The 70’s were really chaotic in Pakistan and not just because of the armed conflict in the East. There was also the beginning of a major cultural conflict in the country. On one hand, there was a massive influx of liberal ideals in the country through the hippie trail, while on the other the religious right was also gaining momentum.
The entertainment industry was no exception to this. It was also in the middle of a tug of war between two extremes. On the liberal side of the spectrum, one movie in particular really pushed the envelope. Sadly, this envelope pushing led to many movies that ended up depicting women as “objects” of lust or desire. They were (and to this day, are) depicted as objects that needed a man’s protection.
And this 1975 movie is one of the culprits of such a culture in our movie industry:
The movie ‘Dulhan Eik Raat Ki‘ was just as raunchy as the name suggests
You could say that it was the first mainstream movie to have a very in your face erotic vibe to it. The very dirty and trashy kind I must say. As renowned Pakistani journalist and cultural critic, Nadeem Farooq Paracha once put it, this movie is a cross between European soft-core porn and Spaghetti Western. With sleazy villains whose favorite pastime is to buy and sell women to an extremely macho hero, this movie set the trend for masala Lollywood films in years to come.
The movie stars actor Badar Munir who in many ways is the definition of badass
For those of you who don’t know, Badar Munir is a pretty big deal in Pashto cinema. Dulhan Eik Raat Ki was one of his first Urdu film and, by extension, was his transition from regional to the mainstream cinema.
The character Badar sahab portrays is your quintessential bad boy with a heart of gold. The guy loves to party as seen during the opening scene where he’s just chilling with hippies, smoking up, having a good time with a bunch of foreign girls. That scene shows how the hippies from the West had somewhat become a constant part of the local narrative, at that time.
Mumtaz Ali Khan plays the damsel in distress who falls in love with Badar Munir after just exchanging the glance
However instead of being pulling off the whole desi shy girl thing you can catch a hint of naughtiness. She doesn’t have that many people in her life except a sick mother and a low life uncle who leeches off of them. Anyway, she starts off a romance with Badar Munir and the two frolic around singing songs and what not. Badar really cares about her and on many occasions beats up a lot of people trying to hit on her.
Since Mumtaz’s character is one of the town’s most beautiful girls, she attracts the attention of the wrong kind of people. There is this really sinister Seth sahab of the town who believes in buying women. The low life uncle sells his niece to the Seth sahab for a mere 10,000 rupees. Thus she becomes a dulhan and Badar begins his quest to save her from the clutches of the Seth.
This film is a good watch if anyone’s looking to take a look at the origins of misogyny in Lollywood
With films that portray women as secondary characters and female actresses being given very limited kind of roles that focus more on their sexuality than their personality, Lollywood (and of course, film industries around the world) is notorious for being a patriarchal industry.
A movie like Dulha Ek Raat Ki, that shows women as weaklings and who need a man to save them, just goes on to add negativity to the general culture. On top of that, the movie implies that the whole reason a woman is worth anything is because of her “honor” and if that’s not protected, there’s no point to her life, is shockingly disgusting to a viewer from 2017.
Sadly, watching such movies you do realize, not much has changed in the movie industry or the country, at large.
Cover image via: Sadaf Digital / YouTube