LAHORE: The flag of the film industry is at half-mast as legendary producer, director and owner of Bari Studio, Malik Bari, passes away. Bari passed away on December 22 in Lahore at the age of 97. Bari Studio and Bari Theatre remained closed for three days to mark the film maven’s demise and to honour his longstanding legacy.
Bari was among those who lent impetus to an undulated Lollywood. He began his career with hit film Mahi Munda and went on to produce Yakke Wali, with the latter touted as a blockbuster and the most popular musical film of the 1950s. Using the revenue these two films generated, Bari bought a piece of land on Multan Road to construct Bari Studio.
What became the filming location and home to many movies featured modern technology with grand halls and lush gardens. Bari’s unyielding efforts towards keeping the studio at bay from the shackles of commercialisation made him way ahead of his time. But soon after his sons took the reins of the studio, they tread a different path, making it available for commercial activities. And Bari Studio was never to be the same again.
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“He was considered as a pioneer of the Pakistani film industry. He was the first to import an Indian film, Jaal, to Pakistan in 1954, which resulted in the Jaal movement [during which film personalities opposing the release of the film were arrested],” said poet Altaf Bajwa. But it was Bari’s vision to open the local film market to global industries that ultimately bore fruit.
“He believed that if local films continue to be made in well-maintained studios, then we shouldn’t be deterred by the release of Indian films in Pakistan,” Bajwa added. “Malik Bari was a great man and the pioneer of romantic films,” said director Pervaiz Rana. “He was a talented personality and his services to the film industry will forever be remembered.”
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The film veteran married thrice, with his first marriage to Suraiya, the ex-wife of Nasir Khan, Dilip Kumar’s brother. He then tied the knot with film actor Najma, with whom he has three sons, Raheel, Khurram and Zaraq. This was followed by him getting married to film actor Saloni and the two have a daughter.
Bari was buried in Gulberg and his funeral was attended by a string of film personalities, who termed his demise a big loss for the local movie industry.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 24th, 2015.
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