The 30th death anniversary of legendry film actor and director Nazir Ahmed Khan went unnoticed on Monday. He was widely known as Bao Jee in the film industry.
Bao Jee, one of the pioneers of film industry of Sub-Continent, served the industries of both sides of the borders about 55 years. He had done more than 200 films.
It was back in 1929, when a young Bao Jee left Lahore to go to Calcutta in pursuance of his passion and career in film industry. He was determined to make a mark on the silver screen of the Sub-Continent. Nazir Ahmed Khan was a versatile and renowned Pakistani/Indian film actor, director and producer. He was the first successful film hero of Pre-Partition India and later in Pakistan.
He started his film career in Calcutta and appeared in a role in A R Kardar's film 'Sarfarosh' aka 'Brave Heart' in 1929. Kardar later made 'Heer' in which Nazir played the role of the Qazi. Both these films are from the silent era. He also did a secondary role in Kardar's 'Mysterious Bandit'. Nazir's artistic elegance and excellent command over acting won him applaud all across the industry and resulted in him going to Bombay.
During this period he played important leading roles in 'Rajputana Ka Sher', 'Chandaal Chaukri', 'Badmaash Ka Baita' and 'Pahari Sawar'. In 1934, he went back to Calcutta on the request of his old friend Kardar to act in important roles in his productions of 'Chandra Gupta', 'Sultana', 'Milaap', 'Mandar', 'Night Bird' and 'Aab-e-Hayat'. He also worked as the lead in Ezra Mir's 'Badroohi' and 'Zareena'.
In 1939, both Nazir and Kardar moved to Bombay and under Kardar's banner he performed his most well remembered and renowned character role in 'Baghbaan', which besides creating box office records also established Nazir's name as one of the most well refined sensitive and matured actor of his era.
Nazir was the only hero in history to have been cast opposite 35 actresses most of whom were the reigning queens of their time. Nazir started producing and directing films under the banner of Hind Pictures and established a Studio in Bombay under the same name, although this did not stop him from accepting assignments from other producers.
Only a few artistes have contributed more to the development of cinema in the sub-continent than Nazir. He was a talented actor, a vibrant director and an astute producer. Nazir's studio and the offices of Hindi Pictures were burnt down during the partition riots as Nazir had daringly hoisted the flag of the then Muslim League there. He stood there patiently, smoking cigarettes, looking at burning of the birthplace of such great films, in disgust. Once the ashes started cooling he left never to return to Bombay ever again. In 1947, Nazir migrated to Pakistan.
He left everything he had behind in Bombay and shifted to Lahore. He started from scratch and in the process became one of the pioneers of the Pakistan film industry. He produced and directed 'Saachai', as his first film in the newly born Pakistan. It was followed by the first Silver Jubilee film of Pakistani Cinema, 'Pheray'.
He disassociated himself with the Pakistani Cinema, when he foresaw the decline in the industry. He could not reconcile himself with the qualitatively declining trends in the industry which was later to be dominated by financiers whose aim was glamour and easy profits. He left the world for his eternal ethereal abode in August 1983.
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