Amongst those who made a huge difference with new ideas and new angles, Iqbal Shehzad should stand prominently in our star cast of the 60s. Iqbal is the brother of two star cricketers of our country, Waqar Hasan and Parvez Sajjad, but his field of action was not the 22-yards pitch. He was, basically, a competent sound recordist, and worked in Eastern Film Studios, Karachi, as the Chief Sound Engineer. He was a thinking man and had concepts and visions of his own about how to make powerful films. Very soon, he was able to mount his own initiative with the formation of a new production house called Montana Films. In his early twenties, he met the famous beauty from Indian cinema, Rehana, who had come down to Pakistan to see the prospects of settling here. They were so dazzled by each other that they soon got married. At that time, Montana Films was making their first movie, Raat Ke Rahi, in 1960, and so Rehana got the part of Darpan’s glamorous heroine in it. It was the first outing for young lqbal Yousuf as the director, as this film was a remake of his father, S.M. Yousuf’s, Indian hit Guru Ghantaal. Raat Ke Rahi was a huge hit and lqbal Shehzad got an early boost. Later, he produced films like Banjaran, with Hasan Tariq as the director, Shararat (Mohammad Ali, Bahar, and Laila), with Rafiq Rizvi as director, Beti, with Raza Mir making his debut as director, Aik Hee Rasta, Banda Bashar and Bazigar. Some of these movies did good business, and are still remembered by cinema buffs. But, lqbal Shehzad’s best period in cinema began when he directed his own movies.
As the producer, Iqbal did his utmost to upgrade production values and do enough to make it a watchable release but, of course, the final treatment of the film had to be a baby of all the directors. These directors had many early legends to follow. lqbal Shehzad wanted to bring to our cinema his own version of making. He got this chance when he tried his own hand at direction in Badnam, a film based on Manto’s popular short story, Jhumkey. The making of Badnam had a distinct hallmark of somebody who was ready to experiment technically. It had distinctive camerawork, sterling sound and absolutely astounding editing. No wonder, Badnam is still considered a classic. He had cast two of his favorites in this film too: Neelo and Deeboo, one a sexy actress and the other a brilliant musician. Both did well. Neelo was there in Beti and Banjaran too, so she was a part of his whole set up. If you remember the film, you will recall how lqbal Shehzad approached the sensitive storyline. For instance, in a scene, where Alauddin, the tonga driver, takes a man to the Shahi Mohallah, and waits for him in the bazar, to have his pleasure of watching the mujra, lqbal Shehzad elevates his camera on the crane, vertically up over the tonga, to the room just above, where Alauddin’s ex-wife, Nabila is singing for Zamarrud’s mujra, Barey bemurawwat hain yeh husnwaley! It was a stunning elevation, and brilliant drama. Throughout the dance, lqbal used camera angles on parallel levels to show how the heartfelt words echo from the singer, and how a prostitute uses those sensitive words through her tantrums to alluringly magnetize the tamashbeen. It’s this mastery that makes the song, the dance, the expressions, and the whole scene live on in the memory of audiences.
In Bazi, in 1970, lqbal Shehzad tried a different feel. This time, he had to show the upper middle strata, where love triangles are not uncommon. In Bazi, he introduced a sweet young thing, Nisho with established stars Mohammad Ali and Nadeem. lqbal Shehzad was pretty much attracted to this cute girl from Gujrat, who sported delightful dimples when she smiled. In Bazi, lqbal asked Suhail Rana to do the job, who made brilliant hits in the film like Dunya ko ab kya samjhaein (Mehdi Hasan), Thehr bhee jao sanam (Mala), Joban pe thee bahar ratein thee chandni (Habib Wali Mohammad), etc. The film was basically a fascinating match of two brilliant artistes, Ali and Nadeem, and became a big hit.
Iqbal Shehzad directed two other films too, Tiger Gang and Aar Par, relatively moderate ones. But in Tiger Gang, a detective and action vehicle, he brought in foreign technicians, with two famous heroes of British cinema, Tony Kendal and another chap whose name I forget. The motorcycle and jeep chase scenes were excellent in this movie, while some of the other torrid love scenes were also the center of controversy at that time.
Iqbal Shehzad and Rehana had separated earlier, and she married a businessman, Sabir Ahmed. Rehana was last heard to be leading a widow’s life in seclusion. Iqbal Shehzad died in the 1990s, but he remains a torch of scintillating light for others to follow in our cine world – Zulqarnain Shahid