Ilyas Kashmiri, a strongly built, tall and handsome personalitywas one of the best artistes of his age. He proved his mettle not only as hero but also as an anti-hero along with cameo rules in most of the famous films of those days. In whatever film he featured, in a positive or a negative role, he always outshone the rest. Even today he remains an inspiration for the beginners. Hence, he is known as Taya Jee in the film world.
He started his film career before the division of India. His first film was Abida by producer/director Nazir Ahmed under the banner of Hind Pictures. The female lead was played by Swaran Lata in that film and the pair still remain fresh in the memories of cine-lovers. Its music was given by A.R Qureshi and Nazir himself directed the film. Another film of Hind Pictures Malika also had Ilyas Kashmiri in the lead. Shabhna Samarath played the lead against him, and other supporting actors included Husn Ara and Ameen Malik.
After partition, Ilyas was the hero in Nazir’s film Bheegi Palkein while Swaran Lata played against him as heroine. He also featured in a supporting role, that of the hero’s elder brother in Nazir Ajmeri’s Kismet. In this film Santosh and Mussarat Nazir were the hero and heroine respectively. He worked as hero in Saqlain Rizvi’s film Jagga. In Aghaji’s Punjabi film Ziddi he was once again in the lead with Ragni as his heroine. Whereas, in Mahi Munda he played the role of a villain. This marked the emergence of Ilyas in roles other than the hero, and helped him bag many a role from then onwards. He played in Yakkey Wali, Jatti Yaar Bali, Laila Majnoon Nagma-e-Dil, Saltanat, Akhri Nishan, Gul Bakawali, Wada, Bap rey Bap and Hakoomat.
He exhibited his brilliance in the title role of Daud Chand’s film Ishq Par Zor Nahin. He was the producer of this film and Jamila Razzaq played the female lead. The film was a hit. Ilyas’ and Jamila’s role was highly appreciated. Even today they provide guidelines to artistes and new talent.
Other notable films to his credit include Shera, Pinjra, Alam Ara, Do Ustad, Kala Samandar, Awara, Jat Mirza etc