Recently, Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor’s ancestral homes in Peshawar gained attention as the KPK provincial government plans to convert them into heritage sites. Iconic Bollywood stars were born in what’s now Pakistan and later moved to India to pursue their careers.
Similarly, stars born in India chose to relocate to newly independent Pakistan, contributing to the industry’s growth during its golden era. It’s challenging to compare both film industries’ legacies, but many artists from across the border brought valuable skills and experience to help develop Lollywood. Here’s a brief list of notable directors, actors, and film crew born in India, both before and after Partition.
Father-Son Director Duo from India’s Cinematic Legacy in Pakistan
Similarly, another father-son team of directors, Rafiq Rizvi and Saeed Rizvi, were born in Delhi and Bombay respectively. The Senior Rizvi, like Yousuf, was already an accomplished director when he migrated to Pakistan in 1955. He remade his signature Indian film Jaagruti as Bedaari in Pakistan, to considerable commercial success. On the other hand, his son Saeed Rizvi, made Shaani, which was the Subcontinent’s first sci-fi film.
Notably, director Shaukat Hussain Rizvi, born in Azamgargh, U.P., owned the prominent Shahnoor Film Studios in Lahore, transforming the Pancholi studios’ burnt grounds. Similarly, Hassan Tariq, born in Amritsar, Punjab in 1927, became a successful director, known for hits like “Neend” (1959) and “Ek Gunah Aur Sahi” (1975).
Cinematography is integral to filmmaking, and Pakistan was fortunate to have talents like Raza Mir, Masood ur Rehman, and A. R. Nasir (all born in India) shaping the industry alongside directors and producers.
The dashing duo of Muhammad Ali and Zeba were both from undivided India. Whereas Ali hailed from Rampur, Zeba’s birthplace was Ambala in Haryana. Considered one of the greatest actors from Pakistan, Ali even had a remarkable following in India. He regarded actors Dilip Kumar, Manoj Kumar and Sunil Dutt (all of whom were born in what is now Pakistan) as his close friends. On the other hand, Zeba is one of the most beautiful actresses to have graced the screen in Pakistan.
Indian-Origin Actors and Filmmakers in Pakistan’s Film Industry
Yousuf Khan, known for masculine Punjabi movies, was born in Ferozpur, Punjab. He gained fame in Riaz Shahid’s films but later worked in regional movies. Similarly, actors Habib and Syed Kamal, Yousuf’s contemporaries, were born in Patiala and Meerut, over a decade before partition. Kamal, who resembled Raj Kapoor, also excelled as a director and producer, creating films like “Shehnai” (1968).
Prominent Indian-Born Character Actors in Pakistan’s Film Industry
Some Indian-born actors achieved renown for character acting. Comedic actors like Safeerullah Lehri, born in Kanpur, continued to entertain, as did the evergreen Muzaffar Nirala, born in Delhi. In the villain category, Agha Talish, born in Hoshiarpur Ludhiana two decades before Partition, played roles as stern fathers, wandering men, ruthless landlords, and scheming generals. He earned more audience dislike than any other ‘villain’. Equally menacing on screen was film and TV actor Munawar Saeed, born in Amroha.
If history were compiled about the singers of the 60s and 70s, names like Ahmed Rushdi, Mehdi Hasan, Akhlaq Ahmed, and Naseem Begum would stand out. Born in pre-Independence India, they rose to fame in Pakistani cinema through playback singing and iconic film scores, guided by music directors like A. Hameed, Ahmed Rahi, and Rashid Attre, all born in Amritsar.
Tasleem Fazli, known for producing lyrics quickly, was born in Delhi in 1947. Himayat Ali Shair, a legendary songwriter and producer, hailed from Hyderabad Deccan. Suroor Barankvi, another legendary figure, was born in Barabanki seventeen years before Partition. Music director Sohail Rana, born in Agra, had a remarkable career scoring for films like Armaan, Ehsaan, and Baazi.
These Indian-born Pakistani artists contributed significantly to the blossoming of the Pakistani film industry during its golden era, comparable to Bollywood stars who migrated from what is now Pakistan. Their creativity and hard work enriched Pakistani cinema with iconic pieces.