fan of comedy or social messages in film, put this on now. It’s available for streaming on YouTube.

Teefa in Trouble

Ali Zafar’s debut in Pakistani Cinema proved to path breaking in many ways. First, it demolished the myth that Pakistani films could only make it big at the box office if released on Eid. Second, it showed off the best action choreography in the history of Pakistani cinema. While the story is nothing spectacular, the performances and star power more than make up for it. The heavy weights on display include Nayyer Ejaz, Javed Sheikh, and Mehmood Aslam. The film also stars Faisal Qureshi, and Maya Ali.

The film minted 50 crores at the global box ffice. Watch this at the earliest. It’s available on Netflix for overseas and in Pakistan on Iflix.

Laal Kabootar

“Laal Kabootar” is the dark horse of Pakistani cinema that rode in on rave reviews and is continuing to pull in niche audiences to the cinemas every weekend. “Laal Kabootar”, starring Mansha Pasha and Ahmed Ali Akbar, is a feast for the eyes. The reds, yellows, and oranges are all amplified to show how unforgiving Karachi is to its inhabitants and visitors alike. The film centers on a series of targeted killings which stem from a single occurrence. The ensuing chain of events lead to a riveting climax.

In Laal Kabootar there are no heroes or villains. There are just people trying to achieve their ends. This may not align with the black and white picture usually presented to Pakistani audiences, but it’s a representation of how most people truly are. The film features a menacing performance by Saleem Meraj who makes his presence felt even with the limited screen time allotted to him. And of course, the best performance in the film is by Rashid Farooqui who plays a corrupt cop. It’s a performance that takes you by surprise and breaks your heart by the end.

“Laal Kabootar” is the bar for Pakistani cinema right now. Watch it in theaters before it flies off the screen.

Yousuf Mehmood

Written by Yousuf Mehmood


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