August 7, 1948: Eid-ul-Fitr in Pakistan, and the day of the release of Teri Yaad, the first movie to be made in the new nation formed by Partition
Teri Yaad was released at the Parbhat theatre (previously known as the Empire) on McLeod Road in Lahore, where it ran for five weeks. The movie’s poor production values and technical ineptness were all the more apparent when compared with the glossiness of Indian films, which continued to be released in Pakistan after 1947. If Teri Yaad is still remembered, it is only because it heralded the birth of a new film industry in the subcontinent, one that in its peak in the 1970s produced more than a 100 films a year.
Lahore had long been the filmmaking centre for Hindustani and Punjabi films, but its two premier studios – Shorey Studios and Pancholi Pictures – were both owned by Hindus. Roop K Shorey and Dalsukh Pancholi moved to India during Partition. Their studios were damaged in the ensuing riots. It was a miracle Teri Yaad got made in the first place.
Teri Yaad is the story of a wealthy man who leaves his money to his daughter when he dies. She is killed by one of his enemies. Her mother raises an orphaned girl as her daughter. The girl falls in love with the villain’s son. After several reels of drama and song (10 in all), the widow gets her revenge and eventually the lovers are united.
The landmark film was produced by Dewan Sardari Lal and directed by Dawood Chand, a prominent filmmaker whose credits had included Paraye Bas Mein (1946) and Arsi (1947). The male lead was played by Nasir Khan, the younger brother of Dilip Kumar. Nasir Khan had previously appeared in Mazdoor (1945) and Shehnai (1947) and migrated to Pakistan to try his luck there. Khan later appeared in another Pakistani film, Shahida (1949), and also distributed four of his more successful brother’s films in Pakistan, including Mela (1948). However, scandal followed: Nasir Khan allegedly had an affair with a woman from an orthodox Punjabi family, who ensured his return to India.
Appearing with Nasir Khan and singing her own songs, including the title track Teri Yaad Aye O Piya Bulaye, was Asha Posley. She had appeared in films in Lahore before 1947. Her father, Inayat Ali Nath, composed the score for Teri Yaad.
Posley’s vocal abilities held her in good stead when her acting career failed to take off. She was reduced to appearing in vamp parts and supporting roles, often paired with the popular Pakistani screen comedian Nazar, but she continued to sing and also appeared on the radio and the stage.