Milestones come in all shapes and sizes when it comes to cinema. Whether it’s box office gross, weeks at the cinema circuit, critical acclaim, or even cult status; some films are just remembered for a long time.
Two of these milestones are ‘Choorian’ (1998) and ‘Waar’ (2013). They celebrate their 25th and 10th anniversaries, respectively, today.
Choorian (25th Anniversary)
Before Pakistani cinema entered its long slumber in the early 2000s, it gave a gigantic hit in the form of Choorian in 1998. The film ran for 290 weeks at the cinemas and made almost $700,000 at the local box office. That’s a mammoth number even today, but considering that ticket prices back then were less than 100 rupees a pop (that’s a liberal estimate), it is a greater amount still.
Starring Saima and Moammar Rana, the film directed by Syed Noor was all anyone could talk about when it hit theaters. A little urban legend made the rounds those days that the film made so much money that owners of small local cinemas in small towns became rich from ticket sales.
The film’s plot was basically a Cinderella story set in the Punjab. Its music and performances became all the rage. You could find its soundtrack playing in every barber shop, on every radio station, and at every restaurant.
While Syed Noor and Saima delivered an equally massive hit with “Majajan” years later, and Moammar Rana lit the silver screen on fire with “Yeh Dil Aapka Hua”, Choorian was always the jewel in their crowns.
Choorian made an indelible mark on the history of Pakistani films.
Waar (10th Anniversary)
When Pakistani cinema bounced back to life in 2013 and the film that brought audiences back to theaters was Waar. Starring Shaan Shahid, Ayesha Khan, Shamoon Abbasi, and Hamza Ali Abbasi, the film made over 20 Cr at the local box office, and over 16 Cr internationally. Today, its inflated total stands at over 70 Cr (as per our latest estimate).
The film not only reintroduced Shaan to a new generation, it delivered some riveting action sequences. It also introduced two young talents to the industry.
The first was the affable, charismatic, and fiercely opinionated Hamza Ali Abbasi. He would go on to star in hugely popular plays like “Pyaaray Afzal”, and “Mann Mayal”.
The second was Bilal Lashari. While known to a niche audience as the man behind the music video for Jal’s “Sajni”, it was ‘Waar’ that made him known to the wider Pakistani audience. Almost 10 years later, he delivered “The Legend of Maula Jatt”, the highest grossing film in the history of Pakistani cinema.
Both ‘Choorian’ and ‘Waar’ have their fans and admirers today, as they did before. It was their success that gave producers and directors, and the cinema market at large the motivation to carry on. We need more films like them; better than them, to do the same and get the masses flocking back to the silver screen.