1956 was an eventful year in the history of Pakistani Cinema because it saw the birth of Bengali cinema in Dhaka, then the capital of East Pakistan. A. Jabbar Khan produced and directed Mukh-o-Mukhosh. Being, off-and-on, a stage actor all his life, Abdul Jabbar Khan had no practical knowledge of film-making. However, with two other partners he launched the first successful film production company of the province – “Iqbal Films”. He met Q.M. Zaman, a former assistant of some camera-men of Calcutta and Bombay, who was looking for a film-maker who could utilize him. They both went to Calcutta and bought a second hand “Eymo” camera and returned to Dacca to shoot Mukh-o-Mukhosh based on Jabbar Khan’s own stage play, a thriller called “Dakat”. There were no artistic pretensions and the story was chosen on the consideration of its suitability for outdoor shooting. For sound recording they borrowed a Philips household tape-recorder. When the film was completed in 1956, Mr. Khan discovered that it was not much of a film. The sound synchronization was particularly atrocious. The entire production cost, however, came to a paltry Rs. 64,000 all inclusive. Artistes which included Zahrat Azra, Kazi Khaleque and Inam Ahmed worked free of charge.
As expected, the distributors refused to take the film – the fear was not only of bad business but also of a threat of potential damage to cinema house’s property. However, Kamalendu Bannerjee who was then the managing partner of ancient “Roopmahal” cinema decided to take the risk of releasing the film on `compassionate’ grounds. On 3 August 1956, East Bengal’s first ever full-length feature film was released and contrary to the predictions of the pundits, movie-goers literally showered it with unreserved love. It was a moving experience for all concerned. Of the 4 prints, 3 others were released in Chittagong, Narayangunj and Khulna and the reactions were the same everywhere. The first release collection went over Rs. 42,000 net. But because of the really bad quality the prints were discarded for good after the first run.
One cannot deny that Mukh-o-Mukhosh did not add much to our film art. But its appearance had been significant in many respects. It dispelled successfully the unfounded fear that film-making had no future in East-Pakistan. It also helped to bring home to the government the indispensable necessity for a studio which could contribute toward creating a worthwhile film industry and end East Bengal’s costly filmic reliance on Calcutta and Bombay – Alamgir Kabir
Cast and Production Credits
Year – 1956, Genre – Suspense/Thriller, Country – Pakistan, Language – Bengali, Producer – Abdul Jabbar Khan, Director – Abdul Jabbar Khan, Music Director – Samar Das, Cast – Purnima, Saifuddin, Benoy Biswas, Jabbar, Inam Ahmed, Zahrat Azra, Nazma and Kazi Khaleque