Cinema and Society

Film and Social Change in Pakistan
Edited by Ali Khan and Ali Nobil Ahmad

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

Author Description

Ali Khan is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Department Chair at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at LUMS. His research interests vary from labour issues, particularly child and bonded labour, to popular culture in Pakistan focusing particularly on cinema and sports. He has worked in Washington and Islamabad for the World Bank's South Asia Region and with the International Labour Organization primarily on projects related to child and bonded labour. Ali Khan's book Representing Children: Power, Policy and the Discourse on Child Labour in the Football Manufacturing Industry of Pakistan was published in 2007 by Oxford University Press. He is also the general editor for a series of books on sociology and anthropology in Pakistan of which five volumes have been published. Ali’s latest co-authored book Cricket Cauldron (I.B. Tauris 2013) is a sociological analysis of culture and society as seen through the prism of cricket in Pakistan. Ali Khan has an MPhil and a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge in England.


Ali Nobil Ahmad is a Fellow at the Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin and Assistant Professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) where he teaches history at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. In 2014 he was Madeleine Haas Visiting Assistant Professor of South Asian Studies at Brandeis University in Boston. His research interests encompass political ecology, the media, and migration in Pakistan and its diaspora. His monograph Masculinity, Sexuality and Illegal Migration was published in South Asia by Oxford University Press in 2014. In 2009 he was awarded the Scott Trust bursary for journalism. A former editorial board member of the journal Third Text, in 2010 he edited a special issue on ‘Cinema in Muslim Societies’, republished this year in book form by Routledge. In 2011, he was co-curator of ‘Winds of Change’, a festival of films and talks on cinema and the Arab Spring at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.

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More Information
ISBN 9780199402229
Weight in kg 1.360
Rights World
Year of Publication 2016
Binding Hardback
Pages 394 pages