Cinematic Nostalgia: The Best Pakistani Movies of All Time

The Pakistani boomer generation got the best of Urdu content, whether it was literature or cinema. But the post-colonial hangover perpetuated and hindered the production of entertainment in majorly Urdu and other Pakistani languages, discouraging many young artists from pursuing a career in this industry. The low-budget movies and a rise in criticism towards art and music led to a downfall in not just the quantity of content produced but also the quality – replacing iconic artists with cheap entertainment. With the obsession with western culture and the ease of access to entertainment from India and the US, the art of screenplays in Pakistani languages subsided and slowly faded away.

Our generation missed out on some great works by Pakistani artists, but the new wave of appreciation for Pakistani art and culture has sparked a love for entertainment from our region. Growing up on movies from Hollywood and Bollywood cinema was entertaining, to put it simply, but the factor of relativeness and belonging was absent. Ever since the revival of the Pakistani entertainment industry, there has been a longing in many viewers to revisit our roots and catch up on all the content we lost on our way.
It might seem a challenging goal to start up on Urdu literature to get back into the nostalgia of our childhood, but there is an easier way to initiate. Thus, Libas Now has rounded up some of the best Pakistani movies of all time to help you relive the times missed out through these excellent works of art.

 1. Khuda Ke Liye (2007)

This movie turned around the Pakistani film industry that broke a long spell of badly-executed films in Lollywood. With its utterly realistic and painful portrayal of the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on Muslims, the film was critically-acclaimed for its truthful representation of the Pakistani nation with an evergreen soundtrack, excellent cast, and impactful direction by Shoaib Mansoor. 

Watch the trailer here.

Pinky Memsaab (2018)

The film starts with an expatriate married couple, living in a posh area in Dubai. The story unfolds as they hire a young girl from a village in Pakistan to help around the house. It may seem like you’re watching a movie from an Indian parallel cinema, but as the movie progresses, the many cultural aspects in the story about Pakistan take the viewers by surprise. It is a refreshing story despite, its lack of closure, the acting and the setting is worth watching. 

Watch the trailer here.

Laal Kabootar (2019)

It’s not your average crime-action-drama formula movie. A suspenseful thriller about Karachi’s intriguing and dangerous crime life, with superb acting by Mansha Pasha and Ahmed Ali Akbar, the film stands out as an almost perfect action movie. 

Watch the trailer here.

Anarkali (1958)

Pakistan’s version of the epic tale starring the legendary singer-actress Noor Jehan, the film is a historical work of art. The story is still considered to be half-facts and half-made up with several versions, but the visual experience of the costumes and makeup, the music, the set design, and the cinematography are all bearing the essence of the primary yet artistic years of Pakistani cinema. 

Watch the full movie here.

Umrao Jaan Ada (1972)

Based on what is thought to be the first-ever novel written in Urdu, the film was first produced in Pakistan. The dramatic tragedy takes place in Lucknow and takes us back to the old times of dwindling morals but strict etiquettes surrounding the story of a sex worker versus the society. 

Watch the trailer here.

Bol (2011)

This is a must-watch movie and should be aired on national TV every year until people finally get the takeaway message from this heart wrenching story. An impactful storyline and powerful acting by the cast, Bol is Shoaib Mansoor’s best work as it delivers memorable and tear-jerking dialogues that expose the dark realities of our society.

Watch the trailer here.

Jinnah (1998)

Although this one is a Pakistani-British production, it doesn’t change the fact that it is the most sentimental movie made about the challenges and sacrifices of our leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah, to fight for the independence of our country. Whether you are a die-hard, patriotic Pakistani or not, this movie will move you and stir inspiration. The best part is that it also features the magnificent Christopher Lee (yes, Sauron!) as Jinnah at some point.

Watch the trailer here.

 8. Moor (2015)

The movie is considered a visual masterpiece with cinematic excellence that overshadows all its flaws. The storyline and dialogues might not match the brilliance of the camera work and direction but, the story and the lessons from the film are powerful enough to leave an impact on the viewers.

Watch the trailer here.

 9. Sawaan (2017)

A true story based on the life of a young boy suffering from Polio, isolated in the vast deserts of Balochistan. The movie takes us on a journey as we watch his quest for survival through sickness and abandonment.

Watch the trailer here.

 10. Zinda Bhaag (2013)

A commercial movie success, this film is another suspense/dramedy, a story of three individuals from Lahore, getting tricked into getting rich through life-threatening shortcuts. The movie is sharp and thrilling, where dark comedy is used to show the realistic dangers of living in this society.

Watch the trailer here.

Honorary Mentions:

Jab Phool Khile
Zindagi Tamasha



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