Aziz Tabbasum (on the left). — Dawn
Aziz Tabbasum (on the left). — Dawn

PESHAWAR: Aziz Tabbasum, the director of maiden Pashto film ‘Yousaf Khan Sherbano’ has said that modern equipment, quality contents and experienced performers are must for revival of Pashto film industry.

During a chat with this scribe, he dwelt upon the rise and decline of Pashto film industry and put forward some pragmatic steps for revival of cinema culture. The pioneer director was in the town in connection with his family gathering.

Based in the United States, Mr Tabbasum sliced out time for a chat where he narrated his career journey spread over several decades regarding first-ever super hit Pashto movie, released in December 1970 with debut super stars Bandar Munir and Yasmin Khan.

Hidayatullah, Rehana Yasim and Nighat Akbar performed as playback singers, the latter being Urdu speaking folk artists. “The black and white Pashto films era would always reign over hearts of many Pashtun audience,” Rahimdad, a cinema fad commented.

Aziz Tabbasum highlights importance of modern equipment, quality contents and experienced performers

The pioneer of Pashto cinema directed around 44 super hit movies including Adam Khan Durkhanay, Arman and Insaf, which are still considered classic. He also introduced a number of superstars including Baidar Bakhat.

“My inspiration was from a Indian film in which Amjad Khan’s father uttered a single word in Pashto with which Pashtun audience in a Karachi cinema theatre stood on their feet and gave a thunderous applause. The instant reaction motivated me if a Pashto flick was produced, it would prove a milestone and my prediction came true,” said Mr Tabbasum.

He left for the United States way back in 1992 and settled there with his family after having disgruntled with dwindling Pashto cinema culture. With departure of directors and producers like him, Pashto film industry suffered a massive setback as according to experts and critics Pashto cinema was marred by gun culture, violence and substandard contents.

Born in 1944 in Peshawar, Aziz Tabbasum passed his matriculation from government high school No.3 and his father got him admitted to the historic Edwardes College Peshawar where was placed in pre-engineering group on the basis of his excellent marks. His father being a contractor, wanted his son to be an engineer.

“I soon realised that I won’t come up to my father’s expectations as my dreams were different and tastes varied. I did my graduation in arts group and went to Karachi to catch up chance in film industry but ended up there as sub-assistant,” he said.

Most of his friends and experts advised him that he could direct better than perform. For more than a year he learnt the basic tips. He already read lot of books, watched movies in his youthful days and loved fiction.

Finally, he found a film producer to finance his first-ever Pashto movie, which was in fact a popular folk love story adapted from Pashto folk poet Ali Haider Joshi. The film proved an instant super hit as it earned the producer and director hefty amount.

“Our film hero Badar Munir and the rest of support performers received Rs2,000 each while Yasmin, the heroine, got Rs3,000. All the costumes and cameras were taken on loan. I too received Rs2,000 but the spirit was matchless,” he recalled.

In the early 90s, Pashto cinema witnessed a gradual decline in all segments from script, screen play, dialogue, substandard content, reasons being lack of sponsorship, official patronage and poor condition of cinema theatre, said Mr Tabbasum.

He received President’s Pride of Performance in March last year for recognition of his immense contribution to the field of film direction.

About future of Pashto cinema industry, he put some practical steps including creating enough space for Cineplex, providing modern equipment, quality contents, experienced performers. “The fact is the tradition cinema culture has declined at global level since long. Pashto cinema has seen its golden period and should be revived as an excellent source of entertainment, education and reformation of society,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2024

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