The First ****** Nobel Laureate


“Salam” is a feature length documentary about the Nobel prize winning Pakistani physicist, Abdus Salam. The film reveals the extraordinary life of the charismatic Abdus Salam, in all its color, vitality and tragedy. It is the story of a man who traversed two worlds with ease: one of science and religion, modernity and tradition, war and peace and obscurity and celebrity.

When he won the Nobel prize in 1979, he became the very first Pakistani to achieve this distinction, and only the fourth from the subcontinent.

Born in 1926 in a remote village in Punjab, British India, Salam was a child prodigy. He came from humble beginnings, growing up in a small brick house with a large family of eleven. While Salam’s legacy looms large in the world of physics, he is largely forgotten in Pakistan because of his faith. Children do not read about him and he is still vilified and maligned by right wing clerics for being a “Qadiani"—a derogatory term for someone belonging to the Ahmadiyya community.

By telling this complex story of a man who due to extremism could not strengthen his people as he so deeply desired, the film draws attention to the state of affairs in the world today, where knowledge is sacrificed at the altar of ignorance and intolerance, depriving the coming generation of all that is precious.


December 5th, 2018 | 5:45 PM
Amnesty International South Asia
South Asia Human Rights Festival
Tharangani Hall, National Film Corporation
Colombo 7, Sri Lanka

December 15, 2018 | 4:30 pm
NYIT Auditorium on Broadway
South Asian International Film Festival
New York, NY

November 19, 2018 | 6:00 PM
Human Rights Film Festival BARCELONA / Paris / NYC
Barcelona, Spain

November 11th, 2018 | 3:30 PM| Lux 6 |  Q&A with Producer & Director
November 8th, 2018 | 1:45 PM | Lux 2 | Discussion with Ammeke Kateman
Inscience – International Science Film Festival
Nijmegen, The Netherlands

November 9th, 2018 | 5:00 PM
Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics – ICTP
in conjunction with the “World Science Day for Peace and Development
Trieste, Italy

October 29th, 2018 | 8:00pm
Institut de physique du globe de Paris
International Science Film Festival Pariscience, Paris, France

October 28th, 2018 | 2:30pm
Cinéma de Sève
1400 Blvd. De Maisonneuve West
South Asian Film Festival of Montreal

October 25th, 2018 | 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Havemeyer Hall Room 309
Columbia University
3000 Broadway, New York, NY 10027

October 13th, 2018 | 5:00pm – 7:30 pm
Anna Head Alumnae Hall, UC Berkeley,
in collaboration with
Cal PSA and Institute of South Asian Studies

October 4th, 2018 | 7:00pm
13th Tasveer South Asian Film Festival
South Asia Center, Geballe Auditorium, Physics building
UW, Seattle, WA

September 20, 2018 | 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM & 8:30 PM–10:30 PM (two screenings)
Columbia College Chicago
1104 S. Wabash Avenue Chicago, IL 60605
Chicago South Asian Film Festival
Winner, Best Documentary – Audience Choice

September 21, 2018 | 7:00 PM–9:00 PM
Ray & Maria Stata Center
Room 32-123
32 Vassar Street, Cambridge, MA
MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology

September 7th, 2018 | 6:00pm
Room 103 Reiss Bldg, Georgetown University
McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University
in collaboration with
DCSAFF – Washington DC South Asian Film Festival
Winner, Best Documentary – Audience Choice

May 12th, 2018 | 6:30pm – 8:00pm
Mathematical Institute
L2, Andrew Wiles Building
University of Oxford,
Radcliffe Observatory Quarter
Woodstock Rd, Oxford OX2 6GG, UK

Mar 24th, 2018 | 12:15 PM
UNC Charlotte Main Campus
Fretwell 100

Jan 6th, 2018
Raw Science Film Festival
Winner, Best Documentary
Lobero Theater
Santa Barbara, CA



What draws any artist to create something is how the subject speaks to him or her on an emotional level. To me as a documentary filmmaker, it is no different.

