Pakistan entered the 1960s with a lot of promise – the recently independent state had a flourishing economy and was making a name for itself in different fields including Sports, Economy, and Entertainment.
It was in the Cinema industry that a young man entered and took it over with his dedication, determination, and style. His name was Waheed Murad and he would have been 80 had he been alive today.
What made Waheed Murad different from the other heroes of the era was the fact that he was well-educated, watched English films and knew what was happening around the world. He tried to put his observations skills to good use first as a producer and later as a writer, producer, actor, and director.
His father Nisar Murad was a known film distributor in those days and Waheed turned producer with Insaan Badalta Hai in 1961.
Later, he produced Jab Se Dekha Hai Tumhein with Darpan and Zeba as the lead pair, which had music from Sohail Rana, a newcomer introduced to films by Waheed.
The film did well but the leading lady advised Waheed to cast himself as the hero next time since he had the potential (and since Darpan usually arrived late on the sets). Waheed acted in a couple of films in supporting roles before turning lead with his home production Heera Aur Pathar in 1964. And as they say, the rest is history.
In those days, most heroes were either in their 30s or 40s or belonged to the loud school of acting where the louder you shout, the better.
Waheed Murad introduced a style of dialogue delivery that was neither loud nor slow; in fact, it was exactly what people in real life followed.
That was one of the reasons why he became so popular – his fans started following his mannerisms, his style of speaking, his hairstyle and above all, his wardrobe. Women went crazy on meeting him and once Madam Noor Jehan had to wait in her car because girls from local colleges had jammed the MA Jinnah road, circling Waheed Murad’s car.
From Heera Aur Pathar to Hero, for 2 decades Waheed Murad entertained the audience with his films; he did act in a handful of Punjabi and one Pashto film but Urdu flicks remained his forte.
He worked with nearly all the leading heroes and heroines of his time and most of the established directors had the chance of casting him in their films.
It was a known fact that Mohammad Ali was the action hero of the 70s while Waheed Murad was the romantic one, but that didn’t mean that he wasn’t good at playing the Angry Young Man. He did that in a few films as well and when he was pitted against Mohammad Ali and Nadeem, he excelled as the lost brother in Jab Jab Phool Khile, as well as in Shama and Phool Mere Gulshan Ka.
Actors who came after Waheed Murad tried emulating him and that’s why those who developed their own style managed to stay, the rest just faded away.
Jamil, father of Bollywood actress Tabu did a handful of films in Pakistan as a wannabe Waheed Murad but couldn’t sustain as the ‘original’ was on top of his game during that period.
In addition, not everyone could film a song like Waheed who was considered a master of the trade – in fact, he was considered second to Dilip Kumar in this regard and got better with the passage of time. Be it the trendy Ko Ko Ko Rina or the sad Haan Isi Mod Par, the melancholic Dil Ko Jalana or the happy Bhabhi Meri Bhabhi, Waheed Murad was at ease in every genre.
Yes, his career plummeted in the 80s because of the arrival of new actors as well as the decline in quality of films in the country, but 35 years after his death, Waheed Murad lives on. His son Adil Murad is carrying his legacy forward and appeared in Syed Noor’s Chain Aye Na where he impressed many if not all. He is also one of the leading TV producers in the country and one hopes that one day, he is able to emulate his father, who is responsible for heralding Pakistani films into the modern era.