It was March 1966 when Pakistan got its first Platinum Jubilee film, Armaan. There is a scene in the film where actor and producer of the film, waheed Murad tells his friend Shahid (play by Nirala), to practice (played by Nirala),to practic ‘playback’ in the way Dilip Kumar and Santosh Kumar do.
This was the popularity of Dilip Kumar in pakistan even after the 1965 war and inspite of the fact that Indian films were not being scrneeded in local cinemas. Born as Yousaf Khan in Pashawar in 1922, then part of the undivided India, Dilip was adored by Pakistanis just the way Indians Loved Madam Noor Jahaan .
A constact search for a replacement was always there for both. Pakistan is wanted their own Dilip and the song, ‘Main Dilip Kumar Ban ke’ in East Pakistani film be gana was proof of that. It was the early sixties when waheed Murad was producing his debut venture, Insaan Badalta Hai. Being the son of a leading film distributor Nisar Murad, our beloved actor was well informed regarding the basic of filmmaking. Simultaneously, a retired ICS officer, Fazal Ahmed Karim Fazli was busy with his maiden venture Chiragh Jalta Raha.
Saeed Fazli, son of FAK Fazli recollects an incident:”Whaeed and I were close friends, being in the same post-graduate English Literture class at the University of Karachi. Waheed would often visit our place. Abba was struck by his good looks and it was in a meeting at the sets of Chiragh Jalta Raha in June 1961 that he told Nisar Murad: ‘Make this boy a hero’.” Murad did venture into acting but only after completing his studies, In 1964, he was busy with his first film as a protagonist in Heera and Pathar under the direction of Pervez Malik, who had himself just returned from the United States of America after completing studies. It was at Murad’s wedding in Setember 1964 where a 23-year old Nazir Baig Mughal caught attention of some when he sang a couple of songs. Desperate to make it big Baig preformed what he thought he knew best.
In 1965, Nisar Bazmi, the music composer of wat ki Pukar, brought Baig to Fazli’s residence in Karachi. A man with an eye for talent, Fazli sahab uttered the same sentence he said to another Nisar years earlier: ‘make this boy a hero,’ but no one paid attention. Baig then went to East Pakistan and was spotted by the legendary Firdausi Begum at Dhaka TV Station. From there he was introduced to musician Robin Ghosh which led him to Captain Ehtishan, the famous director who is considered the pioneer of Urdu films in the East Wing.
Ehtisham took control of Baig’s career and recorded the famous ‘Kahan Ho Tumko Dhoond Rahi Hain’ for his cinematic venture Chakori. Baig had been selected for a side role but when the original protagonist had a disagreement with Ethisham, Baig had to fill in for the lead role.It was around the same time Fazli sahab started working on his new film waqat ki Pukar with Tahir, a 25-year old lad who resembled the thespian . It is reported that Dilip Kumar once had a look at Tahir’s Picture and exclaimed, “bhaee, ue to hamara bhai wayi lag raha hai!”.Unfortunately for Tahir, his career was halted by the war of 1965 for several reasons. Firstly, the prduction of Waqat ki Pukar got delayed in the West Wing. Then, Saeed Fazli got entangled in Politics. Finally, all references of Inida were removed from the film. With the release date fast approaching, reshoot was possible. The Film bombed at the box office on its release on March 23, 1967. Tahir’s career failed to take-off.Chakori was released on the same day in East Pakistan.
Shabana was cast as a heroine with Baig, christened as ‘Nadeem’ in the film. A simple love story with a new cast failed to attract distributors in West Pakistan, but was a massive hit in the East. The extraordinary music by Robin Ghost went on to shatter all records. The movie, when released later in West Pakistan, became a blockbuster making Nadeem an overnight star.
Nadeem baig became so famous that he even posed a threat to Waheed Murad. The Nigar Award for the best actor also went to Nadeem that year, despite Murad giving films like Ehsan and Doraha. In 1968, Nadeem married Ehtisham’s daughter, becoming the son-in-law of his mentor. On the other hand, Tahir is now living a private life in Karachi, away from Showbiz. He failed to get more offers after waqt ki Pukar despite being advised by Muhammad Ali to sign more films. His next film Sangtarush was his own production . Started in 1972, it stalled due to financial constraints and Tahir had to change his career from that of an actor to a sculptor in order to make a living. The film was completed in 1988 but when it was sent to censors, it got banned.
Nadeem continued with his imitation of Dilip Kumar for some years. His films Nadaan and Zameen Asmaan were lifted from Dilip Kumar’s Gopi and Aan, but by then, the buding star had developed a style of his own . It was during the 1970-86 period that Nadeem joined hands with Pervez Malik, Nazrul Islam and Javed Fazil to give blockbusters with were copied across the border. Every Indian actor of those days, Sans Amitabh Bachhpan, has worked in a nadeem Baig inspired film.
The veteran actor has now completed 50 years in the film industry in March 2017, but it was in May 1967, when people of this side of Pakistan finally got their own Dilip Kumar. Tahir who was provided with a ‘full chance’ to become Dilip’s Clone, was deceived by fate. while Nazir baig, someone who wanted to pursue a music career, first became the come and then emerged as the country’s greatest star.