In an era ruled by Waheed Murad, Mohammad Ali and later Nadeem, Rahman was the only Bengali actor-director to rule the box office with his romantic-musical films in the former West Pakistan film industry.

Born Abdur Rahman on February 27, 1937, in erstwhile East Pakistan, Rahman made his film debut in Ehtesham’s Bengali film, Ae Desh Tomar Amar in 1958 as a 21-year-old villain. Later on with Chanda (1962), Talaash (1963) and Bahana (1965), Rahman proved his mettle and went on to become one of the most popular actors in the then film industry of East and West Pakistan. It is notable that Ae Desh Tomar Amar also saw Jharna make her film debut as Shabnam and afterwards the Rahman-Shabnam jori became a popular duo for film goers as their films Talaash, Darshan, Chahat and Do Saathi became magnum-opus hits.

Before the partition of East and West Pakistan, he had turned director with Indhan in 1966 that was a success and paved his way for more directorial ventures such as Darshan (1967), Jahan Baje Shehnai (1968), Kangan (1969), Chahat (1974), Do Saathi (1975) and Milan, the last being his first film after his return to the newly formed Bangladesh. The suspense film Dhamaka, based on an Ibn-i-Safeeh novel and featuring the classic literary character Inspector Jamshed, was the biggest failure of his career. The film, produced by Maulana Hippy and directed by Qamar Zaidi in 1974, ensured that debutant Javed Sheikh stayed away from films for a decade while it also confirmed that Rahman was at his best in romantic-musicals.

In the 1960s, while riding on success both as an actor and director, his progress was halted by an accident which saw him lose one of his legs. He made a triumphant comeback with the help of an artificial limb and was successful afterwards as well. After the creation of Bangladesh, Rahman decided to continue his film career in Pakistan unlike other actors from the former East Pakistan. He detested action-oriented roles and was usually the hero who was thrashed by villains only to have the last laugh at the climax, either through a romantic tandem or through sheer luck. The most important factor in his success was that he not only directed films brilliantly but also acted the same way under renowned directors. His work with others included Sharif Nayyar’s Dosti, Nazrul Islam’s Pyaasa, Ehtishaam’s Chanda, Zaheer Rehan’s Bahana, Mostafiz’s Talaash, Akhtar Yusuf’s Sawan Aaya Par Tum Nahin Aaye and Iqbal Akhter’s Nadaan.

Rehman died of old-age complications in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2005 – Omair Alavi – The Dawn Media Group

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