Pakistan has a rich cinema history dating back to the early 1900s. Over the years, Pakistani movies have evolved and diversified, reflecting the country’s diverse cultures and social issues. Today, Pakistani cinema is experiencing a revival with a new wave of filmmakers producing critically acclaimed films that have gained international recognition.
Pakistani movies are known for their strong storytelling and realistic portrayal of society, as well as their exploration of complex themes such as politics, religion, family, and gender.
Many Pakistani movies also feature impressive musical scores and dance numbers that showcase the country’s vibrant music and dance traditions.
Despite facing challenges such as censorship and limited resources, Pakistani filmmakers have continued to produce thought-provoking and entertaining films that capture the hearts and minds of audiences both at home and abroad.
Best Pakistani Movies
From the golden age of Pakistani cinema in the 1950s and 1960s to the current boom in new Pakistani cinema, there are many great films that showcase the talent and creativity of Pakistani filmmakers.
1. To Strike (2013)
To Strike or “Waar” is a 2013 Pakistani action-thriller movie directed by Bilal Lashari and written and produced by Hassan Waqas Rana. It features Shaan Shahid, Ayesha Khan, Shamoon Abbasi, Meesha Shafi and Ali Azmat in prominent roles.
The plot of the movie revolves around a former Pakistan Army officer, Major Mujtaba (played by Shaan Shahid), who is brought back into service to help in a counter-terrorism operation against militants who are planning a major terrorist attack.
The operation is led by Ehtesham (played by Hamza Abbasi) and coordinated by an intelligence officer played by Ayesha Khan.
The movie features high-action sequences, gunfights, and explosions, and has been praised for its technical aspects and impressive production values. It was a box-office success in Pakistan and is often cited as one of the best Pakistani action movies of all time.
2. Bol (2011)
“Bol” is a Pakistani movie directed by Shoaib Mansoor and released in 2011. It tells the story of a conservative Muslim family living in Lahore, Pakistan, and focuses on themes such as gender roles, religious fundamentalism, and societal pressures. The movie features an ensemble cast including Atif Aslam, Mahira Khan, and Humaima Malik.
The film received critical acclaim and was a commercial success in Pakistan and other countries. It was praised for its bold and thought-provoking narrative and powerful performances by the cast. “Bol” also sparked discussions about the role of women in Pakistani society and the need for social change.
Overall, “Bol” is a powerful and engaging movie that tackles important issues in Pakistani society. It is a must-watch for anyone interested in Pakistani cinema and the cultural and social issues faced by the country.
- Shoaib Mansoor
- Eros International Media Limited(2011)
- Approx.146 Minutes
- Mahira Khan, Iman Ali (Actors)
- Shoabh Mansoor (Director)
3. Na Maloom Afraad (2014)
“Na Maloom Afraad” is a 2014 Pakistani comedy-thriller film directed by Nabeel Qureshi. The film revolves around the lives of three individuals who are struggling to make ends meet in Karachi, the largest city of Pakistan.
The three protagonists, played by Fahad Mustafa, Javed Sheikh, and Mohsin Abbas Haider, find themselves embroiled in a series of misadventures after they become involved in a get-rich-quick scheme that goes awry.
The film was a commercial success and was praised for its sharp humor, engaging plot, and impressive performances by its cast. It was also lauded for its portrayal of the city of Karachi and the everyday struggles of its residents.
“Na Maloom Afraad” is considered to be one of the best Pakistani films of recent times and helped to revive the country’s film industry.
4. O21 (2014)
“O21” is a Pakistani spy thriller film that was released in 2014. The film was directed by Jami and co-directed by Summer Nicks. It features a talented cast, including Shaan Shahid, Aamina Sheikh, Ayub Khoso, and Shamoon Abbasi.
The story follows a group of Pakistani intelligence officers who are tasked with tracking down and eliminating a terrorist cell that is planning to carry out an attack in the country. As they dig deeper into the case, they uncover a web of conspiracies and hidden agendas that lead them on a dangerous and thrilling journey.
The film received critical acclaim for its engaging storyline, suspenseful plot, and excellent performances by the cast. It was praised for its realistic portrayal of the complexities and challenges of the intelligence world, as well as its depiction of the broader social and political issues facing Pakistan.
Overall, “O21” is a gripping and thought-provoking film that showcases the best of Pakistani cinema. It is a must-watch for anyone interested in spy thrillers or political dramas.
5. Mother (2019)
“Mother” is a 2019 Thai drama film directed by Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit. The movie tells the story of a young man who has recently lost his mother and becomes obsessed with the idea of recreating her voice using AI technology.
As he delves deeper into his project, he begins to lose touch with reality and struggles to come to terms with his grief.
