Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Lahore's Contribution to Bollywood - Rabiah Khwaja Gohar

I have been reading several arguments from our dear Indian friends about how crappy Lollywood has become, so I decided to look at this situation from a...different perspective.

What has the great city of Lahore contributed to the nation of India?

Ok first of all, India is not in an economical position to make multi-billion rupee films that it presently produces, and we all know for a fact that the films produced now are because of the BIG money being filtered in by the underworld. So if "Bollywood" made films according to THEIR budget, the films wouldn't necessarily be worth watching right? they are now? hmmm? Its all there, the big names, the big costumes, the big tears, the big (cheesy) dialogues...the "dishown dishwon fight scenes" but whats missing..??

Before we start hating on "Lollywood" or Lahore, lets remember Bollywood has not been able to bring quality cinema in ages ..with a few exceptions....talent is essentially non-existent, the "hit" and 'super-hit" films are nothing but 'time-pass' or trunk shows for big designers like Ritu Kumar, Manish Malhotra etc... very strategically targeting desi shopaholic housewives. (apologies for the stereotype).
One might argue that Lahore played no role in the creation of "Bollywood", lets put that myth aside..shall we....and take a minute to trace the birth of "talent" through the great city of Lahore.

First and foremost, India's Taran-e-Hindi "Saray Jahan Say Acha, Hindustan Hamara" Written by Dr.Allama Iqbal from Lahore. Yes not many Indians know much about the author hence their disability to give recognition to originality.

I should stop here and rest my case, but I feel compelled to continue.

An interesting fact I recently read:
Teji Kaur Bachchan, the mother of Amitabh Bachchan ,was a prominent lecturer in Lahore University.

::::: And now before you forget what Lahore gave "Bollywood" :::::

Prithvi Theatres was established in Lahore by Prithvi Raj Kapoor a Pathan from Peshawar, who was a stage actor in Lahore at the time. (Pop Culture India by Asha Kasbekar)

Lahore's first Film studio, United Players, was responsible for launching the career of the first woman film-maker of India (Fatima Begum) who made Bulbul-e-Paristan in 1926. (Cinema Studies by Susan Hayward)

The renowned filmmaker of India, Ramanand Sagar, from Lahore, was the head of the Bollywood production company Sagar Arts Corp, wrote, directed, and produced motion pictures, and television programs. His most famous works include the Ramayan (1987) a popular 78-part TV epic. He studied at University of Punjab, Lahore. (Britannica)

The first silent film from Lahore was The Daughter of Today, released in 1924 directed by A. K. Kardar a Lahori, who went on to become one of the most famous film directors of India during the 1930's, 40's and 50's.
His works include Sharda, Dulari, Dillagi, Shahjahan, and Jadoo, all famous for Naushad Ali’s music. (History of Pakistani Cinema by Mushtaq Gazdar)
First talkie produced from Lahore was Heer Ranjha in 1932.
The actress who played the lead in Anarkali, Shahjahan, Shireen Farhan and Daasi was Ragni, also from Lahore.
Om Prakash was given his break by Dalsukh Pancholi (Founder of Pancholi Studios in Lahore) in the Film Daasi.

Lahore gave us legends like Muhammad Rafi, Om Parkash, Dev Ananad saab, Pran saab and Balraj Sahani (one of the most talented actors in "bollywood") and many many more, who started their career in Lahore. Chaitan Anand (Dev's brother) was a famous film director in Lahore. Mohd Rafi was introduced to radio Lahore by music composer Feroz Nizami (Lahori) and made his debut as a playback singer in the Punjabi film Gul Baloch.

Dalsukh Pancholi, a film tycoon from Lahore (born in Karachi) and the founder of Pancholi Studios of Lahore, studied scriptwriting and cinematography from New York, and played an important part in the careers of stars such as Noor Jehan, Ramola, Om Prakash, music composers Ghulam Haider and O.P. Nayyar. His first film was Gul-e-Bakawli (1938) starring Noor Jehan. Ghulam Haider's "shaala jawaania" one of my personal favorites of Madam, was an instant rage.
His film Khazanchi was one of the longest running movies of its time.
Master Ghulam Haider a phenomenal music director from Lahore, was the man who gave Lata Mangeshkar the break of her career in the movie Majboor (1948)

Pran established his career in Lahore as a villan in punjabi films.

Mohd Rafi's debut also happened to occur in Lahore, at the hands of music director Shayaam Sunder and Pancholi in the film Gul Baloch.

