Waheed Murad, the chocolaty hero

Waheed Murad, the chocolaty hero of Lollywood (Pakistani film industry)

In his film Armaan

Speaking of the downfall of the Pakistani film industry, how can we forget hey days of the Pakistani film industry and the ever-green legends like Darpan, Santosh, Habib, Aslam Pervez, Muhammad Ali, Nadeem & Shahid.  The rise of Pakistani film industry in 1960s is incomplete without the reference of Waheed Murad.  Waheed Murad, the only rock and roll actor and the first superstar of Pakistan. He was not only a classic on screen performer but also a producer and a script writer.  He famous for his charming expressions, attractive personality, tender voice and unusual talent for acting. Waheed is considered as one of the most famous and influential actors of South Asia. He is often referred to as “the Chocolaty Hero” or “Chocolate Hero”.

Born in Karachi, Sindh, British India, started his film career as cameo in 1959 in the film Saathi, when he was 21 years old.  His full-time film career began in 1962 with the film Aulaad, in which he appeared in a supporting role.  He produced a film Heera aurPathar in 1964, in which he appeared in a leading role for the first time.  He became the leading figure of film industry after a series of commercially successful films during 1964 to 1971.  His naughty facial gestures, romanticism and alluring performance style duringpicturisation of songs made him immensely popular–and controversial.

One of his biggest successful films is Armaan, which was produced by him, made a pivotal impact on the sub-continental film industry such that the Pakistani film industry was considered as the rising star and the film made him a superstar overnight. Once, in an interview in 1967, he said that Dilip Kumar, too, was not an immortal actor.

In November 2010, after a long period of 27 years after his death, the Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari awarded him the Sitara-e-Imtiaz, the third highest honour and civilian award by the State of Pakistan, given in the fields of literature, arts, sports, medicine, or science.

Film career

For a detailed filmography, see Waheed Murad filmography.

Waheed & Zeba, the first on-screen Romeo & Juliet pair in Pak films, in the their first blockbuster movie Heera aur Pathar

Waheed Murad started his film career by joining his father’s established ‘Film Art’ in 1961 as producer of the film Insaan badalta hai. In his second film as producer Jab se dakha hai tumhein he cast Darpan with Zeba as heroine. Afterwards, Darpan most of the time started coming late at studio. Zeba suggested Waheed to cast himself as hero in his next film. Waheed was not ready to sign himself in his own movies. But when the same suggestion came from his old good friend Pervaiz Malik, he accepted it on the condition that if Zeba would be his co-star, Zebaaccepted in return (according to Zeba). As a result he firstly appeared in a supporting role in 1962’s Aulad. The film was directed by his friend S.M. Yousuf. Aulad got much more acclaims from critics, and it also got the Nigar award in the best film’s category for the year. Heera aur pathar was his first movie as a leading actor and considered to be his major breakthrough. He got the Nigar award in the best actor category for the same film.

In 1966, he acted in Armaan under his production which was directed by Pervaiz Malik. Armaan broke all the box office records at that time and completed 75 weeks in theatres, gave him the status of superstar or perhaps the first superstar of Pakistani films. The film is a romantic and melodious love story. The songs likeKoko korina…Akele na jana…Betaab ho udhar tum… and Zindagi apni thi ab tak… sung by legendary singer Ahmed Rushdi became extremely popular among the youth especially among the college girls. He received two Nigar awards for the categories best producer and best actor for the film Armaan. During the same year, he starred in another superhit film Jaag utha insaan with co-star Zeba. This fact is on record that in Zeba’s success, Waheed had a very important contribution as he cast her in his films and brought country wide fame for her.

In 1967, he appeared as leading actor in masterpieces like DevarbhabiDorahaInsaaniyat and ‘Maan baapDevar bhabi is considered as one of his best movies and completed 50 weeks in the cinemas. The story of Devar bhabi is based on Indo-Pak’s unjust social thoughts and norms. Insaaniyat is also considered as one of his best movies in which he played a role of a dedicated doctor.

From 1964 to 1968, Waheed Murad and Pervaiz Malik made blockbusters like Heera aur patharArmaanEhsaanDorahaand Jahan tum wahan hum. The successful combination of Waheed Murad, Pervaiz Malik, Masroor Anwar, Sohail Rana, Ahmed Rushdi and Zeba created a number of successful films. Waheed Murad brought Malik, Anwar and Rana under the umbrella of ‘Film Arts’. But in late 1960s, dissension grew between Waheed Murad and other three team members of ‘Film Art’. Pervaiz Malik was not happy with Waheed’s taking away the credit for all the success of movies and giving little recognition to others. So the Film Arts broke up and Pervaiz Malik started creating his own projects with new actors. A total of seven films, including two films, i.e., Usey dekha usey chaha andDushman released after a long gap of 6 years in 1974, were produced with the combination of Waheed and Pervaiz (but not under ‘Film Art’ Production).

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with Shabnam in Andaleeb (1969)

In 1969, Waheed produced, wrote and directed his own movie Ishaara but the movie flopped at box office. Andaleeb was released in 1969, which was directed by Fareed Ahmed. Other co-stars included Shabnam, Aliya, Talish and Mustafa Qureshi.Andaleeb proved to be one of the greatest films of the year. Moviegoers loved his acting esp. in the song Kuch log rooth karbhi… sung by Ahmed Rushdi in which Waheed is teasing Shabnam in his red sports car. Waheed Murad received Nigaraward in the best actor category for that film. Critics are unanimous that singer Ahmed Rushdi had a significant role in the success of Waheed Murad, and that Rushdi’s voice was tailor made for him.

