Kemal (1937-2009)

Film hero, producer, Director

He was a film hero, producer and director..

Thursday May the 2nd, 1957 was an Eid-ul-Fittar Day in Pakistan. A comedy film Thandi Sarak by famous film director Shabab Keranvi was released and a new type film hero was introduced. The film was not successful but its hero Kemal became a top actor and the first ever comedy film hero in Pakistan.

He came to Pakistan and started his film career. He didn’t have to struggle a lot for seeking role in films. Banjaran in 1962 was his first big film, followed by Touba and Ashiyana in 1964, Aisa bhi hota hay and Sartaaj in 1965, Jokar and Kon Kisi Ka in 1966, Shab Bakhair and Suhagan in 1967, Sharik-e-Hayyat and Behan Bahi in 1968, Nei Laila Neya Majnu in 1969, Honney Moon, Love in Europe and Road to Sawat in 1970, Farz and Insan aur Gadha in 1973, Jatt Kurrian Tun Darda in 1976, Ajj Dian Kurrian in 1977, Yehan Say Wahan Tak in 1979 and Hamdono in 1980.

Kemal appeared in less than 100 films and the most successful film as hero was Nei Laila neya Majnu in 1969. It was a platinum jubilee film. He was co-hero in his only diamond jubilee film Hamdono in 1980. He was seen consistently on silver screen from 1959-73 and his peak period was from 1964-70. He tried to become Punjabi film hero in the 70’s but didn’t succeed.

Kemal as producer & director:

  • Syed Kemal produced and directed 13 films. His first film as producer, writer and actor was Jokar in 1966, Iqbal Yousuf was director.
  • In his second film Shehnai in 1968 he was director as well.
  • His third film Honny Moon in 1970 was made with six actors only.
  • He was not director in his fourth and fifth films Roop Behrup in 1971 and Akhri Hamla in 1972, respectively.
  • His sixth film Insan aur Gadha was based on an unique story but he was criticized for his political motivated film, because he offended many people when he symbolized Pakistani people, who listen to late Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto as some donkeys. Ironically, it was his only hit Urdu film as producer and director.
  • After a three years gap he produced, directed, wrote and acted in three Punjabi filmsJatt Kurrian Tun Darda in 1976, Ajj Dian Kurrian in 1977 and Kall de Munday in 1978. The first two of them were successful on box office but he was not succeeded as Punjabi film hero.
  • His tenth film Yehan Say Waha Tak was shot in USA, Canada and UK. It was his first film with Waheed Murad.
  • After five years rest he was active again and produced, directed, wrote and acted in three films Jatt Kamala Geya Dubai in 1984, Mashraq-o-Maghrab in 1985 and Siasat 1986. All three films were dead flop. His last film was based on his own political experience of his participating in Non-Party based Elections in 1985 held by military dictator General Zia.

Some facts about Kemal

  • Kemal’s film Ik Dil Do Deevaney in 1964 was the first full length color film in West Pakistan. (The first color film was Sangam in 1964 from East Pakistan – now Bangladesh).
  • He made film Honney Moon with six actors only. It was shot in Bangkok, Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong.
  • Kemal was the first ever film producer/director/writer who made a film seriel in Pakistan. Three Punjabi films Jatt Kurrian Tun Darda (1976), Ajj Dian Kurrian (1977) and Kall de Mundey (1978) were based on a story in three episodes.
  • Kemal could be the only hero who had three heroines in a film – Neelo, Nisho and Najma were his heroine in Jatt Kurrian Tun Darda and in Ajj Dian Kurrian.
  • There were seven pairs in film Ajj Dian Kurrian, which could be a record for any Pakistani film. Kemal had his “wives” Neelo, Nisho and Najma and also a girl friendIshrat Chodhary. His six “daughters” Saiqa, Khanum, Nimmi, Farzana, Navin Tajikand Dimpel Kampadia were paired with Badar Munir, Ali Ejaz, Nazim, Aurangzeb,Jamshed Ansari and Mansoor (the brohter of Santosh and Darpan).
  • Kemal was main hero with Shabnam and Nadeem was co-hero in film Jaley Na Kyun Parwana in 1970.
  • Kemal’s film Yehan Say Wahan Tak was the first and only film which was shot in Disneyland, USA.
  • Kemal was host in Kemal Show which was a popular talk show on Pakistan Television in the early 70’s. Express Challenge was another popular acting show in 65 episodes by Kemal.
  • Hartaan hai Deepak was a famous musical radio programme and Kemal was the presenter.
  • Kemal is the only actor who wrote his own biography as Dastan-e-Kemal (The Story of Kemal – in Urdu).
  • Kemal got National Award as best actor. He also received 4 Graduate Awards as best actor/director, 4 Musawur Awards as best producer/actor, 3 Nigar awards as best film director and a life time achievement award from Nigar Awards.
  • Kemal has been the member of National Film Sensor Board, Karachi office in many years.
  • Kemal was the founder of Karachi Film Guild and Pakistan Film and TV academy.
  • He was ex-General Secretary of Film Artists Association.

Kemal’s full name was Syed Kemal and he was born in Merath, India on April 27, 1937. According to his biography Dastan-e-Kemal his father was from Sardhana and grandfather was from Afghanistan who migrated to India in 1855 and had huge property and land there.

Kemal was educated in Faiz-e Aam School in Merath and graduated from Merath College. The college was affiliated with Aagra University and he got the degree of Bachelors of Arts from Aagra University. He went to Bombay and was introduced to Sohrab Modiand Mehboob. They took his screen tests and offered roles in famous film Mother India. He worked in 4 films there and met Raj Kapoor who offered him a leading role in film Mitti Mai Soona but that film wasn’t made. He was again offered to perform in Jagtay Raho. In 1956, discrimination started emerging against Gujratis & Marethas and riots & killings had begun all over Bombay so he left for Pakistan.

Syed Kemal died on October 1, 2009 at Karachi in the age of 72 years.

Real name Syed Kemal
Active career
Date of Birth 27-04-1937
Born at Merath, India
Language Urdu
Profession Film making
Family Ghalib Kemal (son)

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