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Handbook of Religion and the Asian CityAspiration and Urbanization in the Twenty-First Century$
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Peter van der Veer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780520281226

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520281226.001.0001

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Cinema and Karachi in the 1960s

Cinema and Karachi in the 1960s

Cultural Wounds and National Cohesion

(p.387) 21 Cinema and Karachi in the 1960s
Handbook of Religion and the Asian City

Kamran Asdar Ali

University of California Press

This chapter examines the use of cinema to promote an agenda of a common national identity and cohesiveness among Karachi's ethnically diverse population. Focusing on the 1960s, it argues that Karachi had gained some distance from partition by that decade, and that the ethnic-and Islam-based politics of today has still not overwhelmed the city's social life. The chapter begins with an overview of the religious facet of Muslim nationalism in Pakistan before turning to a discussion of urban planning in Karachi and Pakistan's cultural politics, along with the linguistic and cultural diversity underlying the claims of Muslim nationalism. It then looks at the cinema-going habits of the family of Zeenat Hassam, a journalist and author based in Karachi, by offering a reading of the film, Behen Bhai (1968). Within the context of Behen Bhai, the chapter discusses the social changes that Karachi (and Pakistan) witnessed during the postpartition years as well as the question of national unity during the rule of the military strong man Ayub Khan.

Keywords:   cinema, national identity, Karachi, partition, Muslim nationalism, Pakistan, cultural politics, cultural diversity, Behen Bhai, national unity

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