“The Legend of Maula Jatt” has grossed over 200 Cr and 10 million US dollars! It may well be the biggest hit in the history of Pakistani films. However, records in the old days were measured in weeks completed in theaters rather than actual earnings. In those terms, there are tons of films which have been huge blockbusters and milestones.
Here are the 12 biggest milestones in the history of Pakistani cinema.
All records presented here have been taken from Pakistan Film Magazine.
First Silver Jubilees (25 Weeks in Theaters)
Even in the nascent film industry, people still came out to see entertaining films. That’s why the first silver jubilees were achieved within a few years of Independence.
Pheray (Punjabi) – 25 Weeks
Pakistan got its first silver jubilee pretty early on in its history. The Punjabi film “Pheray” (1949) stayed in theatres for more than 6 months. Interestingly, the plot was centered on a Hindu love story. The film starred Swaran Lata, Nazir, Zeenat, and M. Ismael as well as a burgeoning Allauddin who was not yet a star.
Do Aansoo (Urdu) – 26 Weeks
Director Anwar Kamal Pasha delivered the first Urdu silver jubilee in 1950, with “Do Aansoo”, still considered a very iconic film. It was remade as “Anjuman” by Hassan Tariq in 1970. The original starred Sabiha Khanum and Santosh Kumar, who weren’t yet superstars or in fact married back then.
First Golden Jubilees (50 Weeks in Theaters)
By the mid-50s, momentum was building in the Pakistani industry and people were heading out to see their favourite stars like Sabiha Khanum, Sudhir, and Santosh Kumar.
The first golden jubilee in Pakistan’s history was “Sassi”, released in 1954. Starring Sabiha Khanum and Sudhir, the film was an adaptation of the Sassi Punnu legend. It resonated with the masses since it adapted a well known folk tale.
Dulla Bhatti (Punjabi)
The first Punjabi golden jubilee film was a huge milestone not just because of its earnings. Reportedly, “Dulla Bhatti” in 1956 financed the building of Evernew Studios in Lahore, one of the most prolific and well-respected Pakistani studios.
This one also starred Sabiha Khanum and Sudhir. The two actors were becoming huge stars throughout Pakistan.
First Platinum Jubilees (75 Weeks in Theaters)
During the 1960s, the Pakistani film industry matured and started tackling a lot of different topics. Silver jubilees and golden jubilees were a dime a dozen.
Contrary to popular belief, Waheed Murad’s Armaan was not the first platinum jubilee in Pakistan’s history. Released in 1965, the film starred Sudhir, Neelo, Habib, as well as future comedic giants Rangeela and Munawwar Zarif.
No film has arguably been as iconic as Waheed Murad’s “Armaan” in Pakistan’s history. The soundtrack itself is considered a masterpiece. Director Pervaiz Malik, actors Waheed Murad and Zeba, singer Ahmed Rushdi, musician Sohail Rana, and lyricist Masroor Anwar collaborated several times before and since. However, “Armaan” was the jewel in their crown.
First Diamond Jubilees (100 Weeks in Theaters)
By the late 1960s, the Pakistani industry was in full swing. Bona fide stars and a mixture of greater freedom to tackle big topics, along with bigger budgets, gave audiences more spectacles and grandeur.
Riaz Shahid had become a household name in Pakistan for his incredible screenplays like “Khamosh Raho”, “Shaheed”, and “Aag Ka Darya”. However, his most successful venture would be “Zarqa”. Starring Neelo, Ejaz, Allauddin, and Talish, the film was about the struggle of the Palestinians against Israel.
Released in 1969, the film resonated incredibly well with the audience and completed 100 weeks in cinemas.
Zulm Da Badla (Punjabi)
Allegedly the inspiration for “Maula Jatt”, besides Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi’s screenplay, “Zulm Da Badla” was a revenge epic that took cinemas by storm in 1972. Starring Ghazala, Kaifee, Munawwar Zareef, and Aliya, the film completed 100 weeks in theaters.
Aina – The Crown Jubilee (401 Weeks in Theaters)
After the initial golden jubilees, Pakistan’s film industry kept its momentum. However, no film was able to break the 150 or 200 week barrier for many years…until “Aina”. Starring Nadeem and Shabnam, with a beautiful soundtrack by Robin Ghosh, this film would become the ultimate blockbuster.
“Aina” attacked the cinema halls like a storm that wouldn’t let up. Releasing in 1977, when Pakistan underwent regime change, the film kept running for a stunning 401 weeks in theaters. That’s nearly 8 years!
No other film has been able to equal that record.
Other Notable Milestones
While the 80s, 90s, and 2000s saw Pakistan’s film industry go through many ups and downs, the original momentum was slowly decimated. However, within that time, there were some huge hits.
Ham Dono (Urdu)
Pervaiz Malik’s “Ham Dono” was released in 1981. Starring Nadeem and Shabnam, the film followed the momentum of their monumental hit, “Aina”, and built on it. The film ended up running for 166 weeks.
If you haven’t seen this film, you will have definitely heard of it. It was the highest grossing film in Pakistan’s history before “Waar”. It was said that owners of single screen cinemas in small cities became rich because of the receipts of “Choorian”.
Directed by Syed Noor and starring Saima, Moamar Rana, Sana, and Shafqat Cheema, the film ended up running at the theaters for 290 weeks.
“Majajan” was another Syed Noor directorial starring Shaan and Saima. When the Pakistani film industry was almost reduced to nothing in the mid-2000s, this film cooked up a storm at the theaters. The film eventually ended up running for over 300 weeks at the theaters.
“The Legend of Maula Jatt” has shown the country the tremendous potential of Pakistani films both at home and abroad.
God willing, there will be many more hits to come.