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Rafiq Ghaznavi: Spirit of inquiry - E.1

By Anis Shakur

Monday - February 20, 2017

I agree with John Ruskin in that the highest reward for a man’s toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes by it. His is a statement that holds too true to the show business great of the yesteryear, Rafiq Ghaznavi.

     In the real world, where tinkerers toil, the process often involves bringing together teams of experts from different disciplines—like directors, writers, producers. Together they climb over the walls and fences of their individual expertise. Below is the real life story of one such great human who also happened to be a self-made man.

     Born to an enlightened family in 1907, in Rawalpindi, Rafiq Ghaznavi was full of life since his earliest days. He passed his childhood amidst scenic, natural beauty, surrounded by mountains, valleys and lakes.

     After receiving his matriculation examination degree, Rafiq Ghaznavi moved to Lahore. In Lahore, he completed his intermediate examination from Islamia College, Lahore. Then he graduated from the Punjab University in 1933.

     During those days if a handsome, enthusiastic young man was endowed with acting talents, he was more inclined towards the glamorous movie business.  Rafiq Ghaznavi was no exception. Let us go eighty-seven years back in time and see how movies were made in that time period.

     Those were the days of silent movies. Though the vocal film ‘Alam Ara’ was released in 1931, still silent movies were in vogue for quite some time, just like black and white movies continued to flood the market after the advent of color movies.

     Visionary movie director, Mian A.R. Kardar, is considered the discoverer or ‘Columbus’ of the Lahore film industry. Moved by Rafiq Ghaznavi’s powerful voice and good looks, Kardar signed him as hero for his silent movie, ‘Brave heart’, while the latter was studying in college.

     Thus, Rafiq Ghaznavi debuted in the film ‘Brave heart’ in 1931 at the age of twenty-four. Soon Rafiq Ghaznavi began to outlive his town and his time while his companions were thinking what to make of their lives.

     Perhaps, Rafiq Ghaznavi was one of Indo-Pak sub-continent’s most admirable, attractive, capable, good-natured, handsome and happy-go-lucky artists to grace films. He attained enormous respect and renown because of his versatility.

     Director A.R. Kardar, on the other hand, made his first talking film, ‘Hoor Punjab’ in 1932. Later, he changed its name to ‘Heer Ranjha’ and it was released under the banner of Play art photo tone.

     Handsome, as Rafiq Ghaznavi was, Kardar picked him up for the romantic lead role of ‘Ranjha.’ While actress Anwari played the lead romantic role of ‘Heer Seyaal’. Additionally, Rafiq Ghaznavi composed music and lent his impressive voice to all the songs. Hence, he was the hero-composer-singer in the film ‘Heer Ranjha.’ Since all the songs were pictured on him he was also the singing star.

     In private gatherings, Rafiq Ghaznavi often said that whether it is a beautiful face or a lilting voice, gorgeous dress or demeanor, wonderful environment or a great moment, tasty food or an interesting conversation, one should always live to the fullest and makes life easier for others. He himself was a great talker, an optimist, and expected others to talk and think positively.

     After working in ‘Heer Ranjha’, Rafiq Ghaznavi migrated to Bombay and worked diligently for the Bombay film industry. Meanwhile, a world of new ideas had taken shape in an all-new era, as Rafiq Ghaznavi appeared in ‘Bharat movies’ film ‘Roshan Ara’, directed by G.R. Sethi.

     Rafiq Ghaznavi was acclaimed for his character and music in director Shanti Dev’s movie ‘Jawani deewani’, which was released under the banner of Junaid pictures.

     He eventually attained stardom with his convincing part in movies like ‘Samaaj ki bhool’, directed by Somi Master, and released under the banner of Imperial Film Company.

     Rafiq Ghaznavi was doubtlessly a high-energy, first-rank film star, though; through his acting he exudes an old world formality. He acted in the film ‘Behan ka prem’ and composed the songs as well. It was released under the banner of Prosperity Film Company.

     Though Rafiq Ghaznavi was the actor-director-composer in the film ‘Prem pujari’ such was the versatility of the man and his artistry. His best subject was music, which he anatomized in movies. ‘Prem pujari’ was released under the banner of Junaid pictures in 1935.

     Essentially, Rafiq Ghaznavi was a lovable man whose hatred of hypocrisy was legendary. He learned a lot from his colleagues. But he was his own man, always. He was such a smart actor

     Below are two examples of his intelligent acting:

     The film ‘Ghulam daku’ director, Moti B. Gadvani and released by Imperial film company.

     The film ‘Lail o nahaar’, director, Ardesheer Irani, and released by Imperial film company.

     Rafiq Ghaznavi, who was well known for his artistic creativity, often found, of all things, civility and honor in the entertainment world. The truth shines through every frame, thanks to Rafiq Ghaznavi’s acting skills and his unaffected radiance. Below are three examples:

     Imperial Film Company’s movie ‘Meray laal’, director Gunjaal.

     New orient pictures movie ‘Prem Bazaar’ director O. Nayek.

     Imperial Film Company’s movie ‘Do aurtain’, director Moti B. Gadvani.

     A part of his charm derives from the obvious fact that he was so much involved in the movie shoot he was enjoying at the same time. Rafiq Ghaznavi’s portraits of romantic and tragic scenes are unsurpassed in their honesty, refreshment and lasting corrective value. Below are three examples:

     Imperial film company’s movie, ‘Us nay kiya socha’ director Hafiz Jee.

     Mohan pictures movie ‘Bhaidee tarshol’, director M.A.Khan.

     Imperial Film Company’s movie, ‘Kis kay liye’ director Moti B. Gadvani.

(To be continued)



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