Saifuddin Saif was born in Amritsar, in 1922, but most of his higher education was completed in Lahore, where he graduated from Government College. Punjab being the hub of cultural activities, influenced his hobbies, with more literary activities. His poetry evolved and he wrote some very powerful poems during his college days, which immensely made him very popular throughout Punjab. He was already inclined towards writing for films, but the films for which he had written lyrics before partition, were not released due to the traumatic conditions in the subcontinent. Teri Yaad the first film to be released in Pakistan in 1948, started its shooting before partition. Saif wrote songs for it and got a lot of praise for the freshness of his poetry. But the first film he did after Partition was Hichkoley, in 1949. Amanat (1950) and Naveli (1952) were his earliest films, but the true flourish in his career came in 1953, when his songs in Ghulam, Mehbooba became hits. Especially, a duet by Inayat Hussain Bhatti and Munawwar Sultana, titled Koi Soag Hai Fiza mein, in Mehbooba is a memorable one. But, an all conquering hit was yet to be materialized, which turned out to be Payal Mein Geet Hain cham cham ke, in Gumnam (1954), which was so brilliantly sung buy Iqbal Bano under the supervision of the most incredible music director, Master Inayat. It was a number which also became a hot cake in India. This promoted Saifuddin Saif to inaugurate his own film making called Rehnuma Films in 1954. He scripted and presented a film, Raat Kee Baat on this banner, which flopped miserably, but his next movie, in 1957, titled Saat Lakh, literally minted money, as its name and script suggested.
Rasheed Attre gave unforgettable tunes for the film. Who can forget those lilting numbers from his pen like Aaye mausam rangilay suhanay (Zubaida Khanum), Qarar lootney waley (Munir Hussain), etc. They are still on every tongue, even after 50 years of their release. In this context, it must be noted that the first Nigar Award ever to be given to a film-maker, was given to Saifuddin Saif for Saat Lakh, in 1958. He also got Nigar for the best scriptwriter of that film.
In 1959, Saif Sahab came up with another pearl, which was the film Kartar Singh. He had written its sterling script and dialogues, and also directed it with a perfect vision. Allauddin did the central role, which was also to catapult the artiste to newer heights. The film had his lyrics too, but the most stunning song of the whole film was penned by Waris Shah, titled Aj aakhan Waris Shah noon. He later wrote the scripts for his films, Darwaza, Madar-e-Watan and Lut Da Maal. While he also penned impressive scripts for Hasan Tariq Sawal, and much later, for his film Kaloo. He wrote dialogues for Hasan Tariq’s Umrao Jan Ada, Hasan Tariq’s Askari’s Aan, Raza Meer’s Sohni Mahiwal, and Punjabi film Siddha Rasta, etc. His brilliant dialogues in film Professor, a masterpiece of oration by Mohammad Ali, were the highlight of the 1970s.
Saif Sahab, meanwhile, had completed his poetry collection, Kham-e-Kakul, which is full of brilliant ghazals and poems. Poems like Raat kee besukoon khamoshi mein, sung by Mehdi Hasan so sensitively in Sawal, and Loag kehte hai ke parbat se nikal kar chashme, sung by Mehnaz for Sangdil, were carried in Kham-e-Kakul, which were taken later for films. Amongst the films that he wrote his memorable lyrics, for include films like Toofan (Aaj yeh kisko nazar ke samne paata hoon main), Qatil (Ulfat kee nai manzil ku chala), Inteqam, (Dugdugi baja ke), Lakht-e-Jigar (Woh khwab suhana toot gaya), Wadah (Jab tere shehr se guzarta hoon), Aankh Ka Nasha (Bichwa bajey re), Anarkali (Kahan tak sunoge kahan tak sunaoon), Azra (Sab dagh-e-dil charagh bana kar), Tehzeeb (Aaja hum kyun rahein akele), Shama Parwana (Main tera shehr choor jaoonga), Anjuman, (Lag rahee hai mujhe aaj sari faza), Umrao Jan Ada (Katey na katey re ratiyan), Suraiyya Bhopali (Tha yaqeen ka aaeingee yeh raatan kabhi), etc.
It was due to such masters of their trade and that irrepressible literary influence that Lollywood had that unmistakable Seepia hue to it. People like Tanvir Naqvi, Fayyaz Hashmi, Saif, Hazeen Qadri, Jalib, Qateel Shifai, Faiz, Ahmed Rahi, Suroor Barabankvi, Himayat Ali Shehr and others, who made the vital difference with the scripts, dialogues, lyrics and an overall feel of art and craft. With their departure from the industry, who could the industry look up to?
Saifuddin Saif died at the age 72 in 1993.