Born in Karachi on 10th November 1937, Mushtaq Gazdar did his post graduation in physics from Karachi University. However his heart lay in the art of film making and he pursued his passion by first apprenticing in film studios in Lahore and then taking film courses in London while working there as a teacher.
He returned to Pakistan and set up an independent production house Films d'Art in 1967. During his career which lasted till the day he died on November 15, 2000, he had created an important body of work.
His films have shown at international film festivals and the docudrama They are Killing the Horse won him the coveted Grand Prix at the Tampere International Short Film Festival in Finland. This and another film, Ten Days of Lamentation were banned during Zia's martial law. His films have been awarded Pakistan film industry's famed Nigar Award for best locally produced documentary films. He was also associated with international film productions, including the Emmy Award winner, Traffik.
In 1992, he was awarded the prestigious Pride of Performance Award by the President of Pakistan for his contribution to the art of film making.
He was on the governing body of the Arts Council of Karachi and he also authored Pakistan Cinema 1947-1997 (published by OUP) a seminal work on the Pakistan film industry.
They are Killing the Horse (1978)
Grand Prix winner at Tampere International Film Festival, this film shows the plight of a young woman who suffers depression on account of social and sexual repression all around her. Her family takes her to various shrines and pirs in Sindh for cure which results in her condition becoming even worse and complicated. Completed in the aftermath of the 1977 military takeover, this was the first time ever that issues of violence and suppression were addressed on celluloid.
Every year, millions of Muslims mourn the death of Hazrat Imam Hussain, who died in 680 AD while fighting against the establishment of monarchy in the Islamic world. The mourning lasts for 10 days. This film provides a vivid picture of events during the 10 days of lamentation. It captures the spirit and essence of mourning by millions of people in the Muslim world.
Taking selections from the works of four poets – Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, N. Meem Rashid, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Sahir Ludhianvi – as its narration, "Concert on Foothpath" looks at life on the streets of Karachi for the thousands who migrate from the rural areas for a better livelihood. In strange cities, the footpath is a source of comfort for musicians, artisans, craftsmen and workers where they contrive to make a fresh start in urban culture. Some make their way ahead while others become a permanent feature of the footpath life.
A docudrama based on real-life stories of women who have been bought and sold by the agents of slave trade. The film documents their stories as they make the perilous journey from Bangladesh through India to Pakistan and what happens to them once they reach Pakistan.