Born to a successful film distributor/producer, Nisar Murad, on October 2, 1938 in Karachi, and educated at the Marie Calaco School, Waheed graduated in arts from S.M. Arts College in Karachi and then obtained a Master’s degree in English Literature from the Karachi University. He produced a couple of films — Insan Badalta Hai and Jab Se Dekha Hai Tumhain — through his father’s production house, Film Arts, before his 25th birthday and later ventured into acting as a young and promising actor.
Films were, at that time, dominated by middle-aged actors in lead roles. Waheed not only changed that but also turned around the style of dressing, acting and most importantly, the picturisation of songs. He danced with so much zeal and energy that he put most of his on screen heroines to shame.
Although S.M. Yusuf’s Aulaad provided him with a launch pad and Daaman gave him a chance to work opposite Sabiha Khanum, Santosh Kumar and Neelo, it was Heera Aur Pathar which provided the ‘chocolate hero’, as he was affectionately called, the proverbial big break as an actor. He produced and wrote the film himself and was instrumental in giving a break to his friends, namely director Pervez Malik, poet Masroor Anwar and musician Sohail Rana. The famous playback singer, Ahmed Rushdi, gave his voice to Waheed in the film and the two became inseparable since then, until death did them apart in 1983.
The team of Pervez Malik, Masroor Anwar, Sohail Rana, Ahmed Rushdi and Waheed Murad garnered one hit after another (Armaan, Doraha, Ehsaan, Ussay Dekha Ussay Chaha) with Waheed calling the shots in Ishara (1969) instead of Pervez Malik. Although the movie failed at the box office mainly because it was ahead of its time, he got to sing the popular song, Jaisay Taisay Beet Gaya Din, where he wooed his heroine Deeba on the phone, something unheard in films till then.
While Shammi Kapoor imitated Elvis Presley in India, Waheed did the same in Pakistan in the ’60s, becoming the country’s first rock ‘n’ roll dancing star with Ko Ko Korina (Armaan, 1966). Although he was the most well-dressed actor of his time, along side Santosh Kumar, it was his mannerisms, song picturisation and dialogue delivery in poetic Urdu that endeared him to the masses. His style of acting inspired many actors across the border, with Jeetendra accepting that he began his career as Waheed’s replica and Rajesh Khanna donning the carefree ‘romantic’ attitude that was so typical to Waheed’s.
Being the darling of the Pakistani silver screen saw him as a prolific actor in films of that era. He tried his hand at action with Jab Jab Phool Khilay, a memorable dual role in Hill Station, a suspicious husband in Shabana and an obsessed villain in Sheeshay Ka Ghar, but his forte remained romance, comedy and drama which made his films — Armaan, Doraha, Ehsaan, Devar Bhabi, Insaniyat, Andaleeb, Afsana, Bewafa, Anjuman, Mulaqat, Mohabbat Zindagi Hai, Apne Huay Paraye, Aawaz and Behan Bhai — evergreen and immortal.
Through the span of his career, Waheed worked in about 123 films [114 Urdu, eight Punjabi and one Pushto (Pakhtoon Pa Vilayat Kamba, the failed Pushto version shot in England of Kala Dhanda Goray Loag) ], of which 38 were black-and-white and 85 in color, and earned as many as 32 prestigious film awards, including the ones for best producer, best film and best actor.
Although Waheed paired successfully with Rani, Shamim Ara, Shabnam, Deeba, Babra Sharif, Nisho and Rozina, it was with Zeba that he enjoyed the most hits, including Heera Aur Pathar (his first film as hero), Eid Mubarak, Kaneez, Armaan (Pakistan’s first Platinum Jubilee film), Insaanyat, Maa Baap, Ehsaan and Rishta Hai Pyar Ka (first film to be shot abroad).
The film icon broke many a hearts when he married Salma, the daughter of a Karachi-based industrialist on September 17, 1964. His son Adil Murad, who also made a film debut with Raja Sahib in the mid-90s with Nisho’s daughter Sahiba, failed as an actor despite a comeback on television. His daughter, Aaliya, leads a married life, away from the glitz and glamour of showbiz. In a radio interview before his sudden demise, Waheed chose Bhooli Hui Hoon Dastaan from the film Doraha as his favorite song and ironically, it was an ideal description of his on screen life as well. In the latter part of his career, the actor wasn’t getting the offers he wanted and with most of his so-called friends deserting him, he had to learn the harsh realities of life like all those before him. He died of a heart attack after a couple of fateful events — from his father’s death to a car accident just days before his death. He left the film world and his fans in mourning at the young age of 45.
In life as in death, Waheed Murad remains as legend to the East as Elvis Presley is to the West — they both danced, ruled the hearts of millions and left the world with a vacuum that can never be filled Omair Alavi – Dawn Newspaper