The film received positive reviews and was praised for its unique storytelling approach and themes of grief and technology. It premiered at the Busan International Film Festival in 2019 and was later screened at various film festivals worldwide.
- Factory sealed DVD
- Hye-ja Kim, Bin Won (Actors)
- Bong Joon-Ho (Director)
- English (Subtitle)
- English (Publication Language)
Kambakht is an upcoming Pakistani action comedy film directed by Hamza Ali Abbasi and produced by Eyad Ibrahim and Sharmeen Khan. The movie is set to star Humayun Saeed, Shafqat Cheema, Agha Haris, Sheheryar Munawar Siddiqui, and Sohai Ali Abro.
The plot of “Kambakht” centers around an unlikely friendship between a middle-aged man from the backward areas of Pakhtunkhwa, played by Hamza Ali Abbasi, and a young urban city-slicker, played by Sheheryar Munawar Siddiqui. The movie promises to deliver a mix of action, comedy, and drama, and is expected to showcase the talents of some of Pakistan’s most talented actors.
As of now, no official release date for “Kambakht” has been announced, but fans and moviegoers are eagerly anticipating its release.
7. Saya E Khuda E Zuljalal (2016)
“Saya E Khuda E Zuljalal” is a 2016 Pakistani war drama film directed by Umair Fazli. The film depicts the struggles and sacrifices of the soldiers who fought for the creation of Pakistan, and also touches upon the issues of corruption and political turmoil that plagued the country in its early years.
The film features an ensemble cast that includes Javed Sheikh, Moammar Rana, Arbaaz Khan, and others. The film was shot on a grand scale and features some impressive battle sequences, which were well-received by audiences.
However, the film also received criticism for its overly simplistic portrayal of history and its jingoistic tone. Some critics also pointed out factual inaccuracies and historical revisionism in the film’s depiction of events.
Overall, while “Saya E Khuda E Zuljalal” may appeal to fans of patriotic and war films, its lack of nuance and historical accuracy may make it a challenging watch for more discerning audiences.
8. Zinda Bhaag (2013)
“Zinda Bhaag” is a Pakistani film that was released in 2013. The film was directed by Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi and stars Naseeruddin Shah, Amna Ilyas, and Khurram Patras in lead roles.
The film is a social satire that focuses on the lives of three young men living in Lahore, Pakistan, who dream of going abroad to make a better life for themselves.
The film explores their struggles with poverty, social inequality, and corruption in Pakistani society, as well as their hopes and aspirations for a brighter future.
“Zinda Bhaag” was highly acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, both in Pakistan and internationally. It was the first Pakistani film in over 50 years to be submitted for consideration for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Although it did not receive a nomination, it helped to put Pakistani cinema back on the global stage.
Overall, “Zinda Bhaag” is a powerful and thought-provoking film that addresses important social issues in Pakistan. It is a must-watch for anyone interested in Pakistani cinema and for those who want to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges facing Pakistan and its people.
9. Tamanna (2014)
“Tamanna” is a 2014 Indian drama film directed by Steven Roy Thomas. The movie tells the story of an elderly Muslim woman named Bakhtawar, who lives alone in a small village in India.
Bakhtawar becomes determined to fulfill her lifelong dream of going on a pilgrimage to Mecca, despite facing various obstacles including financial difficulties and societal expectations.
The film received positive reviews and was praised for its portrayal of a strong female protagonist and for addressing social issues such as gender and religion. “Tamanna” premiered at the Mumbai Film Festival in 2013 and was later released theatrically in India in 2014.
10. Josh (2013)
“Josh: Independence Through Unity” is a Pakistani movie that was released in 2013. The movie is a political drama that is set against the backdrop of the 1971 Indo-Pak war that led to the creation of Bangladesh.
Directed by Iram Parveen Bilal, “Josh” follows the story of Fatima (played by Aamina Sheikh), a dedicated schoolteacher who becomes involved in the struggle for independence and the fight against the oppressive regime of West Pakistan.
Along with her students and colleagues, Fatima works to spread awareness about the importance of freedom and encourages people to join the fight for independence.
The movie also focuses on the relationship between Fatima and her brother Ehtisham (played by Mohib Mirza), who is a member of the Pakistani army. As the war intensifies, Ehtisham is faced with a difficult decision: should he remain loyal to his country or join his sister in the fight for independence?
“Josh” received positive reviews from critics and was praised for its strong performances and compelling story. The movie was also lauded for its portrayal of the struggle for independence and the sacrifices made by the people of Pakistan during that time.
Overall, “Josh: Independence Through Unity” is a powerful movie that provides insight into a critical period in Pakistan’s history and the struggle for independence that led to the birth of Bangladesh.
11. Dukhtar (2014)
“Dukhtar” is a 2014 Pakistani drama-thriller film directed by Afia Nathaniel. The film tells the story of a mother and daughter who go on a journey to escape the arranged marriage of the young girl to a tribal leader.
