World is a stage. And very few characters of this stage have the right metabolism to stay and perform on it for long. But, there are those too, who stay for a short while, and perform such distinctive acts that people do not forget them for a long time. Amongst those, in the film business, Shaukat Hussain Rizvi must be considered a pioneering Muslim director of hit Urdu films in the sub-continent. He belonged to a reputed Syed family of Azamgarh, in UP, and he began his career as an assistant projectionist in Calcutta, in the early 1930s, and gradually learnt enough during this period to get a job in the editing department of Madan Theatre, Calcutta. Under Ezra Mir, a brilliant Jew technician at Madan Theatre, he learned the finer points of the profession. Ezra (1903-93), whose actual name was Edwin Myers, had a flourishing career at the studios, taught Rizvi the basics of film-making. Ezra was the first technician to go to America and study motion picture industry of Hollywood. He came back to join Ardeshir Irani, a stalwart of the era, and then edited Alam Ara, the first talkie of India. Ezra, later, directed a film, Noor Jahan in 1931. So, Shaukat had the best men around him to learn the essentials of cinematic discipline.
Shaukat Hussain, a personable and handsome man with a good taste for dressing for various occasions, was noted early and got a lot of attention from the top showmen of India. Famous film-maker and financier, Seth Dalsukh Pancholi noted him, when he edited a song for his film, Khazanchi, titled Sawan ke nazarey hain, and he brought him to Lahore from Calcutta, where he edited films like Gul Bakaoli, Khazanchi etc. After editing a few movies, he was chosen by Dalsukh Pancholi as the new director of their next venture, Khandaan. Of course, he wasn’t the first Muslim director; Agha Hashar Kashmiri, the doyen of theatre in India, was the first to direct a talkie in India, in 1931, titled Bharti Baalak. Famous makers like A. R. Kardar, Abdur Rehman Kabli, Sohrab Moodi, Mehoob Khan (first film: Al-Hilal), Rafiq Ghaznavi, Imtiaz Ali Taj, S. M. Yousuf, Zia Sarhadi, Daud Chand, Najam Naqvi (who later introduced Shamim Ara in Kanwari Bewa, in Pakistan), Nazeer, Noor Mohammad Charlie, Zahoor Raja, Sibtain Fazli, W. Z. Ahmed, Wajahat Mirza Changezi and others had already made an impact on the sub-continent cinema. But, Shaukat’s Khandaan was one of the first big hits of the era, which provided footing for young Noor Jahan and Pran, the leading artistes of the film. Noor Jahan had acted in films before Khandaan too, as Baby Noor Jahan and later in teenaged roles, but Khandaan was her first film as a leading lady. She not only captured the hearts of the Indian cine-goers, but also the heart of Shaukat Hussain Rizvi, who later married her. After their marriage, they made quite a few notable films together, famous amongst which are Zeenat and Jugnu, the latter with Dilip Kumar. Rizvi also made other hits like Naukar and Dost.
Shaukat Rizvi can be called a brilliant craftsman more than a creative genius. His first and foremost wish was to establish his own film studio. He did have his wish granted when he took possession of the burnt down Shorey Film Studio. He made it a most well equipped studio of Pakistan. Unfortunately, he could not keep it in the best fettle due to his plummeting career. Imtiaz Ali Taj, an erstwhile intellectual, directed film Gulnar for Shaukat Sahab in Pakistan, while he also gave an opportunity to Noor Jahan to direct her own film, Chan Ve. But, basically, in Pakistan, he could not achieve that high status, which seemed his destiny at one time. Noor Jahan and Shaukat H. R. separated after cricketer Nazar Mohammed’s scandal with Noor Jahan, and later, Shaukat Sahab married Yasmin, who had herself parted ways with her first husband, Jaffar Shah Bukhari. The marriage was a very successful one, and proved to be a blessing for both of them. Noor Jahan and Shaukat Sahab worked in just two films together, namely Chan Ve and Gulnar, but later, he cast Noor Jahan as a playback for the first time in his film, Jaan-e-Bahaar, which has such a tragic hit as Kaisa naseeb laee thee, filmed on Musarrat Nazir. From Noor Jahan, his sons were Akbar Hussain Rizvi and Asghar Hussain Rizvi, while Zill-e-Huma is the only daughter from her. With Yasmeen, he had two sons as well, namely Syed Shahenshah Hussain Rizvi and Syed Ali Murtaza Rizvi. In Pakistan, Jaan-a Bahaar, Aashiq and Dulhan Rani were his other films, but they did not measure up to the standards that he had set for himself earlier – Zulqarnain Shahid