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with Shabnam in Saheli (1978)

From 1970 to 1979, many of his films were superhit like Naseebapna apna and Anjuman in 1970; Neend hamare khuwab tumhareand Mastana mahi (Waheed’s first Punjabi film) in 1971; Baharophool barsao in 1972; Ishq mera naa (Punjabi film) and Shama in 1974; Jab jab phool khiley in 1975; Shabana in 1976; Saheli,Parakh and Khuda aur muhabbat in 1978; and Awaz and Bahanbhai in 1979. Mastana mahi was Waheed’s first Punjabi film, which was also produced by him and directed by Iftikhar Khan.Mastana mahi was purely a romantic musical film. Waheed received Nigar award for the best actor for Mastana mahi.

Waheed Murad, in his 30-year career, paired with several actresses like Zeba, Shamim Ara, Rani, Naghma, Aaliya, Sangeeta,Kaveeta, Aasia, Shabnam, Deeba, Babra Sharif, Rukhsana, Bahar and Neelo. He acted in a total of 124 films (2 films were released after his death) of which 38 were black and white and 86 were in colour. Besides this he also appeared in 6 films as a guest star including his ever first and shortest appearance on silver screen in 1959’s Saathi. He acted in 115 Urdu films, 8 Punjabi films and 1 Pushto film, and earned 32 prestigious film awards including ones for best producer and for best actor.

Film Art productions

Waheed Murad produced eleven films under his father’s established ‘Film Art’. He was the youngest film producer in the industry at that time. As producer, Waheed Murad was a successful producer. Most of his produced films were either Golden Jubilee or Silver Jubilee. During the 1960s and early 1970s, he produced films like Insaan badalta hai (1961) (his first film as producer), Armaan (1966), Ehsaan (1967), Naseeb apna apna (1970) and Mastana mahi (Punjabi film of 1971). However, after Mastana Mahi he produced no film except Hero which was produced in the 1980s and was released after his death.

As director, he had directed as well as produced Ishaara (1969) with co-star Deeba. But the film failed to achieve the viewers’ expectances.

Legacy

His contribution to art and films in Sub-Continent is unanimously considered as revolutionary by all the film critics.  His acting style is being taught in Indian and Pakistani film institutions.  He is considered as one of the pioneering Rock n’ Roll stars of Pakistan. Due to his romantic and alluring style of acting, he became famously known as the “Chocolaty Hero” and “Lady Killer”. His hair cut, dressing style and even his conversation style were very popular among the youth. One can say that he was the cultural icon of the Pakistani Film Industry. Once he went to Saddar area of Karachi in his white car. Realizing that it was his car, a group of 30 college girls covered the vehicle with lipstick kisses.

The rise and fall of Waheed is quite similar to that of Elvis Presley and analogies have been drawn between these two icons. According to a film critic, Waheed Murad was like Elvis Presley who enjoyed early success, the status of being the mostmesmerising personality of his country. He earned great fame and then faced a sudden fall and had an untimely death. Despite the Islamisation of Pakistani society, downfall of Pakistani film industry, destruction of major cinemas of Karachi and Lahore, and dominancy of Bollywood films, his films are still shown on film festivals, cinemas and TV and are well received.

Rajesh Khanna, an Indian actor, said in his interview with Shama Delhi magazine:

“After seeing a lot of movies of Waheed Murad, I admit he was a really great actor and I admire his matchless acting performance.”

Ilyas Rashidi, the founder of Nigar Awards, wrote in his magazine:

“Waheed Murad was a born hero.”

Ghulam Mohiuddin, a Pakistani film actor, said:

“Waheed Murad was not an individual but he was an era in his own right which ended when he was sidelined by those who took over the industry in the early 1980s, … he was a great artiste, who recreated the image of a romantic hero. His acting was natural; he had a great deal of musical sense and was matchless when it came to picturising a song.”

Lehri, a Pakistani film comedian, said:

“He was a great companion, an unforgettable friend and a humble man so rich in terms of money and fortunes.”

Sangeeta, a Pakistani film director and actress, said:

“For me, it was a great time when I had been working with him.”

In the recent Hollywood film Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London, actress Leilah Isaac’s character Sabeen remembers Waheed Murad. Frankie Muniz, reprising his role as Agent Cody Banks, discloses to his cosmopolitan band members that he is a secret agent. To this, a Nigerian boy claims to be Spider-Man while another girl calls herself Lara Croft. As the actors associate themselves with their favourite comic book characters, Sabeen says: “And I’m Waheed Murad.” This entices all to ask “what?” to which she replies, “Famous Indian actor!”

Waheed Murad was a superb actor and probably one of the best whoever graced Lollywood. His failure in movies was not owing to lack of talent. In fact, he was the most stylish and original actor in Pakistan. He improved the image of industry by shining through their mediocre scripts; they repaid him by contributing to his downfall. Bad luck, his own strong personality and rendezvous with several actresses also ruined him. He, however, still lives on in the hearts of millions of fans. As his daughter Aaliya said:

“If Dad knew that he had such a following, he would not have died.”

Source: Waheed Murad – the biography

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