Caption – Rattan Kumar with Neelo
Real Name – Syed Nazir Ali
Profession – Actor (Child-Star / Hero)
Active Years – 1940s – 1970s
Nationality – U.S. Citizen
Religion – Muslim
Date of Birth – March 19th, 1941 (Ajmer, India)
Date of Death – December 11th, 2016 (California, USA)
Debut Film – Dil Ki Aawaz (1948)
Last Film –
Significant others in the Film Industry – Abbas Ajmeri (Father, Actor), Wazir Ali (Elder Brother, Producer), Mushtaq (Younger Brother, Actor)
Rattan Kumar, along with Baby Tabassum and Baby Naaz, was the most sought-after child-star of Bombay Cinema. Rattan would inevitably bag the coveted role whenever the demands of the script called for the hero’s childhood to be shown on screen. As such, Rattan played the childhood roles for quite a few important actors of India, including Nasir Khan in Aangarey (1954) and Bharat Bhushan in Baiju Bawra (1952). Raj Kapoor’s Boot Polish (1954), a film on the street kids of Bombay, brought international accolades for Rattan and his child co-star, Baby Naaz. In the mid-fifties he came to Pakistan with his family and settled in Lahore. His first appearance was in Sharif Nayar’s Masoom (1957), a family melodrama which attracted a large female audience. The song Lelo Choorian, picturized on Rattan, became a favorite of children of all ages.
Bedari (1957), his second movie in Pakistan, was a carbon copy of India’s Jagriti (1954). It dealt with national sentiments and was a colossal success mainly because of the songs that the music director Fateh Ali Khan adapted (read plagiarized) from the original. Almost all the songs were the same except for some changes in the lyrics to suit our locale. Mahatma Gandhi or Bapu of Jagriti (1954) was changed to Quaid-e-Azam or Baba-e-Qaum. Rattan was launched as the leading man in Khalil Qaiser’s Nagin (1959). The film did great business, but just like many popular child stars of his time Rattan never became successful as a film hero.
Kumar made his directorial debut in 1969 with Daastan. He continued to act sporadically until the 70s. In 1977, a tragedy struck and Kumar’s four-year-old daughter died in an accident in Lahore. “That was when I quit everything. I didn’t want anything to do with the business after that.”
In 1979, Kumar left the country never to return again. “I just couldn’t do it,” he had said. “For two decades, I did not have it in me to return to the same place again.”
In the late 60s, Kumar started working for National Carpets and after traveling to countries like Germany selling Oriental carpets, eventually settled down in the US.
1996 marked a turn in his life, when his lungs collapsed twice in the same year. “But it was the third time, the worst of them all, in 2000, what left me completely paralyzed. I was even in coma for eight days,” Kumar recalled.
However, he got better. “When I regained consciousness, I was paralysed and doctors had said, I wouldn’t walk again. In four to five months, I was driving again.”
Although in his last years, he was on constant portable oxygen tank support, Kumar was a grateful man who never complained about anything. “Why do we complicate life? It’s simple. If we try to understand it, it’s quite simple. I take every day as the last day of my life and enjoy it as much as I can. Jo ho gaya so ho gaya (What’s happened is over). I’m really blessed that I achieved all that I could, and I’m just thankful to Allah for all he has given me.”
After his illnesses increased, there was not much left to do for Kumar. When asked how he spent his days, he said, “I just try to relax and reflect. I also write poetry sometimes.”
Rattan Kumar passed away on December 11th, 2016 in California, USA.
Filmographies might not be 100% accurate or complete because of various reasons including artistes with similar names