|No. of screens 319 (2009)|
Animated 10 (37.0%)
|Fictional 15 (55.6%)|
|Main distributors ARY Films Hum Films Footprint Entertainment Mandviwalla Entertainment Geo Films IMGC Global Entertainment|
The cinema of Pakistan or Pakistani cinema (Urdu: پاکستانی سنیما) refers to the filmmaking industry in Pakistan. Pakistan is home to several film studios centres, primarily located in its two largest cities - Karachi and Lahore. Pakistani cinema has played an important part in Pakistani culture, and in recent years has begun flourishing again after years of decline, delivering entertainment to audiences in Pakistan and expatriates abroad. Several film industries are based in Pakistan, which tend to be regional and niche in nature. Over 10,000 Urdu feature-films have been produced in Pakistan since 1948, as well as over 8000 Punjabi, 6000 Pashto and 2000 Sindhi feature-length films. The first film ever produced was Husn Ka Daku in 1930, directed by Abdur Rashid Kardar in Lahore. The first Pakistani-film produced was Teri Yaad, directed by Daud Chand in 1948. Between 1947 and 2007, Pakistani cinema was based in Lahore, home to the nation's largest film industry (nicknamed Lollywood). From 1947 until 1977, Pakistani cinema flourished in Lahore. Pakistani films during this period attracted large audiences and had a strong cult following, was part of the cultural mainstream, widely available and imitated by the masses. However, between 1977 and 2007, the film industry of Pakistan went into decline due to Islamization, strengthening of censorship laws and an overall lack of quality. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the film industry and went through several periods of ups and downs, a reflection of its dependency on state funding and incentives. By 2000, the film industry in Lahore had collapsed and saw a gradual shift of Pakistani actors, actresses, producers and filmmakers from Lahore to Karachi. By 2007, the wounds of Pakistan's collapsed film industry began to heal and Karachi had cemented itself as the centre of Pakistani cinema. Quality and new technology led to an explosion of alternative form of Pakistani cinema. The shift has been seen by many as the leading cause for the "resurgence of Pakistani cinema". Despite the industry crisis starting in the mid-1980s, Pakistani films have retained much of its distinctive identity. Since the shift to Karachi, Pakistani films have once again began attracting a strong cult following.
Silent era (1929-1946)
The history of cinema in Pakistan began in 1929, when Abdur Rashid Kardar set up a studio and production company under the name of United Players Corporation (later renamed Playart Phototone), which would become the foundation stone for the Lahore film industry. After scouting for locations, he settled for their offices to be established at Ravi Road. The dim-lit area presented with much difficulties and shootings were only possible in the day-light, but nevertheless the area had some very important landmarks like the Ravi Forest and the tombs of Mughal emperor Jahangir and his wife Noor Jahan. It is reported that the team working at the studios would commute on tangas and even lost equipment once while traveling on the bumpy roads on the horse-drawn carriage. However basic and crude their working conditions, Kardar believed in his work and in 1930 he produced the first silent film in Lahore Husn Ka Daku (Mysterious Eagle), under his studio's banner. The film had mild success at cinemas, but prominently established Lahore as a functioning film industry. Kardar vowed on not acting in any other film and instead focusing on direction. Immediately afterwards, the studio released the film Sarfarosh (Brave Heart) in 1931, with Gul Hamid playing the lead role with more or less the same cast as in the previous film. This production proved equally appealing, but was able to stir noise about the Lahore film industry. Roop Lal Shori, who was a resident of Brandreth Road in Lahore, upon hearing of Lahore's growing film industry, returned to his hometown and produced Qismat Ke Haer Pher (Life After Death) in 1932, which would firmly ground the film industry in Lahore. In 1946, Sajjad Gul set up Evernew Studios in on Multan Road. The following year, Eveready Pictures was established by J.C. Anand, which would go on to become the largest film production and distribution company in Pakistan.
Independence and growth (1947–1958)
The history of cinema in Pakistan began in Lahore in 1929, with the opening of the United Players' Studios on Ravi Road by Abdur Rashid Kardar. In 1946 Eveready Pictures was established by J.C Anand, which became the largest film production and distribution company in Pakistan. The following year, Evernew Studios was established.
In 1947, after Pakistan gained its independence from Britain, Lahore became the hub of cinema in Pakistan. Upon independence, there was a shortage of funds, filming equipment which initially paralysed the film industry. With hardships faced, the first Pakistani feature film, Teri Yaad released on 7 August 1948, premiering at the Parbhat Theatre in Lahore.
