The ever-loving doyen of our film industry during the sixties and the seventies was none other than Shabab Kiranvi. From humble beginnings, he rose to great prominence in Lollywood and became the heart and soul of local cinema in a short while. If you can cite one individual in Lollywood, who enriched the industry by introducing talented young men and women, Shabab Sahab would be that individual. From Naghma to Anjuman, and from Syed Kamal to Ghulam Mohyuddin, he always provided the industry with new talent at crucial junctures.
Shabab Sahab’s real name was Hafiz Nazir Ahmed (the prefix ‘Hafiz’ denoted the fact that he was Hafiz-e-Qur’an). He belonged to a family from Kirana, India, and had a small shop of hair styling. But his love for literature, specially poetry and journalism, egged him on to opt for something more creative. In those days, A. Hameed, lovingly called Bhaiyya Hameed in the industry, introduced him to the cinema. They got together to form a film production house named Saerbeen Ltd. and made a film, Jalan, in 1955, which was directed by A. Hameed. lnayat Hussain Bhatti and a dancer called Nadira were paired for this film, but it flopped. Then, after a lapse of three years, Shabab Sahab chose a young, handsome man, Kamal, who looked like Raj Kapoor, for his next venture, Thandi Sarak, where the apple of every eye, Musarrat Nazir was the lead opposite Kamal. Not many people in the industry were optimistic about the film because Musarrat and Kamal were poles apart in mannerisms and moods. Musarrat was vivacious and a master of repartee, while Kamal was outgoing but more sensitive and introverted than he thought he was. So, they fought every second day on the sets, but when Thandi Sarak was released, it did more than moderately. In 1960, the group made a magical episode, Gulbadan, which was also moderate. All this while, A. Hameed was directing the movies.
In 1961, Shabab Sahab directed a film, Suraiyya for the first time. The cast was Nayyar Sultana, Habib, Asad Bukhari and Rukhsana. Suraiyya became a hit and was appreciated by the masses and the classes. Very early, Shabab Kiranvi understood that their first three films did not interest the people, because they did not have family subjects. You cant visualize today, how people swarmed to the cinema houses in the fifties and the sixties to see the romantic social films. So, Shabab Sahab found that Suraiyya was a reminder to him that families will pack the houses if the subject interests them. After that, Shabab Kiranvi’s name became synonymous with family subjects. Mehtab was his next hit, which is known for the acting of Alauddin and that fabulous hit by Rushdi, Gol gappaywala aaya. Film star Naghma was introduced in that film in the title role, playing the sister of Alauddin, who is married in a rich family. Gol gappaywala got the Nigar Award for the best song of the year, while sound recordist, C. Mandodi also got the Nigar for this number.
In his (approx.) 30-year career, Shabab Sahab directed several big hits, and provided the industry with so many artistes that the industry thrived due to such individuals – something we lack today. Shabab Sahab’s films included Maa Ke Aansoo, Shukriya, Fashion, Aaina, lnsaniyat, Tumhee Ho Mehboob Mere, Insan Aur Aadmi, Insaf Aur Qanoon, Afsana Zindagi Ka, Man Kee Jeet, Daman Aur Chingari, Aaina Aur Soorat, Mera Naam Hai Mohabbat, Deewar, Insan Aur Farishta, Saheli, Wadey Kee Zanjeer, Yeh Zamana Aur Hai etc. Can any present director claim to have given even half of such an array of big hits? In Mera Naam Hai Mohabbat, he introduced two talented artistes, Babra Sharif and Ghulam Mohyuddin, who dominated the industry for the next twenty to thirty years. Similarly, he brought forth a champion lady by the name of Anjuman through Wadey Kee Zanjeer, opposite Waheed Murad and Mohammad Ali, who became the queen of the industry for the next twenty years or so. Shabab Sahab was a believer in a star cast, too, and pitted the greats of the industry together. He loved bringing together Mohammad All, Zeba, Waheed Murad, Babra, Deeba, Shabnam and Nadeem. Through these pairings he gave us so many big hits, including Insaf Aur Qanoon, Aaina Aur Soorat, Daman Aur Chingari and Wadey Kee Zanjeer.
Shabab Sahab’s two sons, Zafar Shabab and Nazar Shabab also made many films, but they were not as charismatic nor as successful as their erstwhile father. The reasons could be many, but things could be assessed from the fact that Shabab Studio, which was made by Shabab Sahab with lots of sincere efforts and keenness, and always presented a scene of activity in the seventies, literally became a desolate place after his death on November 5, 1982. Zafar Shabab also died shortly, while Nazar Shabab has been away from film-making for a long time. I have always mentioned that these are the individuals who should be encouraged by the government to come out of their lairs and start anew – not the new upstarts, who don’t even learn the alif bay of film-making and jump into cinema! – Zulqarnain Shahid