Some years ago, a dear family friend, a die-hard fan and Faiz admirer, Zaheer Kidvai produced a DVD on Faiz called Aaj ke Naam, which truly is a collector’s item.It is this wonderful media work, which inspired me to try and cover an aspect of Faiz, which is relatively less discussed and even less written.
Despite Faiz’s full-time commitment to progressive writing, socialistic ideals and classical poetry, as well as his journalistic career, he somehow still found time to flirt with films in some way, because of his strong belief in the power of the cinema, which he felt could be used to send a strong message across to a wider audience. He played an integral role in two films during the early decades of Pakistan’s emerging film industry.
One of them was the award-winning Jago Hua Savera, the first Urdu film made in EP/Bangladesh, produced by Nauman Taseer and directed by A.J. Kardar. Released in May 1959, Faiz wrote the script, lyrics and dialogues of this film. It was the first ever Pakistani film submitted for Oscar nomination. It won the Golden Award at the Moscow International Film Festival and also screened at Cannes Film Festival. The second film Sukh ka Sapna,directed by the brilliant cameraman and director, Masood Parvez, was released in January, 1962. In Sukh ka Sapna, Madam Noor Jahan’s numbers, Shaam hui ghar aaja and Hum tere paas aaey sarey sitambhula ke were penned by Faiz. There were other numbers too, but they did not become as popular.
Later, due to Faiz’s ideological stance, he was unable to connect himself too closely with the film industry, as he was time and again banned in the media and found it hard to maintain the continuity with his film lyrics. However, film-makers continued to take his soul-stirring nazmsand ghazals for their films. His poetic lines have inspired the leading phrases of numerous memorable songs like Aaj kee raat saz-e-dil pur dard na cherr, which was sung by Noor Jahan for the Indian film, Jugnu.After partition, the famous Indian film, Mehel contained Faiz’s Donon jahan teri mohabbat main haar ke.
In Pakistan, when Khalil Qaiser and Riaz Shahid created the hit film, Shaheed,released in 1962, composer Rasheed Attre made some exceptional tunes for the famous nazms and ghazals of Faiz and Munir Niazi. A slightly changed version of Faiz’s masterpiece, Nisar main teri galiyon pe was sung by Munir Hussain. Munir Niazi’s Uss bewafa ka shehr hai, picturized on Masarrat Nazir was also a big hit.
In Riaz Shahid’s Farangi, Mehdi Hasan’s famous rendition of Gulon main rang bharey was picturized on Alauddin, while another poem, written on an American couple who were executed in 1953 for espionage Hum jo tareek rahon main marey gae sung by Mala, was also included and filmed on a blind Pathan girl, played by Shamim Ara.
Ae roshniyon ke shehr andab yahan koyi nahi koyi nahi ayega are other Pakistani film songs which come to my mind, where his poetic lines became the leading phrase of popular songs.
Apart from these, who can ever forget Noor Jahan’s classic rendition of Mujh se pehli si mohabbat mere mehboob na maang,which was included in Najam Naqvi’s Qaidi,released in June 1962. It was, again, fabulously composed by Rasheed Attre and picturized on Shamim Ara. Much later, Faiz’s poetry found its way into a film, which highlighted the conditions that led to the creation of Bangladesh. It was A.J. Kardar’s Qasam Uss Waqt Ki, the title song of which was penned by Josh Malihabadi and sung by Habib Wali Mohammad. Faiz’s free verse, Manzilein manzilein was composed beautifully by Sohail Rana and sung equally well by Mehdi Hasan. Also Faiz’s ghazal, Sab qatl hoke tere muqabil se aaey hain was sung by Farida Khanum for this film. But perhaps the most endearing number of the film was by Mujeeb Alam, who sang Iss dhoop kinarey shaam dhaley beautifully, which they still play on the radio sometimes.
Across the border too, Faiz’s poetry added spark to the films’ canvas. Kab Yaad Mein Tera Sath Nahin sung by composer Khayyam using his own voice and his wife Jagjit Kaur’s for Muzaffar Ali’s Anjuman is an absolute treat. Picturized on Shammi Kapoor and Rajshree Raat Yun Dil Mein Teri Khoyee Huwi Yaad Ayee, sung by Asha Bhosle, Mohammed Rafi for film Janwar is yet another colorful contribution to Bollywood.
I cannot possibly end without a mention about Faiz’s friendship with film composer Khwaja Khurshid Anwar. Faiz was a year older and their friendship developed during college days, remained close friends throughout their lives. In fact, in those days Khwaja Saheb used to write Urdu poetry so well that Faiz actually used to ask him to write love letters and ghazals on his behalf, when he was in love with a girl in Lyallpur. Khwaja Saheb, of course, produced some unforgettable films like Intezar, Koel, Jhoomar, Zehr-e-Ishq, Haveli, Chingari, Ghunghat, Heer-Ranjha etc.They truly used to enjoy each other’s company, but it was perhaps the sound of silence of each other’s presence, the cigarette smoke-filled room, overflowing ashtrays and dozens of cups of tea, that provided the mahaul for their collective creativity. Mere pia ko dhoond ke lao sakhi,which Faiz penned for Khwaja Saheb’s film Ghunghat, is considered to be a shining star of their creative partnership.
In his last days, Khwaja Saheb was very ill and had lost all hope of living. When Faiz went to see him in the hospital in Lahore, he tried to console his friend by saying that as he (Faiz) was a year senior, he would go first and will wait to receive his friend up there. However, God had other plans and Khwaja Sb left for his Creator on 30thOctober 1984. Not to be left behind for too long, Faiz promptly joined his dear friend exactly three weeks later on 20thNovember.
Sheikh se bay hiraas milte hein
Hum ne tauba abhi nahi ki hai