The film stars Samiya Mumtaz, Mohib Mirza, and Saleha Aref in the lead roles. It received critical acclaim for its powerful storytelling, stunning visuals, and impressive performances by its cast.
The film was also praised for its feminist themes, as it portrays the strength and resilience of women in the face of patriarchal oppression.
“Dukhtar” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014 and went on to win several awards at international film festivals. It is widely regarded as one of the best Pakistani films of recent times and is a must-watch for anyone interested in exploring the country’s vibrant and diverse film industry.
- Samiya Mumtaz, Saleha Aref, Mohib Mirza (Actors)
- Afia Nathaniel (Director)
- English (Subtitle)
- Spanish (Publication Language)
- Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
12. I Am Shahid Afridi (2013)
“I Am Shahid Afridi” is a Pakistani sports drama film released in 2013. The film is directed by Syed Ali Raza Usama and produced by Humayun Saeed and Shahzad Nasib.
The film follows the story of a young man named Akbar, who dreams of becoming a cricket player like his idol, the Pakistani cricket legend Shahid Afridi. However, he faces many obstacles along the way, including a lack of resources and opposition from his family and community.
The film features an ensemble cast of both established and upcoming actors, including Noman Habib, Javed Sheikh, Mahnoor Baloch, and Nadeem Baig. Shahid Afridi himself also makes a cameo appearance in the film.
“I Am Shahid Afridi” received positive reviews from critics and audiences alike for its engaging storyline, strong performances, and inspiring message. It was also a commercial success, becoming one of the highest-grossing Pakistani films of 2013.
Overall, “I Am Shahid Afridi” is a must-watch for sports fans and anyone interested in Pakistani cinema. The film not only showcases the talent of Pakistani filmmakers and actors but also highlights the importance of perseverance and determination in achieving one’s dreams.
13. Hijrat (2016)
“Hijrat” is a 2016 Pakistani romantic drama film directed by Farooq Mengal. The movie follows the story of a young couple, Zahid and Zainab, who are separated during the mass migration of people across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in the aftermath of the Soviet-Afghan war.
Years later, Zahid, now a journalist, returns to Afghanistan in search of Zainab and discovers the harsh realities of life in a war-torn country.
The film received mixed reviews, with some praising its performances and themes of love and loss, while others criticized its pacing and melodrama. “Hijrat” premiered at the 69th Cannes Film Festival in the “Marché du Film” section and was later released theatrically in Pakistan in 2016.
14. Swaarangi (2015)
“Swaarangi” is a Pakistani drama film released in 2015. It is directed by Phida Hussain and produced by Mazhar Abbas. The movie stars Resham, Ayub Khoso, Naveed Akbar, and Waseem Manzoor.
The movie explores the themes of love, sacrifice, and revenge in the context of a family drama. It tells the story of a woman named Resham who is forced to marry a man she does not love, and the consequences of her decisions.
“Swaarangi” was praised for its powerful storytelling and performances by the cast. It was also recognized at the ARY Film Awards in 2016, where it won the award for Best Supporting Actor (Ayub Khoso).
15. In the Name of God (2007)
“In the Name of God” is a 2007 Pakistani drama film directed by Shoaib Mansoor. The film deals with the sensitive topic of religious extremism and its impact on Pakistani society.
The film stars Shaan Shahid, Fawad Khan, and Iman Ali in lead roles. It revolves around a young man who becomes involved with a religious extremist group and the devastating consequences of his actions.
The film received critical acclaim for its honest portrayal of the issue of extremism in Pakistan and the impact it has on individuals and society as a whole. It also touched upon other issues such as corruption and nepotism in the country’s political system.
Despite its critical acclaim, the film faced controversy and backlash from some religious groups who objected to its portrayal of extremism. However, it remains an important and thought-provoking film that sheds light on a pressing issue facing Pakistani society today.
16. Jinnah (1998)
“Jinnah” is a British-Pakistani biographical drama film released in 1998. The film is directed by Jamil Dehlavi and written by Akbar S. Ahmed and Jamil Dehlavi.
The film tells the story of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and his struggle for the creation of an independent Muslim state in the Indian subcontinent. It explores Jinnah’s political and personal life, including his relationships with his family, his colleagues, and his opponents.
The film features an impressive cast, including Christopher Lee as Jinnah, Shashi Kapoor as Gandhi, and James Fox as Lord Mountbatten. The film was praised for its strong performances, historical accuracy, and cinematic qualities.
Despite some controversy surrounding its release, “Jinnah” is considered a landmark film in Pakistani cinema and a significant contribution to the representation of South Asian history and culture on the international stage. The film also sheds light on the complexities and challenges of the partition of India and Pakistan, a momentous event that shaped the history of the region and the world.