Over the next few years, films that were released reached mediocre success until the release of Do Ansoo on 7 April 1950. Do Ansoo became the first film to attain a 25-week viewing making it the first film to reach silver jubilee status.
Recovery was evident with Noor Jehan's directorial debut Chanwey releasing on 29 April 1951. The film became the first to be directed by a female director. Syed Faqir ahmad Shah produced his first production 1952. Though "Jagga Daku" Saqlain Rizvi was the director, the film could not get much appreciation due to violence shown in it. As cinema viewership increased, Sassi released on 3 June 1954 by Eveready Pictures reached golden jubilee status staying on screens for 50-weeks. Legendary playback singer Ahmed Rushdi started his career in April 1955 after singing his first song in Pakistan "Bander Road Se Kemari".Umar Marvi released on 12 March 1956 became the first Pakistani film made in the Sindhi language. To celebrate the success of these endeavours, film journalist Ilyas Rashidi launched an annual awarding event on 17 July 1958. Named Nigar Awards, the event is since then considered Pakistan's premier awarding event celebrating outstanding performance in various categories of filmmaking.
The Golden Age (1959–1977)
The '60s decade is often cited as being the golden age of cinema in Pakistan. Many A-stars were introduced in this period in time and became legends on the silver screen. As black-and-white became obsolete, Pakistan saw the introduction of first colour films. Some that share the status of being firsts are Munshi Dil's Azra in the early 1960s, Zahir Raihan's Sangam (first full-length coloured film) released on 23 April 1964, and Mala (first coloured cinemascope film).
Although it seemed that the industry had stabilised to a certain extent, the relations between the two neighbouring countries were not. On 26 May 1961, Kay Productions released a film titled Bombay Wallah, which did not came under scrutiny from the censor board for having a name that represented a city in India in the wake of the growing tension between the region. Later, the censor board was blamed for irresponsibility. It was the first time that a Pakistani film explored the realms of politics, but it would not be the last. In 1962, Shaheed aka Martyr, pronounced the Palestine issue on the silver screen and became an instant hit. With the changing tide in the attitude of filmmakers, actress Mussarat Nazir who had reigned the industry for a while left for Canada and settled with her family. Her much anticipated Bahadur was left unfinished and never released, giving alternative films like Syed Kamal's debutant acting role in Tauba to be admired and fill the void. In 1962 Pakistans most versatile actor Mohammad ali debut his acting career in Charagh jalta raha; it was premiered by Fatima Jinnah on 9 March 1962 at Nishat Cinema, Karachi.
In September 1965, following an armed conflict between India and Pakistan, all Indian films were taken off the screen from cinemas in Pakistan and a complete ban was imposed on the Indian films. The ban existed since 1952 in West Pakistan and since 1962 in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), but was exercised rigorously after the conflict. Pakistani cinemas did not suffer much from the decision to remove the films and instead received better viewership. Realising the potential, Waheed Murad stepped into the industry. His persona led people to call him the "chocolate hero" and in essence, he became the Marlon Brando and Elvis Presley of Pakistan.
In 1966, film Armaan was released and became one of the most cherished accomplishments of the industry. It is said to have given birth to Pakistani pop music introducing playback singing legends – composer Sohail Rana and singer Ahmed Rushdi. The film became the first to complete 75-weeks screenings at cinema houses throughout the country attaining a platinum jubilee. Another rising star Nazeer Beg with th stage-name Nadeem received instant success with his debut in Chakori in 1967. The same year, he would act in another film of a different genre. Horror films were introduced with the release of Zinda Laash aka The Living Corpse making it the first to display an R rating tag on its posters.
Meanwhile, Eastern Films Magazine, a tabloid edited by Said Haroon, became the most popular magazine for film buffs in Pakistan. The magazine had a questions and answers section titled "Yours Impishly" which the sub-editor Asif Noorani took inspiration for from I. S. Johar's page in India's Filmfare magazine. Tabloids like these got their first controversial covers with the release of Neela Parbat on 3 January 1969, which became Pakistan's first feature-film with an adults-only tag. It ran for only three-to-four days at the box office.
