So sincere, you could swear by him! Chubby, and baby-faced, Masroor Anwar, the versatile lyricist of our film industry, felt eternally indebted to Pakistan. And his patriotic songs are a testimony to that. Evergreen hits like Mehdi Hasan’s Apni Jaan nazr karoon, apni wafa pesh karoon were the heart and soul of the Pakistani struggle against the Indian attack in 1965. A remarkable poet and lyricist, a message-delivering scriptwriter and an impressive dialoguewriter, Masroor Anwar also tried his hand at direction and did a nice enough job of it too.
When Parvez Malik came back from America, after higher studies, he began talks with Waheed Murad on a new line of cinema in Pakistan, which hinged on the musical socio-romantic films, and called their production house, Film Arts. Masroor Anwar was also a part of the group that formed to bring in a fresh wave in the industry. He and Sohail Rana made this a merry band of talented youngsters. Masroor was the scriptwriter and the dialogue-writer of the first film put on display by this quartet, Heera Aur Patthar. He wrote a lovely script, which was a hit from the beginning. He wrote the loveable stories of two other major hits for Film Arts, which were Arman and Ehsan. If you have seen these movies, you can see that his talent at writing scripts was uncanny. His first script, Heera Aur Patthar was a film totally based on the local atmosphere of Sindh and Thar, and he dealt with it superbly, adding stock characters like that of a music-lover played by Latif Charlie or Waheed’s simple-minded sister from Thar.
Arman was in consonance with the times, as romantic musicals with a social message were the call of the day, and Masroor showed his prowess by building situations that were both exciting and light-hearted. For instance, when Nirala, the regular comic in Waheed’s movies, comes to him to ask for help to attract the attention of his ladylove, Waheed explains that playback is the answer. When Nirala inquires as to what he means, Waheed explains that “as Rafi sings for Dilip Kumar and Rushdi sings for Waheed Murad, I’ll sing for you, and you can move your lips on that.” The situation becomes interesting when the plan goes into action, as Zeba, Waheed’s love, also comes on to the balcony, along with Nirala’s girl on the other balcony. So, while Waheed sings for Zeba, Nirala has no problem lipsyncing on it, with, no doubt, his own hilarious antics. The song was composed by Suhail Rana, sung by Rushdi and penned by Masroor Anwar, phrased Betab ho udhar turn! Bechain ham idhar burn! Pal pal guzarta jaey/ Nadaniyon ka mausam. All these light-hearted touches added that freshness that was quite different from the laborious romantic style of the fifties. Ehsan, specially, was brilliantly written by Masroor. It was, at the same time, light-hearted and also gravely serious, affording a remarkable character study, where the psychology of a young widow (she thinks so), Zeba, her demonic husband, Ibrahim Nafees, and a chatterbox girl child, played by Jugnu, who has a crush on the charming doctor next door. Masroor Anwar wrote many other stories too, apart from his many hit songs in films. Amongst the scripts he contributed were Doraha, DiI Mera Dharkan Teri, Ishq-e-Habib, Phool Mere Gulshan Ka, Jab Jab Phool Khilay, Mohabbat Zindagi Hai, Saiqa, Qurbani (dialogues were by Amjad Islam Amjad), Talash, Hum Dono, Kiran Aur Kali, etc. For Saiqa, he got the Nigar Award for Best Dialogue-writer in 1968.
Of course, in the department of lyric-writing, he was one of the best in the history of our cinema. His best songs were included in films like Saiqa, Anjuman, Pehchan, Qurbani, Saughat, Biwi Ho To Aisi and Bulandi, and for all these films, he got Nigar Awards. Who can forget songs like Mehdi Hasan’s Ik sitam aur men jaan, abhi jaan baqi hai (Saiqa), Runa Laila’s Dil dharkey, main tum se yeh kaise kahoon, kehti hai men nazar shukniya (Anjuman), Akhlaq Ahmed’s Ae dil apna dard bhula kar geet khushi ke gaey ja (Pehchan), Mehnaz’s Yeh zindagi kabhi kabhi ajnabi see Iagti hai (Qurbani), Dunyawalo tumhari dunya mein, yoon guzari hai zindagi hum ne (Saughat), A. Nayyar and Mehnaz’s Aa palkon kee chilman mein basa ke tujhe pyar doon (Bulandi), etc. These are songs that will live on for hundreds of years. And why not? Masroor Anwar poured out his life and soul into those wordings – Zulqarnain Shahid