The establishment of the Lahore film industry

by Peter D. Marshall

by Ishtiaq Ahmed.

When was the first film theatre built in Lahore? A reliable answer eludes us, but we can say with certainty that by the early 1920s there were nine cinemas in Lahore. It was the era of silent films. Films made in Hollywood, London, Bombay and Calcutta attracted eager crowds as Punjabis have proverbially been among the first to respond when it comes to entertainment.

A very interesting feature of the silent films era was live background music accompanying the film. A group of musicians was in the cinema hall who played the piano, tabla and other instruments to provide dramatic effects to the story being told. So, it was a semi-live performance to which the audiences related in a more animated manner than when the talkies arrived and no intermediary between the film being shown on the screen and the people watching it existed.

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