More controversial yet would be the offering of distribution rights in the Middle East to the Palestinian guerrilla organisation, Al Fatah, by the writer, producer, and director Riaz Shahid for his film Zarqa released on 17 October 1969. It depicted the activities of the organisation. Basheera film date 1972, Sultan Rahi Sultan (1972)
Before the separation of Bangladesh, Pakistan had three main film production centres: Lahore, Karachi and Dhaka. The regime of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, VCRs, film piracy, the introduction of entertainment taxes, strict laws based upon ultra-conservative jurisprudence, was an obstacle to the industry's growth. Once thriving, the cinema in Pakistan had a sudden collapse in the 1980s and by the 2000s "an industry that once produced an average of 80 films annually was now struggling to even churn out more than two films a year.". However, the industry has recently made a dramatic and remarkable comeback, evident from the fact that 18 of the 21 highest grossing Pakistani movies were released from 2013 through to the present, with Pakistani films frequently outcompeting Bollywood movies for the Pakistani audience, the industry is supported by Pakistani channels such as ARY and Geo whose entertainment divisions have invested significantly in Pakistani cinema when expanding from providing news and entertainment on TV channels, the lifting of strict regulations on production of films and reduction of taxes on cinemas helped to fuel an expansion across the industry from which the film industry has seen a revival.
Following the Bangladesh Liberation War, the Pakistani film industry lost its Dacca wing and the number of cinema decreased rapidly. The period saw the exodus of more influential workers in the industry for the newly found Bangladesh. This caused another serious brain drain. Veterans like Runa Laila departed for Bangladesh, and the Pakistani industry was at the brink of disaster yet again.
Amidst concerns of a collapse, the film Dosti, released on 7 February 1971, turned out to be the first indigenous Urdu film to complete 101 weeks of success at the box office, dubbing it the first recipient of a Diamond Jubilee. However, it is reported that the first diamond jubilee status was celebrated by the Punjabi film Yakke Wali in 1957.
As political uncertainty took charge of the entertainment industry, filmmakers were asked to consider socio-political impacts of their films as evident by the fact that the makers of Tehzeeb, released on 20 November 1971, were asked to change the lyrics with a reference to Misr, Urdu for Egypt, that might prove detrimental to diplomatic relations of Egypt and Pakistan. So vulnerable was the film industry to the changing political landscape that in 1976, an angry mob set fire to cinema in Quetta just before the release of the first Balochi film, Hamalo Mah Gunj, which was to be filmed in the same cinema.
The mid-1970s saw the introduction of video cassette recorders in Pakistan. Suddenly films from all over the world were copied onto tape. Attendance at cinemas decreased when people preferred to watch films in the comfort of their homes. This ushered the birth of a piracy industry: Films began to be copied on tapes on the day they premiered in cinemas.
Javed Jabbar's Beyond the Last Mountain, released on 2 December 1976, was Pakistan's first venture into English film-making. The Urdu version Musafir did not do well at the box office. While the industry was revolutionising, Pakistan's government was in a state of turmoil. Aina, released on 18 March 1977, marked a distinct symbolic break between the so-called liberal Zulfikar Ali Bhutto years and the increasingly conservative cum revolutionary Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq regime. The film stayed in cinemas for over 400 weeks, with its last screening at 'Scala' in Karachi where it ran for more than four years. It is considered the most popular film in the country's history to date.
Politics, Islamisation and downfall (1979–1987)
Following Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq's military coup, he began to Islamicise the country and one of the first victims of this socio-political change included the film industry. Imposition of new registration laws for film producers requiring filmmakers to be degree holders, where not many were, led to a steep decline in the workings of the industry. The government forcibly closed most of the cinemas in Lahore. New tax rates were introduced, further decreasing cinema attendances.
Films dropped from a total output of 98 in 1979, of which 42 were in Urdu, to only 58 films (26 in Urdu) in 1980. The filmmakers that remained employed flaccid storylines to present Punjabi cult classics like Maula Jatt in 1979, telling the story of a gandasa-carrying protagonist waging a blood-feud with a local gangster. Growing censorship policies against displays of affection, rather than violence, came as a blow to the industry. As a result, violence-ridden Punjabi films prevailed and overshadowed the Urdu cinema. The middle class neglected the 'increasingly dilapidated and rowdy cinemas'. This film sub-culture came to be known as the gandasa culture in the local industry. Where veterans of this culture Sultan Rahi and Anjuman, became iconic figure in the Punjabi films, Pashto cinema took on a contrasting façade. Backed by powerful politicians, Pashto filmmakers were able to get around the censor policies and filled their films with soft-core pornography to increase viewership. This threw away the romantic and loveable image of Pakistani cinema and fewer people were attracted to going to a cinema. Being a female actor associated with film productions became an understandable taboo. Nevertheless, the influx of refugees from across the Afghani border, who were denied the entertainment in their country, kept the industry strongly active.
