As mentioned several times in the past, Bollywood was teeming with professionals because of the huge theater available for the showing of talents in the subcontinent, in the 1940s. Sheikh Hasan came forward, having been inspired by the social romantic movies. He was fortunate that he was noticed and tried on regular basis by the famous film company, Ranjeet Films. At first, he thought of changing his name for the screen, because there were already well-known artistes in Hindi cinema with names that resembled his, namely Sheikh Mukhtar, Sheikh lqbal and M.A. Hasan. But, his employers advised him against changing his family name. His first film was Nurse, in 1943. Khursheed was the leading lady in the film, who played a nurse with dedication and expression. Arun Prabha and Anil Kumar were the leading men in the movie. But, Shiekh Hasan, in a limited amount of scenes, made people notice him. So, he got another film from the same company, Karvan, in 1944, and that was followed by other such films, namely Prabhu Ka Ghar, which was directed by the famous Wajahat Mirza, and Gawalan, by Babu Rao Patel. He also worked in Cheen Le Azadi and Woh Zamana in 1947, all made by Ranjeet Films.
After Partition, Sheikh Hasan did not rush to the newly formed country across the border. He still had hopes that his career was going to flourish in Indian cinema. In order to make a name for himself in the ensuing exodus of many famous Muslim names to Pakistan, he turned to direction. His debut as a director was Wahab Productions’ film Shehnaz. Famous Begum Para and an actor called Altaf were the leading artistes of this film. This film was screened at the former Naz Cinema, probably in 1949, which used to be a popular theatre on M.A. Jinnah Road, and which is now a plaza opposite Nishat Cinema. This homely production about a Muslim family was not treated well and Sheikh Hasan left for Pakistan.
Shaukat Hussain Rizvi was already in Lahore and was planning a film, titled Tara, after decorating his newly refurbished Shahnoor Studios. He planned to cast Madam Noor Jahan opposite Sheikh Hasan in Tara. But then, Shaukat Sahab was influenced by the failure of some highly publicized early Urdu movies, and saw the big success of Nazeer’s Punjabi film, Pherey, which made him begin a Punjabi movie, Chan Ve. The film, which starred a new, handsome youngster, a bureaucrat, Jahangir Khan (the father of current hero, Shamyl Khan of Larki Punjaban). opposite Noor Jahan did good business, and Tara was forgotten as a non-starter. But, in 1953, producer Khwaja Khadim Hussain began an Urdu film, Barkha, for Evergreen Pictures, and made Sheikh Hasan its director. The film had a new pair in Sabiha and Masood, with Shammi, Nazar and Sultan Khoosat in important roles.
Sheikh Hasan was a sincere and genial person. He was amongst those who plan each film to the last spotlight. When he encountered the non-serious behavior of some producers, directors and actors in the industry, he felt nonplussed. He has a great contribution to the Sindhi industry, which actually took root due to his first Sindhi film in this country, Omar Marvi, which was a huge hit. Later, he also made Sindhi films like Shehro Feroz, Noori Jam Tamachi and Mehran Ja Moti. He was very intensely involved in the history and the conditions of Sindh province, and made a film on the British period in Sindh, called Jaag Utha Insan, with an advocate (later a judge), Haider Bakhsh as its producer. The film starred Mohammad Ali, Waheed Murad and Zeba. The film shows his professional handling of a sensitive subject. Sheikh Sahab showed his love for the national language by making the only film of its kind in this country, Hamari Zuban, in 1955. Sheikh Sahab made other Urdu movies too, including Marvi, in Urdu, Parai Zameen, Lakhon Fasaney, Jhuk Gaya Aasman, Gata Jaey Banjara and Truck Driver in Pushto. Sheikh Sahab gave chances to youngsters on a regular basis. In Jhuk Gaya Aasman, in 1970, the leading lady was the lovely Tarannum, one of the reason being that she was the producer of the film too, but Sheikh Sahab’s contribution was the introduction of an expressive actor called Moodi, who was cast opposite Tarannum. Similarly, in Gata Jaey Banjara, Sheikh Sahab cast a handsome man, Agha Sajjad with an established actress, Zamarrud, but the film didn’t succeed. Agha Sajjad did many more films after this, and he is today the father of a young and beautiful TV actress, Suman Agha. So, Sheikh Sahab tried many such new artistes. But, when it came to looking after him in his last days, nobody from the industry came forward, and he died a broken man.
We have a fine cinematic history for a young nation, but heroes die broken men in this country!’ – Zulqarnain Shahid