Eastern Film Magazine was a seminal publication in the history of Pakistan's cinema industry. Launched in 1959 as a subsidiary of Eastern Film Studios, it swiftly became the most widely circulated English-language periodical in the country. The magazine was notable for its coverage of Pakistani cinema, including in-depth features on filmmakers, actors, and film production.
Eastern Film Studios, the parent company of Eastern Film Magazine, was established in the mid-1950s. Despite being the only studio in Karachi and producing several box-office successes, its lifespan was relatively short. However, its magazine subsidiary had a more enduring presence.
The reins of the magazine were taken over in 1963, four years after its launch. The publication saw steady growth over the years, with its circulation rising to 28,000 copies per month by 1970. However, it ceased publication a year later.
Eastern Film Magazine was instrumental in providing a platform for artists, technicians, and filmmakers in Pakistan's emerging film industry. It championed figures such as Waheed Murad, who came to be known as the country's first superstar, charging substantial fees for his roles in films produced at Eastern Film Studios.
Studio and Magazine Culture:
Eastern Film Studios, where the magazine had its premises, was known for its disciplined atmosphere, in contrast with some other studios of the era. This discipline was attributed to the Chief Executive, Saeed A. Haroon, who imposed a strict ban on alcohol and avoided the controversial practice of the casting couch.
As an English-language periodical, Eastern Film Magazine catered to a cosmopolitan readership, mirroring the atmosphere of Eastern Studios. Many figures associated with the studios and the magazine found an affinity with Karachi's cosmopolitan culture, with some even choosing to move from other regions of Pakistan to be part of this vibrant community.
Decline and Legacy:
Eastern Film Studios and its magazine struggled to maintain their positions in the changing landscape of the Pakistani film industry. One major factor in their decline was the shift from Karachi to Lahore as the center of Pakistani cinema. As film activities gradually wound down, the premises of Eastern Film Studios began to be rented out to textile mills.
Despite its closure, Eastern Film Magazine remains an important part of Pakistan's cinematic history. It is remembered as a pioneer in the coverage of the film industry and a significant platform for the promotion of cinema in Pakistan.
Though its life was relatively short, the impact of Eastern Film Magazine on Pakistan's cinematic culture is undeniable. It showcased talent, highlighted trends, and served as a mirror to a burgeoning film industry. It remains a significant part of the legacy of Eastern Film Studios and a testament to a transformative period in Pakistani cinema.
The Khajistan Archive has rescued over 30 damaged issues of Eastern Film magazine. These issues will be available digitally through Khajistan Press.
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