When the producers Zakir Thaver and Omar Vandal brought this project to me, they had invested ten years scouring every aspect of the remarkable life of Abdus Salam. What they had collected was so thorough and expansive, that it was hard to ignore. Their commitment to the project was unrelenting and that was the first thing that drew me in. When I did my own cursory research on the layered life of Abdus Salam it became instantly clear to me that this was a very important story and it had to be told in the present climate fraught with Islamophobia and other prejudices.

Abdus Salam led a very rich and accomplished life. Apart from being the first Muslim to win a Nobel Prize in Physics, he was only among a handful to have accomplished this task from that part of the world. More than his accolades, what drew me to his story, was the tortured life he led, ostracized, forgotten and exiled from his own country, just for his personal beliefs. Another aspect, which I found fascinating, was how Salam reconciled being a deeply religious man, while operating at the highest reaches of science, whose primary goal in many ways was to render religion and a belief in god obsolete. This dichotomy and paradox, which was peppered through his life, is intimately explored in “Salam” making it a deeply personal and intimate portrait to watch.

Salam was born in pre-partition India and was laid to rest in Pakistan in 1996. I was born and brought up in India but currently call New York home. Zakir and Omar were both born in Pakistan. The painful history of our birth nations seventy years on, is a constant reminder and the politics surrounding it only worsens. But the camaraderie we have found as collaborators speaks volumes about why this film is what it is. For this reason alone, this project is close to my heart and we hope to share this feeling with the world through the life of “Salam”.

ANAND KAMALAKAR is a Brooklyn based film director, producer and editor. The Gowanus Canal (Winner, Best Film, Brooklyn Film Festival), Chief Engineer Conrad, Citizen Sharma, Building Bridges, 300 Miles to Freedom and Garwin are some of the films he has directed. Heart of Stone a film he produced and edited won over ten awards including Best Film at Slamdance Film Festival, Philadelphia Film Festival and Cinequest Film Festival. It also won an award for Best Editing at the Santa Fe Film Festival. Anand has worked as an editor for Primetime (ABC), Dateline (NBC) and 20/20 (ABC) and was the editor of the 2004 Emmy nominated ABC special on the Iraq war titled Brothers in Arms. Anand was also a creative consultant on the academy award-winning documentary Born Into Brothels. His last project Holy (un)Holy River premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and has won several awards around the world.


ASAD FARUQI is an Emmy Award nominated cinematographer, photographer and filmmaker. Over the past six years he has shot a number of award-winning films, including 2016’s Academy Award winning film, “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness,” and 2012’s Academy and Emmy Award winning film, “Saving Face.” Other notable works include Emmy and Alfred I Dupont Award winning, “Pakistan’s Taliban Generation,” “Song of Lahore,” “Peacekeepers: A Journey of a Thousand Miles,” and “Transgenders: Pakistan’s Open Secret.” Asad’s work has been featured on HBO, The New York Times, PBS, Channel 4, CBC, SBS, and Arte. Asad recently directed and produced his debut feature "Armed With Faith" which played at number of festivals and is slated for a 2018 release with PBS.


Award Winning Film composer and musician JOHN McDOWELL is one of the leading pioneers of the world music scene who travels deeply into the realms of spirit and cultures and creates works of classic beauty. McDowell achieved worldwide recognition with his soundtrack to the Academy Award winning documentary Born Into Brothels. McDowell is also a highly gifted pianist, percussionist, producer, commissioned composer and conductor. He has also performed with Sting, Carlos Santana, Rusted Root, Santana, Krishna Das, and Michael Wimberly. John’s doing some quite brave things. "It’s hard to mix cultural strains together and have continuity. He does that wonderfully.” - David Bowie


OMAR VANDAL received his Ph.D. in Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis studying tuberculosis at the Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences in New York City, and now lives in Seattle.


