Himalayawala in Gumnaam (1954)

It has been said before that most of the early film artists were already fully out of the burner in India, and they literally put what they learnt in Bombay to better use in the Pakistani silver screen to illuminate it with a special spark. In this context, one such artiste who made it in Pakistan with much adulation and incredible voice is Himaliyawala. Known for his impressive decibel and his typical dialogue delivery, he made a place of himself amongst such senior luminaries as Late Ghulam Mohammad, Shahnawaz, M. Ismail, Alauddin and Talish. It is sometimes asserted that if Prithvi Raj stands heads and shoulders above anybody for his role of Mahabali Akbar in Mughal-e-Azam, Himaliyawala must be on the second leg of the podium for his echoing delivery as Akbar in Anwar Kamal Pasha’s Anarkali, which was released in 1958.

Himalyawala belonged to Dehradoon, that most beautiful health resort in U.P., and was a scion of a very well-known family of the region. His real name was Afzal Khan. Fair complexioned, blessed with tousled long hair and a tall and well built frame, he looked like a film star. Pining for silver screen dominance and a chance at expressing himself on the media, he visited the Bombay industry. When he met Shaukat Hussain Rizvi, the famous director stepped backed and looked him over. “You say you want a small role in films?” he said. “Just go back to the gate and a make turn to walk in.” When Himaliyawala did as he was told, Rizvi Sahab smiled and shook his head. “Don’t be nervous. Just walk as in casually as you were behaving before you met me.” Having judged him from that entry, Shaukat Hussain Rizvi nodded approval. He had just had a major success in his milestone movie, Khandan, and was fully smitten by Madam Noor Jahan. He was in a good mood and referred him to his friend and colleague, director M. A Mirza. “You must have heard of Pethawala, Ponawala and others, but today I have brought you a rare gift, a remarkable young man, whom I have given the screen name, Himalayawala.”

Hence, Himalyawala made his debut for Bharat Talkies’ movie, Kisi Kee Biwi, which was directed by M.A. Mirza in 1942. The leading actors of the film were Anuradha and E. Billimoria, while the famous Rafiq Ghaznavi composed its music. Himalyawala was noticed enough to be presented in another movie the same year called Mata, which was directed by a fellow called Gunjaal. Next year he was again working for a couple of noticeable films like Aankh Kee Sharm, which had Prithvi Raj in a leading role, and Vishwas, the musical score of which was given by Firoze Nizami. Himalyawala made quick inroads into the industry and was very soon being considered an integral part of the big banner films, along with stalwarts like M. Ismail, Jagdish Seth et al. His other movies in India include Qismatwala, Humayyun, Eilan, Dharam, Samandaron Kee Malika, etc. Humayyun was directed by top director, Mehboob Khan, while Himalyawala also figured in an important role in A. R Kardar’s Shahjahan.

It is an interesting detail of his career that he had married the famous Indian playback singer, Amirbai Karnataki. His second wife was an actress called Begum Parveen.

Despite his success in India, Himalyawala was a staunch supporter of Quaid-e-Azam’s ideology and his style of political workings. That fact was again borne out when the Jaal movement started in 1954, against the screening of Indian films. He was always in the forefront of that movement.

After partition he was one of the first artists to come Pakistan. In the very second film that Pakistan produced, called Shahida, Himalyawala acted so inspiringly that his name became known to all and sundry in the country. Shahida was directed by another top artist from India, Luqman, and its music was by Ghulam Haider and G. A. Chishti. Film critics wrote heart-felt reviews of his performance in Shahida, and likened his acting to Mehboob Khan’s hit film in India, Eilan, where he had done similar work. Anwar Kamal Pasha’s Do Aansoo was a very impressive film indeed. In Kundan, released in the last months of 1950, and Shararey, screened in February 1955, he was the hero opposite Ragni. Sailaab, Mehbooba, Roohi, Qatil, Sarfroosh, Gumrah, Gumnam and Anarkali were some of his famous films, where he expressed himself at optimum levels; other films to his credit include Naghma-e-Dil, Chan Ve, Azra, Watan etc. Chan Ve was his only Punjabi film – Zulqarnain Shahid

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  1. You forgot to mention his marriage to my Mother..Patricia Berry. I was his son, born in Bombay in 1948. His brother M.Manal was head of Himalaya Drug Co…

    • Mike Fay,

      Thanks for providing this very interesting information! I am assuming your mom was his second wife (after Amirbai Karnataki and before Begum Parveen). Am I right?

      If you have any other interesting information to share about yourself or your father, please don’t hesitate…!

  2. Grandmother like movies of Hamaliywala. Lollywood website claimed he hailed from Darjeeling. Would like more information on this actor

  3. Afzal Khan Qureshi was his real name and he lived at 1 Canal Bank Rd Lahore…maybe you should contact my cousin Miraj Manal who took over Himalaya drug company after my Uncle Mohamedali Manal died…

    • Mohammad Afzaluddin Qureshi lived in Lahore. He lived a respectable and gracious life. He was famous as a film star and he was most popular among his friends. He belonged to a well respected family from Dehradun and all his family members are very decent and respectful people. He passed away in 1983. I attended his funeral. May God rest his soul in heaven (Ameen).

      • Do you know the details of his death? What news of his children and wife? Do you have any contact information you could provide?

  4. My friend Himalayawala was a wonderful man. He was born in Dehradun -hill station. I have fond memories of him. I have such good things to talk about him that I wonder where to start. He was a kind hearted, caring, helpful and a generous person. I pray for him in every Namaz. May God rest his soul in heaven (Ameen).

    • Did you get to meet Himalayawala’s family? Sources say he married actress Begum Parveen. How many children did he have? Are they also in the film industry. Any names or contact details if any, kindly provide.

    • Himalayawala’s real name was Mohd. Afzaluddin. He did not belong to Doon, nor was he born here. His elder brother Mohd. Misal Uddin came to Doon with his wife & daughter & his father. They rented a house from my father( 45 Gandhi Road) & lived there till the got acquired the place for Dron hotel. As my father was the magistrate , he procured a job as a clerk for his father.
      Mohd. Manal Uddin & Mohd. Afzaluddin lived in Bombay. Manal Uddin came to doon & his farm at least once in 2 months. He made it a point to visit my father because of all that he had one for them & helped them to buy thE farm & helped them to settle down . It was there they grew herbs for the Himalaya drug company & later on in Bangalore. We didn’t see much of Himalayawala in Doon. Mike Faye’s cousin Neelam Misal divides her time between America, Delhi& Dehra Dun.

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