The French writer, Georges Polti, writes in one of his publications that there are only as many as thirty-six types of dramatic plots out there. He says that whatever stories exist anywhere around the globe, be it in the form of films, novels, or dramas, and be they originals, sequels, or reboots, they are all a combination of these thirty-six situations.
Therefore, while Pakistani cinema is going through a phase of revival and things have improved for good; in terms of stories, there will always remain a connect with the past. That’s exactly the reason why almost all “fresh ideas” are explained in terms of, “Film A from past meets Film B from past.”
The idea of sequels and film remakes are more overt manifestations of this concept. The concept is not new in Pakistan film industry either, and the sequels of Jawani Phir Nahi Ani, Lahore Say Aagay, and Wrong No. are available as recent examples.
With Bilal Lashari’s The Legend of Maula Jatt, soon Pakistan will also see a reboot of one of its own iconic film works, Maula Jatt (1979). One never knows, but the reboot may trigger a new interest of filmmakers in the past stories of Pakistani cinema, especially those that received a lot of critical and commercial acclaim in their days.
90s was an era that is largely looked down upon today for its outdated concepts and lack of creativity as far as films are concerned. The film industry itself was chiefly being supported by the Punjabi Cinema, and the Urdu films had almost given up on trade. Few, however, know that 90s also saw some genuinely beautiful films. Films driven by some impressive plots that are relevant even today, and if given the right treatment, they make up for good remakes.
Here is an understandably short list of such films from 90s.
Directed by veteran Javed Sheikh, Mushkil was a unique film because of its subject and story line. The film was based on child trafficking, abuse, and labour. The story involved a newly married young couple who sees its life turn upside down when their son is kidnapped by a gang of child traffickers.
Peppered with some excellent music by Amjad Bobby and starring Javed Sheikh, the film is still relevant and could be remade into a great action thriller family drama.
Jo Dar Gaya Wo Mar Gya
This 1995 mystery crime-thriller was a blockbuster directed by Iqbal Kashmiri and produced by Sajjad Gul. It was the big screen debut of the evergreen Atiqa Odho who was replacing another veteran, Babra Sharif. Babra by now was pretty much at the end of her career.
Starring Nadeem, Javed Sheikh, and Neeli in the lead roles besides Odho, the film was actually inspired by the 1992 Kevin Spacey starrer Hollywood flick “Consenting Adults,” and received widespread praise.
The interesting fact is that the Bollywood’s hit Film Ajanbee, too, was inspired by the same film and unlike Hollywood version; which was a big critical and commercial failure, both the desi versions were well received.
By recreating its melodic music, the romance of Nadeem and Odho, and the darkness brought in by the characters of Javed and Neeli, the film could be an interesting and intense romantic thriller, one that Pakistani cinema hasn’t seen in recent years.
Released in 1995, Jeeva was directed by the most successful director of that decade, Syed Noor. It introduced Babar Ali and Resham to big screens and made them huge stars overnight. Shot extensively in Turkey, the film tackled multiple issues like human trafficking and honour killing, along with other problems faced by expat Pakistanis wrapped in a romantic, action-drama.
The film was also screened and praised at various foreign festivals because of its subject.
Veteran actor Nadeem played the titular role in it, but it was actually the playback singer Anwar Rafi, who struck gold by singing two hit songs, “Janu Sun Zara” and “Choo Ley Agr”. The film is relevant even in today’s era and could be rehashed into a gripping story for the cine goers of today.
Released in 1996, Ghoongat is considered amongst the best works of Syed Noor. Starring Resham, Arbaz Khan, Mohsin Khan (cricketer), Andleeb, and Shaan, the film was produced by Shehzad Rafiq, who later directed films like Rukhsati, Salakhien, and Salute.
The film marked Shaan’s unstoppable re-entry into 90s’ Lollywood, who previously had left films for a law degree in USA after back to back flops. The makers of Ghoonghat faced fierce skepticism for casting Shaan who, at that time, was being dubbed as “an Old Horse” by some circles.
However, after the film was released, Shaan’s character of a borderline psychotic and evil scheming lover left millions in awe, and then there was no looking back for the actor. Unlike the usual film villains in those days, his role was that of a charming and sophisticated young man.
The film explored the topic of how a married woman deals with her questionable past and goes to any length to save her home. Ghoonghat has the great potential to be remade into a gripping family drama/thriller for current audience.
Munda Bigra Jaye
Munda Bigra Jaye was unarguably one of the most successful films of the 90s. It was a multi-starrer action-romantic-comedy starring Reema, Babar Ali, Sahiba, Jan Rambo, Ismael Tara, and Shafqat Cheema to name a few. The film was directed by Shamim Ara and Written by Dabeer-ul-Hassan.
It remained the highest grossing film for couple of years until Syed Noor’s Choorian broke its record after its release in 1998. A typical Masala flick capturing various themes from con artists to patriotism and from Drug addiction to Romance, the film was a laughter riot because of some great comic timings of Rambo, Babar Ali and Reema.
Just to give an idea of how big of a success and good of a comedy it was, the film could be compared to JPNAs of today. The basic plot and its blockbuster music could be utilized in creating a remake that could easily attract the masses.
Cinema of 90s is remembered more for its non-aesthetic and technically weak films today. But even then, it managed to deliver on its duty of creating a larger than life environment inside the cinema halls, kept film-led entertainment accessible to masses, and produced huge stars like Reema, Shaan, Neeli, Babar Ali, and to a good extent, even Javed Sheikh.
With the right treatment and a little attention to the stories of this era, the Pakistan film industry 2.0 can benefit immensely in its cause.
Which was your favourite film from the 90s? Tell us in the comments.