Roshan Ara Begum from Lahore was acclaimed the best interpreter of Kirana Gharana Sytle of Khayal singing in the subcontinent. Composer O.P Nayyar, Ustad Fateh Ali, BarRay Ghulam Ali (the only film he ever sang for was for Mughal-e-Azam) free of charge... only as a favor to Naushad, all are from Lahore.
According to BBC Urdu the most expensive film of India was made in Lahore in 1934. Its cost was 18 Lakh Rupees (at that time). Its name was ‘ShireeN Farhaad’
In the film Shireen farhad (the charactar of Farhad was played by Jayant a Muslim Pathan, father of Amjad Khan whose name is synonymous with the legendary villan of Bollywood Gabbar Singh)
Khurshid Begum and Shamshad Begum--the playback singer made her debut from Peshawar Radio in Lahore. (Not the classical singer Shamshad begum, Saira Banu's grandmother)

Father of the Chopras, B. R. Chopra was born in Lahore. He studied journalism, directed/produced plays, and worked as a film critic in Lahore. Yash Chopra, B. R’s younger brother was born in Lahore as well, later he joined his brother in Bombay to start their own production house.
B.R. Chopra was working on his first film Chandni Chowk when the partition riots began.

Academy Award winner lyricist Gulzar was born in Jehlum, Punjab.

Academy Award winner Shekhar Kapur of Bandit Queen and Elizabeth is too from Lahore. (He is the nephew of Dev Anand)

Grandpa Roshan (Roshan Lal) from Gujranwala, Lahore, was given a chance as an assistant by another Lahori musician, Khwaja Khurshid Anwar (who was in Bombay at the time).
Rudyard Kipling was also a Lahori.

Actress Meena Shorey (Khurshid) the "Lara Lapa" girl one of the earliest bombshells of Bollywood was from Lahore (Raiwind).
Her husband was Roop K. Shorey, a Quetta-born actor/director, and the owner of Kamla Movietone in Lahore. He later moved to India after the partition. His film Mangti ran over 75 weeks in Lahore in the forties, making it his most profitable film.

Actresses Kamni Kaushal, kuldeep kaur,and Anupam Kher are from Lahore
Suraiya (singer and actress) hails from Sialkot.

K. L. Saigal (singer) acquired fame in Lahore then later moved to Calcutta. His last film was in 1947, music composed by Khwaja Khurshid Anwar from Lahore.

Famous Musicians from Lahore who migrated later.
Pundit Amarnath, Shayum Sunder, Gobind Ram, Lachi Ram, Dhanni Ram were more than compensated by the arrival of Ustad Sardar Khan, Ustad Akhter Hussain Khan, Bundoo Khan, Nazakat Ali, Salamat Ali, Amanat Ali Fateh Ali, Bhai Lal and Ghulam Hassan Shaggan. There were musicians who were already in Lahore like Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Inayat Bai Dheerowali, Shamshad Begum, Sohni, Alamgir Khan, Sadiq Ai Mando.

Khayyam the music composer of Umrao-Jaan fame started his career in Lahore.

Many pre-partition films were produced in Lahore. Lahore was considered the 'launchpad' for new actors, directors and producers.

Pre-partition, Lahore happened to be the Head Quarters of India's Northern Circuit in the mid-forties.
There were three major cinemas in the city that primarily showed punjabi films. (Aijaz Gul)
**Partition came with gains and losses for both countries.**
Noorjehan and her director-editor husband Shaukat Rizvi, actor-director Nazir and her actress wife Swaran Lata, director Subtain Rizvi, composers Master Ghulam Haider, Khwaja Khursheed Anwar, and producer-director W.Z.Ahmad all moved during partition.
Sahir Ludhianvi (Abdul Hayee) started his career in Lahore as a lyricist/poet, who later went on to become one of he biggest lyricist in Bollywood.

Raj Kumar of Mother India fame was born in Baluchistan, and who can forget the tragedy king Dilip Kumar (Yousuf Khan) from Peshawar, its not Lahore but yes its this side of the border.
Pundit Nehru, after watching the film Intezar(1956) lifted the ban in India on Pakistani films, and first time after the partition, a Pakistani film was shown in Indian theaters. The cinema walls in Delhi read this:
"Woh geet jo aaj tak aap ne nahin sunay, Woh naghme jo Noor Jehan ne aaj tak nahin gaey".
The love for music in the subcontinent lead Noor Jehan to jump start the careers of many music directors and filmmakers as she took over through her singing and acting talents. After listening to her voice one can forget the boundaries drawn by man. She was and is a wonder that shall remain with us forever.

Recently Lahore has given India Noor Jehan, Nusrat Fateh Ali, Sabri Brothers, Adnan Sami Khan, Reshma, Mehdi Hassan, Abida Parveen, Tassawar Khanum, Atif Aslam Ghulam Ali, Rahat Fateh, Shafqat Amanat Ali---- for their talent truly saturates Bollywood.

Numerous Bollywood films and Indian music directors have taken credit for their work.
Yet they say Lahore has given them nothing? hmm?

These are just a few examples of how Lahore has contributed to the success of "Bollywood"

I find it sad how a line drawn on the map can make people so ungrateful and hostile when it comes to giving credit to such great artists and the great city that produced them.