When it seemed the industry could not be further deteriorated, following years saw yet another blow to the fatal collapse. Waheed Murad, oft termed the "chocolate hero" died in 1983 due to alcohol abuse and stomach cancer; some say he committed suicide. Media attributes the star's death to his disheartened view in the wake of Pakistani cinema's collapse. Director of his unfinished film Hero, employed 'cheat shots' to complete the last of this legend's memorable films to a packed audience. This enthusiasm soon disappeared and not even Pakistan's first science fiction film, Shaani, in 1989, directed by Saeed Rizvi employing elaborate special effects, could save the industry from failing. It received an award at the Moscow Film Festival and even in Egypt and Korea, but sadly was shelved in its country of origin.
At the start of the 1990s, Pakistan's film industry was gripped with certain doom. Of the several studios only 11 were operational in the '70s and '80s producing around 100 films annually. This number would lower further as studio went towards producing short-plays and television commercials and let the industry astray in the wake of cable television. By the early '90s, the annual output dropped to around 40 films, all produced by a single studio. Other productions would be independent of any studio usually financed by the filmmakers themselves.
The local industry succeeded to gain audience attention however in the mid- and late-1990s. Haathi Meray Saathi produced and distributed by Eveready Pictures celebrated its Golden Jubilee bringing audience back to the cinema for 66 weeks Another big runner wasSyed Noor's JeevaSaeed Rizvis "SARKATA INSAAN" first Pakistani Horror and fiction, in 1997 Saeed Rizvi created "TILISMIH JAZIRA" First Joint Venture between Soviet Union & Pakistan, and Samina Peerzada's Inteha, it seemed the cinema of Pakistan was headed towards a much needed revival but naught attendance recorded at the box-office for later ventures ushered a complete and utter collapse of the industry. Notable productions of the time include Deewane Tere Pyar Ke, Mujhe Chand Chahiye, Sangam, Tere Pyar Mein, and Ghar Kab Aao Gay, which tried hard to get away from the formulaic and violent storylines but were not accepted fully amongst the lower middle class cinema audience.
Controversy raged over the filming of Jinnah in the late 1990s, a film produced by Akbar Salahuddin Ahmed and directed by Jamil Dehlavi. Objections were raised over the choice of actor Christopher Lee as the protagonist depicting Muhammad Ali Jinnah and inclusion of Indian Shashi Kapoor as archangel Gabriel in the cast combined with the experimental nature of the script. Imran Aslam, editor of The News International, said the author wrote the script in a "haze of hashish". Of all the controversies and hearsay, the film proved a point that Indian and Pakistani filmmakers and actors can collaborate on any such cinematic ventures without the ban being lifted. Later years would see more actors travels traveling in and across the border on further cross-border ventures.
Late '80s had seen the death of Murad and towards 1989, Anjuman got married to Mobeen Malik, quitting from playback signing and finally Sultan Rahi was murdered in 1996. The already reeling industry lost viewership not just for its Urdu but Punjabi films following Rahi's death. Director Sangeeta attended to her family life and Nazrul Islam died during the time. The industry was pronounced dead by the start of the new millennium. Syed Noor depressed at the sudden decline of cinema gathered investors for what was considered the only Pakistani film to have survived this chaos.
The year 1998 saw the release of Noor's Choorian, a Punjabi film that grossed 180 million rupees. Directors realised there was still hope and Javed Sheikh's Yeh Dil Aap Ka Huwa released in 2002 grossing over 200 million rupees (US$3.4 million) across Pakistan. The monetary prospects were then realised fully and for the first time in twelve years, investors starting taking keen interest in Pakistani films.
However, the short period of successes in the industry could not keep the cinemas afloat, and the same industry that at one time produced more than a 100 films annually a decade ago was now reduced to merely 32 per year, in the year 2003, with only one partial success called Larki Panjaban (A Punjabi Girl). In August 2007, a new film titled Khuda Ke Liye was released. It became popular due to its controversial theme of the current problems faced in Pakistan. It was also released internationally, including in India, where it became the first Pakistani film released there after four decades.
