Kamal Amrohi

17 Jan 1918
11 Feb 1993
Film Industry
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Syed Amir Haider Kamal Naqvi, popularly known as Kamal Amrohi (17 January 1918 – 11 February 1993) was an Indian film director and screenwriter. He was a Shi’a Muslim and an Urdu and Hindi poet.He is famous for his Hindi films such as Mahal (1949), Pakeezah (1972) and Razia Sultan (1983). He established Kamal Pictures (Mahal Films) in 1953 and Kamalistan Studio in Bombay in 1958

Kamal Amrohi was born in Amroha, Uttar Pradesh in India and later took on the name Kamal Amrohi (or Amrohvi)

In 1938, he left Amroha to study in Lahore, now part of Pakistan, where singer K. L. Saigal discovered him and took him to Mumbai (Bombay) to work for Sohrab Modi’s Minerva Movietoon film company, where he started his career working on films like Jailor (1938), Pukar (1939), Bharosa (1940), A.R.Kardar’s film (Shahjehan 1946). He made his debut as a director in 1949, with Mahal, starring Madhubala and Ashok Kumar, which was a musical hit, with songs by Lata Mangeshkar and Rajkumari Dubey.

He directed only four films; of these were Mahal (1949) for Bombay Talkies, Daera 1953 with Meena Kumari and Nasir Khan, Pakeezah, which was conceived in 1958 but was not brought to the screen until 1972. He also wrote the screenplay, lyrics and produced the latter. This was followed by Razia Sultan (1983), his last film. Though, he started a film, Majnoon with Rajesh Khanna and Rakhee as leads, however the film got shelved.

He wrote scripts for the movies made by Sohrab Modi, Abdul Rashid Kardar and K. Asif.He was one of the four dialogue writers for the latter’s famous 1960 movie, Mughal-e-Azam, for which he won the Filmfare Award.

As a director, he developed a style that combined a stylised direction with minimalist performances. This style was different from the one with expressive acting that was common in Indian cinema of his period. Both Mahal and Pakeezah express Amrohi’s personal vision of the world, and it can be said that they are not so much movies as symphonic poems on celluloid.

In 1958, he started Kamaal Studios for his banner Mahal Films, though it closed down after three years and later changed hands to become Natraj Studios.

It was mentioned that the last movie he wanted to make was called Aakhri Mughal. He had written a substantial portion of the script. But it went into oblivion after his death. Noted film maker J P Dutta was to revive the film in the late 1990s which was supposed to have been Abhishekh Bachchan’s debut movie. But later Dutta scrapped the project. He was again planning to revive the film in 2007 after the debacle of his costume drama Umrao Jaan (2006) remake from the cult film from the 80s.

Kamal Amrohi Studios (Kamalistan Studios) was established in 1958, spread over 15 acre, it is situated in Jogeshwari East, off Jogeshwari – Vikhroli Link Road in Mumbai. It continues to run, managed by Amrohi’s son, Tajdar Amrohi; despite 2010 news reports of it being sold,and continued litigation thereafter. Over the years, it has been venues of films like Razia Sultan (1983) Kamal Amrohi’s last film as a director, Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) and Kaalia (1981), Khalnayak (1993), Koyla (1997), and recently the first schedule of film, Dabangg 2 was shot there in 2012, apart from the television shows are also shot at the complex

Amrohi married three times: His first wife was Bano (who was a maid to Nargis’s mother, Jaddan Bai); she died of asthma. His second wife was Mehmoodie. He met Meena Kumari on a film set when she was 19 and he was 34. They fell in love and married in 1952. The marriage ended in 1964. They remarried, but Meena Kumari had become an alcoholic by then. She died on 31 March 1972, and Amrohi died on 11 February 1993 in Mumbai,ten years after making his last film, Razia Sultan (1983). He was buried next to Meena Kumari in an Iranian graveyard.

Kamal Amrohi had three children with Mehmoodie: two sons, Shandaar and Taajdaar, both of whom worked with him in Razia Sultan (1983),and a daughter, Rukhsar Amrohi.Shandaar died on 21 August 2011 in Goa. He was survived by his wives, Shahida Amrohi & Khursheed Naqvi Amrohi (his childhood sweetheart). He was laid to rest in Mumbai the following day. Amrohi’s grandsons Mashhoor Amrohi and Bilal Amrohi are also actors.

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