(The author is the grand daughter of Kh. Khursheed Anwar and currently resides in USA)


  1. A well researched and documented article.

  2. Well what to say of you Mrs Rabiah, you are so interested in digging out historical facts that you have completely gone out of sync with todays reality or at least you are pretending to.. you are yet another example of a typical paki getting offensive to defend his/her false ego but my friend u r again forgetting the fact that this is not gonna do any good to ur country. for years pakistanis have been defending themselves( their incompetency) by just comparing themselves with india's weaknesses (most of them are hypothetical/biased comparisons btw), but they forget the fact that india is making and has made tremendous progress all these years.
    so the fact is that though pakis have been obsessed with everything indian since partition they have managed to console themselves by highlighting India's weaknesses but things have changed dramatically over the last decade or so and now when they see the present reality, they are caught dumbstruck and at the same time also filled with deep sorrow, frustration and a sense of realization of the fact that they have making fool of themselves only over all these years by focusing on india's weaknesses rather then striving hard to eliminate their own.. it is precisely this frustration which pakistanis like Mrs Rabiah take out in the form of such childish articles..But believe me we indians just love this attitude of pakis and never get offended as we know what the reality is and are totally confident abt it as we have the whole world to praise us and as you also know that we certainly don need your credit for better stop comparing yourselves to us( don repeat the same mistake) as the reality dosen't lie and start working hard to build ur nation's economy and then only will you be able to command the respect from india and from the world that u think u deserve.

  3. contd....
    *BTW i read only certain part of ur article as it was too long and found some major irregularities.
    1.) "Ok first of all, India is not in an economical position to make multi-billion rupee films that it presently produces" My dear, first of all till there is not even a single movie churned out by bollywood which has multi billion dollar budget though they might come in the future with indian economy rapidly growing..also i don what does it have to do with the economy of india..i just cant help but laugh at this as even a child knows that indian gov doesn't produce any movies rather it earns millions of dollars in revenue from the tax generated as unlike pakistan entertainment is recognised as a full fledged industry in india..i hope i have cleared ur doubt// 2.)"we all know for a fact that the films produced now are because of the BIG money being filtered in by the underworld. " i hope u read newspapers otherwise u wudn't be making such argument...ok so let me remind u of this recent multi billion dollar deal between india's Reliance entertainment and dreamworks of Stephen spielberg fame where the former will be producing the later's upcoming this is clear cut indication of the money power we have with hollywood kind of corpoarate structure which has almost taken over in bollywood with the opening up of multiplexes and so gone r those days when there was underworld financing..i wudn't go into the technicalities further as i think that i have made my point clear.. 3.) " So if "Bollywood" made films according to THEIR budget, the films wouldn't necessarily be worth watching right?" cud u please explain me what does "THEIR" signify? since acc to me its an absurd statement by all means and more so after what ever i have explained above..just HILARIOUS..nywyz if u carefully see this statement of yours you have already acknowledged that indian films are worth watching in the present context so yet again a reflection of "THE TYPICAL PAKI HYPOCRISY" 4.) Bollywood has not been able to bring quality cinema in ages ..with a few exceptions...."talent is essentially non-existent" The last line in so hilarious that i don even feel like commenting upon it more so when pakis better know the reality though they don reveal it publicly due to the so called " false ego" they have. and the list goes on of irregularities as there are many arguments that r more fictitious than real, born out of the myriad and unique paki fantasy. I JUST WANT TO SAY ONE THING LASTLY.. THAT THE FACT THAT YOU ARE TAKING HUGE PRIDE IN LAHORE JUST HAVING A HISTORICAL CONNECTION TO INDIAN FILM INDUSTRY OR PRESENT DAY BOLLYWOOD SPEAKS VOLUMES OF THE TALENT AND THE HARDWORK OF THE NUMEROUS PEOPLE WHICH HAVE WORKED DAY AND NIGHT TO MAKE IT WHAT IT IS TODAY.. BUT YOU WONT UNDERSTAND AS THEY RIGHTLY SAY " OWNER'S PRIDE IS NEIGHBORS ENVY".. THIS IS THE FIRST AND THE LAST TIME I AM COMMENTING ON ANY PAKISTANI WEBSITE.

  4. Mr. Mukul,
    I am saddened that you were unable to read the article, yet felt compelled to write about it. I tried understand what you had written, which was clearly not easy. The fact that you admitted to not reading the article is enough for one to conclude that you had nothing to say about the piece itself, let alone acknowledging any of the material or understanding the point being made."The article is about "lahore's contribution to Bollywood", and the inability of many many Indians to recognize them.
    (if you had read the article, you would have been able to find the very latest of artists whose songs you have probably hummed in the last few days). I promise!