Renaissance and resurgence (2007–present)
In early 2003, young filmmakers took on a stance to demonstrate that high quality content could be produced by the local film industry using the limited resources available. Cinema was declining in all major cities of the nation and a need for revival was echoed in the media. With privatisation of television stations in full swing, a new channel Filmazia was broadcast, primarily to broadcast films and productions made indigenously in the country. It was during this time that Mahesh Bhatt, a celebrated Indian director visited Pakistan looking for talent, particularly singers who could lend their voices to his upcoming films in India. His visit to Pakistan was to attend the third Kara Film Festival, for the screenings of his film Paap in Karachi. Bhatt would later hire Atif Aslam for the soundtrack of his film Zeher and Pakistani actress Meera to play a lead-role in one of his films. By then The film industry again shifted its base in Karachi and by 2007 Karachi has become the Pakistani film and showbiz industry's headquarters with Lahore.
Despite some optimism of a solid revival at the turn of the millennium, progress continued to be slow. Alongside Geo Films continued efforts with their 'Revival of cinema', the Pakistan New Cinema Movement was launched in 2009. With around 1400 members PNCM is a grassroots organization that facilitates networking and publishes articles to stimulate production.
Several film projects were announced but few of them saw the light of day. Filmstar Shan's directorial project Chup introducing model Juggun Kazim to the silver screen; Syed Noor's Price of Honor based reportedly on the Mukhtara Mai rape incident; Khamaj fame music video director Safdar Malik's directorial debut Ajnabi Sheher mein stars Nadeem, Samina Peerzada, Ali Zafar and Model Tooba Malik; Shehzad Gul's Iman starring Shan and Nirma, actor Humayun Saeed's debut production BALAA with the support of Vishesh Films (Mukesh and Mahesh Bhatt) to be directed by script writer of Indian films Woh Lamhe and Raaz the mystery continues; Shagufta Rafique (talks are on with Indian actress Tabu for the title role and Iman Ali and Juggan Kazim in Pakistan); Salman Peerzada's Zargul – a major festival circuit success might see mainstream release. Shoaib Mansoor is to bring his second film Bol with stars Atif Aslam, Mahira Khan and Juggan Kazim. Also coming are Syed Faisal Bokhari's Bhai Log; Shehzad Rafique's second film Mene Jeena Tere Naal with Veena Malik and Adnan Khan; TV producer Ejaz Bajwa's film directorial debut Channa Sachi Muchi starring Babar Ali, Momi Rana and Saima; Indo-Pak-American co-production Virsa starring Arya Babbar from India and Mehreen Raheal from Pakistan will be releasing in Pakistan and India after its world premier at the Dallas International Film Festival (the director, Pankaj Batra is Indian).
Iqbal Kashmiri's second film Devdas remake of Indian film, Devdas, and Bengali novel, starring Zara Sheikh, Meera and Nadeem Shah. Son of Pakistan is based on terrorism in Pakistan and written, directed and produced by Jarar Rizvi; it features Shamyl Khan, Sana Nawaz and Meera in lead roles. Aamir Zafar, a filmmaking student, debuts as director with Victim which features Humayun Saeed and Irtiza Ruhab in lead roles. Syed Faisal Bukhari's second film Saltanat featuring Lollywood debut Mona Laizza (who also does an item number), Javed Sheikh and Ahsan Khan is finally scheduled for a release in 2014. Shaan Shahid's second film, script by Mashal Peezada featuring Vaneeza Ahmed and Natasha. Tamanna, a UK-Pakistani production shot entirely in Pakistan with the soundtrack featuring Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and written by veteran playwright Munnu Bhai is to be released in 2011.
Syed Noor and his wife Saima began work on a comedy Wohti le ke Jani Hai which was released in 2010. Reema Khan's directorial project based on Paulo Coehlo's Veronica Decides to Die was released in 2011. Another film worth mentioning is 'Bhai Log' which did reasonably good business in Pakistan when it was released in 2011.
However the first Director to make internationally recognized features from Pakistan is Shoaib Mansoor, first with Khuda Kay Liye in 2007 and Bol in 2011 both made on 35mm film. Ramchand Pakistani directed by Mehreen Jabbar made its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in 2008 and went on to win the FIPRESCI Prize (International Federation of Film Critics Award), Honourable Mention at the Satyajit Ray Awards at the London Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Fribourg Film Festival, Switzerland. It was shown in over 50 film festivals around the world as well as having a week long run at the MOMA (Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art), New York.