We (Zakir and Omar) met in college the year Salam passed (1996) and it was there, outside of Pakistan that we discovered how prominent Salam was on the global stage. Saddened by the absence of Salam’s story in our own books and popular culture, in 2004 we decided to begin researching and developing a film on Abdus Salam. This was a 10-year long process as we raised funds, travelled far-and-wide to get-to-know and film those who knew Salam, and meticulously collected, researched and digitized old photos, audio recordings, and video clips that were discovered in dusty old cabinets with family members, at University physics departments, and at television networks in all corners of the globe from South Korea to Kuwait. In 2015 we were introduced to Anand Kamalakar by a mutual friend who described him as "a strong intellect able to handle the role of editor and director" and "a great fit, brainiac for the project". Other plusses were that Anand speaks Hindi/Urdu, had studied physics as an undergraduate, and had just completed a biopic of another illustrious physicist, Richard Garwin. Together we embarked on the journey to complete this definitive biopic on Salam.

ZAKIR THAVER is a Science/Education Media Producer. He worked as Consultant for Granada America in New York. He also produced a UNESCO-funded science TV series in Pakistan, and has worked in curriculum development as well as distance learning via TV at the Aga Khan University. Zakir majored in physics at the College of Wooster, in Ohio.


Abdus Salam is born on 29 January in the country town of Jhang, British India's Western Punjab .
At 14, scores the highest marks ever recorded for the Matriculation Examination at the University of the Punjab and wins a scholarship to join the Government College, Lahore.
Publishes his first scientific paper, entitled: “A Problem of Ramanujam” at the age of 17.
Graduates from the Government College obtaining a Master's degree in mathematics. Awarded a scholarship to St. John's College, Cambridge.
Obtains a Bachelor of Arts degree with double first-class honours in mathematics and physics in only two years, instead of the normal three.
Completes Ph.D. in theoretical physics at the age of 24.
Becomes head of the Mathematics Department of the University of Punjab.
Returns to Cambridge as a lecturer in mathematics and Fellow of St. John's College. Visits Pakistan occasionally as adviser on science policy to the Government.
Attends and serves as scientific secretary at the first Atoms for Peace Conference convened by the United Nations in Geneva and helps set-up the United Nations Advisory Committee for Science and Technology.
Develops the groundbreaking idea of neutrino parity violation, but postpones publication until next year, losing first claim rights. Joins the Imperial College, London.
Becomes Professor of Applied Mathematics at Imperial College.
At age of 33, becomes the youngest Fellow of the Royal Society of London.
Proposes the creation of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Becomes Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of Pakistan.
With the help of the IAEA, the Italian Government and the city of Trieste, establishes the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste.
Presents the theory which shows how the electromagnetic and weak forces may be considered manifestations of a single more fundamental force, the electroweak force.
Pakistani Parliament declares Ahmadis non-Muslims. As a member of the Ahmadiyya Community, resigns from his position as Chief Scientific Adviser to the President, grows a beard in protest, and adopts the name Muhammad "to prove himself a Muslim".
Shares the Nobel Prize for Physics with Steven Weinberg and Sheldon Glashow, Harvard University (USA), "for their contribution to the theory of the unified weak and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles, including, inter alia, the prediction of the weak neutral current".
Is conferred numerous honours and awards for his scientific work as well as receives recognition for his contribution to the progress of peace and international scientific co-operation.
Publishes the first edition of his collected essays "Ideals and Realities". It will be translated into ten different languages.
Establishes the Third World Network of Scientific Organizations (TWNSO) in Trieste, in order to improve the status of science and technology in the developing world.
Develops a project to set up a network on 20 international centres of excellence in various fields of applied science, technology and environment modelled on ICTP, to be located in the South.
Retires as Director and becomes President of ICTP.
Passes away in Oxford, England on 21 November 1996 after a long battle with Progressive Suprauclear Palsy. He is buried next to his parents in Rabwah, Pakistan.
On the occasion of a memorial meeting in November, ICTP is renamed "The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics".
To honour his services, the Government of Pakistan issues a commemorative stamp carrying his portrait. In an accompanying statement, declares him to be "one of the most outstanding scientists of Pakistan".

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Salam Photos

Production Stills