    I fail to understand why you keep thinking its a comparison?? or a Pakistan vs. India article. No one is obsessed with everything Indian (according to you). And I truly apologize if our differences in opinion concerning real talent has offended you. (and yes we are certainly not talking about grown men trying to cry and cling to sarees sort of talent, but the Bimal Roy, V. Shantaram, Satayjit Ray kind).
    Since your response was anything but a rebuttal, it was more of a me-no-likie-paki-rant, from the looks of it, which explains the lack of subject matter in your response.

    By the way, bollywood's links to the underworld are definitely not old news, but very current. And the fact that films produced even under major banners are thoroughly plagiarized is very discouraging to any and all investors.
    I am providing you the links, please do read the news at your own convenience. The comment was concerning major financing of Bollywood films, not Hollywood films.

    Thank you for your input.

    Underworld's infiltration into Bollywood, vice versa.

    Indian banks generally don't finance films (with the exception to producers with good track record) because film-making is not considered a legitimate business in India. The industry is primarily run on cash( for tax evasion), from the spot boy salaries to the actors' salaries, to costume designers and set-designers etc. To finance the multi-billion rupee cash run industry, producers run to prominent businesses and business men for help. Underworld plays a major role here. We all know about the Shilpa Shetty incident, where she asked the help of a powerful gangster to get her pending salary from a film producer or the Producer of Devdas who had to spend a year in jail because of his connections with the underworld.
    According to Dr. Rachel Dwyer author of several books on South Asian Cinema, unaccounted black money is very conveniently utilized in Bollywood, and for the actors' extra expenses that come with employing them. Its all show sha, really, how much talent is required to dance around Time Square or the Swiss Alps? "The rising cost of film-making and the unchecked flow of cash got the underworld interested in investing their money."

  5. About your Dreamworks reference:

    First of all, the investment deal (which is not final), according to Ambani, "it is strictly business." Ambani will be making money in Hollywood by investing, not the other way around, Spielberg's concerns were very concrete; casting Shahrukh Khan and Aishwarya is not a good investment move, the market for them in the US is not profitable.
    Spielberg will NOT be making Indian films, but Ambani and he will be focusing on financing Steven's films in Hollywood. (He has already expressed the concern that Bollywood actors do not do well in Hollywood.) During a Q&A session after the deal, Spielberg specifically said, he will only CONSIDER original scripts with potential for global audiences, hence Spielberg's expectations of making "crossover films" are quite vague.

    Read up

    Also, if you have not still read the real reason for Hollywood stepping into Bollywood, here it is.
    Hollywood wants to make Bollywood LEGALLY responsible for ripping off script after script, so in the efforts to reduce/stop the copycats, and protect their films that cost millions of dollars, Hollywood (represented by
    Spielberg) is stepping in so they can legitimately keep a check on the illegal activities in India that directly and indirectly affect American filmmakers.
    In the end Indians and Pakistanis with talent make name for themselves and get exposure by displaying real talent.
    (please read the article for more).

  6. Rabiah,
    Your article pretty much sheds light on the hard forgotten facts us Pakistanis and Indians are not aware of.
    A wonderful read and very enlightening. I wish more and more people would take interest in knowing their history, and not make a fuss over who is better than who. I am not surprised by this Mukul guy getting pissy over this article. Indians hate to have anything to do with Pakistan, and most probably when he read the facts that reminded him of how much pakistani artists (pre and post partition) have successfully infiltrated the border based on their talent he pulled an "ABHIJEET" on you. I am sure you and everyone else have seen the videos of him getting hysterical over Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Atif and other Pakistani artists claiming they are here to "steal jobs and roti from Indians" YES thats this famous Indian singer making a fool out of himself on National TV!!
    Mukul reminds me of Abhijeet on the show where Amanat was penalized for being Pakistani. His singing skills were way too advanced for him to be even on the show in the first place...despite protests and a sharp decline in the viewers the show backed its decision. Rabiah, Indians not only fail to recognize true talent, they copy everything Hollywood puts out in the market. Their complete lack of respect and acknowledgement for orginality makes them form a blind eye to everything that is real whether its in the past or present!

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Thanks Hamza!!
    I have very dear Indian friends who would not in a million years think like Mukul. Indians and Pakistanis not only share a common spoken language, entertainment, love for celebrities, music but also a very tumultuous past with the British, but that has not stopped us from appreciating the Beatles or Mr. Bean..
    Artists, regardless of their nationalities, need a generous loving audience. Hating on Lahore or Bombay has not really been healthy for our arts and culture on either side of the border.

  9. And the man who made the only epic master piece in bollywood, Mr. K. Asif hailed from Lahore. Despite, many efforts, boll directors have not been able to surpass his work.what a dearth of talent in india LOL

  10. I think it was A R Kardar not A K Kardar.

    R.K Sharma