Dr. Riaz Ali Shah was born in Jhang District in Punjab in 1901. He graduated from King Edwards Medical College in Lahore in 1925, and then came to study in the US. He bought a 16mm movie camera in 1935. As the first color film came out for amateurs in the late 1930's, he returned to India.

Dr. Shah worked in South India, Hissar and other districts in the Punjab with the Health Service. He continued to travel to the US through the 1940's when he settled his family in Lahore. There he would film another twenty years of history. He also founded various Pakistani medical associations, and led the national fight against tuberculosis. He died in 1964.

Much of the film shot by Dr. Shah in the 1930's and 1940's no longer survives. Almost all his black and white nitrate film has disintegrated. The Kodachrome stock from which the excerpts above come has fared better. Nonetheless, many movie reels have little useable film left.

The importance of The Shah Collection lies in the fact that he was the only person to film many of the events and people he did. He also shot things in color. Almost all the other limited film available from the period, whether foreign newsreel or film shot within India before 1947, is black and white.

The five QuickTime movies available through the top menu bar should play automatically if you have the QuickTime Plug-in for Netscape 3.0 (Windows or Macintosh). If you have problems or are using Netscape 2.0 without the QuickTime Plug-in, at the end of each caption there is an alternate way to download each movie and watch it using Movieplayer. The movies are around 1 MB each and can take a while to download depending on your connection.

For the hasty, there are two flash movies, with unique material.

Mysore, 1939 (1 sec, 62K)
Fazlul Haq, 1941 (3 secs, 165K)

The five longer movies are:

Hissar Famine

1.3 MB


1.2 MB

War II

0.9 MB

0.7 MB


1.3 MB

More on The Shah Collection (2 of 2).


© Harappa 1996