If Shoaib Mansoor's Bol led to the phrase 'Revival of Pakistani Cinema', the year 2013 brought with it seven Pakistani films that were theatrically released in Pakistan, and led commentators to ponder whether it was time to announce the heralding of a 'new wave' of Pakistani cinema. Since 2011 from the digital scene two films have stood out with box office success as highest grossing Pakistani films; Waar followed by Main Hoon Shahid Afridi. However, as some commentators cautioned, declaring a film a 'hit' or a 'flop' is determined by the relationship of the budget spent and box office returns of a film and therefore several of the top-grossing films of Pakistan were technically not a 'hit'. Nonetheless, the lack of box office returns of a Pakistani film has less to do with the film itself but more to do with the severely limited number of screens in Pakistan. Another film, Zinda Bhaag (Run for your Life, 2013) has been critically acclaimed with reviewers calling it 'the best film to have come out of modern-day Pakistani cinema' and a "new metaphor for Pakistani cinema" that "bode(d) well for the possibility of noteworthy Pakistani imports in years to come". Zinda Bhaag went on to be Pakistan's official submission to the Oscars (Foreign Film Category), the first after a gap of fifty years but did not make the final shortlist nominees.
The resurgence of new Pakistani film productions centres around the use of digital equipment and makes use of cheaper distribution with DCP compliant cinemas which started to convert around 2011, increasing rapidly to 2014 with around 30 cinemas nationwide. Shoaib Mansoor's Khuda Kay Liye (2007) and Bol (2011) seemed to have ushered in the revival of Pakistani cinema. By 2013, several Pakistani films were theatrically released - the first time in over a decade. It led commentators to speculate whether it was time to announce the heralding of a 'new wave' of Pakistani cinema.
2013 proved to be a great year for Pakistani cinema. In March, Siyaah (meaning Pitch black) was the first horror thriller film to be released in Pakistan in over 20 years. Directed by Azfar Jafri and written by Osman Khalid Butt, the film starred Hareem Farooq, Qazi Jabbar, Mahnoor Usman and Ahmed Ali Akbar. The film was about a dissociative personality disorder patient who uses black magic against unsuspecting relatives. The film collected over ₨2.65 crore (US$260,000) at the box office. The following month Chambaili, an Urdu-language political thriller film directed by Ismail Jilani, was released starring Salmaan Peerzada, Khalid Ahmed, Mohammed Ehteshamuddin, Maira Khan, Shafqat Cheema and Ghulam Mohiuddin also made a special appearance. The film was a political drama exploring the subject of political corruption in Pakistan. Since the flower 'Chambaili' (lily flower) is the national flower of Pakistan, the film-makers' intentions were to encourage patriotism and nationalism in Pakistan. The film made ₨20 million (US$190,000) at the box office. Waar (Wār; IPA: [ʋɑːr], meaning "The Strike") was the winner of 2013. The action-thriller film directed by Bilal Lashari and written and produced by Hassan Rana featured Shaan Shahid, Meesha Shafi, Ali Azmat, Shamoon Abbasi, Ayesha Khan and Kamran Lashari. At the time of its release, it became the highest-grossing Pakistani film ever. This was broken by 2015 release of Jawani Phir Nahi Ani. The film depicts events surrounding the war on terror in Pakistan, including the attack on a Police Academy in Lahore in 2009. Several other films were also released between April to October including Ishq Khuda directed by Shahzad Rafique, Josh: Independence Through Unity directed by Iram Parveen Bilal, Main Hoon Shahid Afridi directed by Syed Ali Raza Usama, Zinda Bhaag by Meenu Gaur and Seedlings by Mansoor Mujahid. Main Hoon Shahid Afridi was an action-drama film directed by Syed Ali Raza Usama and produced by Humayun Saeed and Shahzad Nasib. The film starred Humayun Saeed, Javed Shaikh and Noman Habib in the lead roles. Nadeem Baig, Shafqat Cheema, Ismail Tara, Ainy Jaffri, Hamza Ali Abbasi and Shehzad Sheikh also played important roles in the film, whilst Shahid Afridi and Ayesha Omar made special appearances. The film earned ₨22 million (US$210,000) in its first week of release.