Azaadi” is a 2018 Pakistani movie directed by Imran Malik and produced by Irfan Malik. The movie features Moammar Rana, Sonya Hussyn, and Nadeem Baig in lead roles.
The movie is a story of a Kashmiri man named Azaad, played by Moammar Rana, who falls in love with a Pakistani woman named Zara, played by Sonya Hussyn.
The couple faces various challenges and struggles due to the political tensions between India and Pakistan, and the ongoing conflict in Kashmir. Azaad is portrayed as a freedom fighter who is fighting for the independence of Kashmir, while Zara is a journalist who supports his cause.
The movie highlights the themes of love, patriotism, and freedom, and also sheds light on the Kashmir conflict and the plight of the Kashmiri people. “Azaadi” received mixed reviews from critics but was appreciated for its strong performances by the lead actors and its portrayal of a complex political issue.
18. Zill-E-Shah (2008)
“Zill-E-Shah” is a Pakistani drama film released in 2008. It is directed by Syed Noor and stars Shaan Shahid, Saima Noor, and Sana Nawaz in the lead roles.
The movie is a romantic drama that tells the story of two young lovers who are separated due to the class differences in their society. The movie also explores the themes of family honor, tradition, and social hierarchy.
“Zill-E-Shah” was praised for its beautiful cinematography and music, as well as the performances of its lead actors. It was also commercially successful and helped establish Shaan Shahid as one of the leading actors in the Pakistani film industry.
19. Ishq Khuda (2013)
“Ishq Khuda” is a 2013 Pakistani romantic-drama film directed by Shehzad Rafique. The film features actors including Shaan Shahid, Meera, and Saima in the lead roles.
The film follows the love story of a young couple who belong to different religious backgrounds and face societal and family pressures to end their relationship.
The film explores themes of love, religious tolerance, and the challenges faced by individuals who choose to defy societal norms.
“Ishq Khuda” received mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike, with some praising the performances and message of the film while others criticized it for its melodramatic plot and execution.
However, it remains an important film for exploring the issues of interfaith relationships and the importance of tolerance and acceptance in Pakistani society.
20. The System (II) (2014)
“The System” is a Pakistani action-thriller film released in 2014. The film is directed and written by Syed Ali Raza Usama, and stars Sheheryar Munawar, Nabeel Qureshi, and Kashaf Ali.
The film follows the story of a young man named Arsalan who is falsely accused of a crime and faces a corrupt and flawed justice system. He teams up with a journalist to expose the flaws in the system and seek justice for himself and others who have been wronged.
“The System” addresses important social and political issues in Pakistan, including corruption, police brutality, and the flaws in the justice system. The film received mixed reviews from critics, but was praised for its bold and daring approach to tackling these issues.
Overall, “The System” is an important contribution to Pakistani cinema and sheds light on some of the most pressing issues facing Pakistani society today.
3 Characteristics of Pakistani Movies
Social Issues: Pakistani movies often address social issues, such as poverty, gender inequality, and religious conflicts. They tend to offer a commentary on the current state of society and often seek to promote a positive change.
Melodrama: Pakistani movies tend to be highly emotional and melodramatic. The plots often revolve around themes of love, family, and personal sacrifice, and the actors are expected to deliver over-the-top performances.
Music: Music plays an integral role in Pakistani movies, with elaborate song and dance sequences being a common feature. The music is often composed by renowned musicians and is a key component in the promotion of the movie.
3 Reasons To Watch Pakistani Movies
Cultural Insight: Pakistani movies offer a glimpse into the rich and diverse culture of Pakistan, with its unique blend of Islamic, Indian, and Persian influences. The movies often feature traditional dress, music, and customs, providing an immersive experience for viewers.
Powerful Storytelling: Pakistani cinema has produced some highly acclaimed films that tackle important social issues, such as poverty, gender inequality, and political corruption. These films offer a thought-provoking and emotionally powerful viewing experience.
Talented Actors and Filmmakers: Pakistani movies feature a wealth of talented actors, directors, and cinematographers who bring their own distinct style and vision to the screen. From classic dramas to contemporary comedies, Pakistani cinema has something for everyone, and is a testament to the creative talents of the country’s filmmakers.
Best Pakistani Movies – Wrap Up
In this series of movie recommendations, we have highlighted some of the best Pakistani movies across different genres and time periods.
These movies represent the diversity and richness of Pakistani cinema, showcasing different aspects of the country’s culture, society, and history. From thought-provoking dramas to thrilling action films, from exploring societal issues to celebrating the human spirit, these movies offer something for everyone. They demonstrate the incredible talent and creativity of Pakistani filmmakers, actors, and artists, and highlight the importance of supporting and promoting local cinema.