Pakistan is lucky to boast Oscar winners when it comes to the awards for documentaries and other technical fields of film, but it has actually never gone on to be nominated in the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film category in its history.
However, each year since 2013 and two times before that in 1959 and 1962, Pakistan has sent in a submission to the Academy but has never bore fruit – despite some of these films being considered critically-acclaimed in the country.
Which films have made it to the consideration list and deserve a watch? Diva has the lowdown…
Jago Hua Savera (1959)
Depicting the daily lives of East Pakistani fishermen in a rural village on the banks of the Ganges and their struggles with loan shark, Jago Hua Savera is considered one of the first films from Pakistan to have an art cinema feel to it. The film holds special importance for being shot by a West Pakistani director about an East Pakistani (now, Bangladesh) narrative. It didn’t go on to win an Oscar, but it did win big in the Soviet Union.
A melodrama about a betrayal and domestic life, Ghunghat may not have done wonders for the Oscar’s, but it continues to be one of the most critically-acclaimed films of Pakistan. It featured the late Santosh Kumar in a pivotal role, and went on to win quite a number of awards at the now-defunct Nigar Awards.
Zinda Bhaag (2013)
A film that leaves you with a space for introspection, Zinda Bhaag is a narrative set in a nondescript neighbourhood of Lahore, where three friends are desperate for the fast track to success. Khaldi, Taambi and Chitta begin a journey that illustrates a sense of entitlement that cannot be fulfilled, and a desperation to prove themselves in front of others.
A film with a strong message that challenged patriarchal constructs, Dukhtar went on to become a critical hit in 2014. It explores a story in the mountains of Pakistan, where a mother and her ten-year-old daughter flee their home on the eve of the girl’s marriage to a tribal leader, and a deadly hunt ensues.
A film bringing us the narratives from the often-ignored province of Balochistan, Moor beautifully captures the narrative of a railway stationmaster, who is trying to cope up with his wife’s death, his estrangement from his son and the corrupt world in which he lives.
A film brimming with aesthetic goodness and narrative nuances, Mah-e-Mir definitely became a critically-acclaimed hit which the audiences couldn’t wrap their heads much around. It explores the story of a modern poet Jamal who is against traditional Urdu poetry reading a biography of Mir Taqi Mir, only to then start seeing Mir’s reflection in his own personality.
An endearing narrative about the lives of those on the peripheries, Saawan is a story about a handicapped 9-year old boy who lives in a valley in the mountains of Balochistan that has been intimidated by society, harassed by friends and left alone due to his disability. Strengthened by memories and dreams of the love of his mother, he begins a perilous journey back to his family in the main city.
An emotional roller-coaster exploring the niches of family ties and the secrets behind them, Cake became one of the finest examples of Pakistani cinema. It explores the story of a woman who takes care of her ageing parents and their land, who is joined by her sister when their parents’ health worsens, only for this to become a plot that keep thickening up.
Laal Kabootar (2019)
A film exploring the dark underbelly of Karachi, Laal Kabootar goes on to narrative niches that one cannot help but be hooked on. It explores the story of a man looking for a way out of the city. But his only escape is through a woman looking for deadly revenge. How it all serpentines, is what the story looks at.
Which of these films would you like to watch? Tell us in the comment section below.