However, as some commentators cautioned, declaring a film a 'hit' or a 'flop' is determined by the relationship of the budget spent and box office returns of a film and therefore several of the top-grossing films of Pakistan were technically not a 'hit'. Nonetheless, the lack of box office returns of a Pakistani film has less to do with the film itself but more to do with the severely limited number of screens in Pakistan. Zinda Bhaag (Run For Your Life) has been critically acclaimed with reviewers calling it 'the best film to have come out of modern-day Pakistani cinema' and a "new metaphor for Pakistani cinema" that "bode(d) well for the possibility of noteworthy Pakistani imports in years to come". Zinda Bhaag went on to be Pakistan's official submission to the Oscars, the first after a gap of fifty years but did not make the final shortlist nominees. The resurgence of new Pakistani film productions centres around the use of digital equipment and makes use of cheaper distribution with DCP compliant cinemas which started to convert around 2011, increasing rapidly to 2014 with around 30 cinemas nationwide.
2014 proved to be an equally great year, with Na Maloom Afraad (Unidentified Persons) taking the 2014 box office. The Pakistani comedy thriller film was co-written and directed by Nabeel Qureshi as his directorial debut. The film starred Javed Sheikh, Fahad Mustafa, Mohsin Abbas Haider with supporting cast of Urwa Hocane, Kubra Khan and Salman Shahid. The story follows Shakeel (Sheikh), Farhaan (Mustafa) and Moon (Haider), three poor struggling individuals who chase every possible means of becoming rich, all getting into trouble as they struggle to fulfill their desires and ambitions through questionably moral ways. Other films released in 2014 included Tamanna directed by Steven Moore, Sultanat directed by Syed Faisal Bukhari, Dukhtar directed by Afia Nathaniel, and O21 directed by Jami.
2015 picked off from the momentum of 2014 and 2013. Jalaibee (meaning twist) was a caper action thriller film directed and written by Yasir Jaswal, produced by Eman Syed. Jalaibee was a joint production of ARY Films and Redrum Films in association with Sermad Films and Jaswal Films. The film starred prominent TV actors Danish Taimoor and Ali Safina in lead roles along with Adnan Jaffar, Sajid Hasan, Uzair Jaswal, Wiqar Ali Khan, Sabeeka Imam and Zhalay Sarhadi. Jalaibee was the first Pakistani film to be shot with the Arri Alexa camera. and was about the intertwined stories of numerous characters who are all struggling with their problems, and who somehow connect on a unifying level. The film collected ₨5 million (US$48,000) before its release as Malik Riaz had bought 10,000 tickets in advance. The film had a good number of public previews came out well on them collecting ₨1 million (US$9,500) which is biggest preview collections ever in Pakistan. In total, the film collected ₨7.50 crore (US$720,000) at domestic box office and around ₨3 crore (US$290,000) overseas, taking lifetime gross to ₨10.5 crore (US$1.0 million) at the end of April. In May, Pakistan's first 3D computer animated adventure film was released. 3 Bahadur (lit. three brave ones) was produced and directed by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. It was the first instalment in the franchise 3 Bahadur (film series) and was co-produced by Waadi Animations (a joint-venture of SOC films) and ARY Films. 3 Bahadur became Pakistan's first computer-animated feature-length film. The film focuses on three eleven-year-old friends, who rise from the unlikeliest of places to save their community from the evils that plague it. The film is set in a fictional town called Roshan Basti (town of light). Equipped with courage and super powers, they battle against the odds and stand up to injustice to restore peace and harmony in their once thriving community and live a very happy life. The film was theatrically released ARY Films. It became the highest-grossing animated film at the local box office breaking the previous record of Rio 2. It grossed ₨6.63 crore (US$630,000) after 50 days of successful run in cinemas and became 7th highest-grossing film in Pakistani cinema history. Between July – September, a number of films were released beginning with Bin Roye (Without Crying). The romantic drama film directed by Momina Duraid and Shahzad Kashmiri starred Mahira Khan, Humayun Saeed, Armeena Khan, Zeba Bakhtiar, and Javed Sheikh. One of the movie's songs is directed by Haissam Hussain. The film was based on the original novel Bin Roye Ansoo by Farhat Ishtiaq and released worldwide on 18 July 18, 2015, the day of Eid-ul-Fitr. Bin Roye was praised by the critics. It became the third highest-grossing Pakistani film of all time behind Waar and Jawani Phir Nahi Ani. The film Bin Roye was later adapted into a television series with the same name, that premiered on Hum TV on October 2, 2016.