Reflections on Rangeela

By Anis Shakur
Friday – January 15, 2021
NEW YORK (United States): “No man ever yet became great by imitation,” asserted English writer, Samuel Johnson. That said, let us peruse how Rangeela touched stratosphere with sheer ingenuity.

“Jana hoga chorr kay ik din duniya kay dastoor,” singer, Rangeela, in the film “Diya Aur Tufaan.”

It is as arduous to measure Rangeela’s influence, as it is to count his hyphens. This body-builder-painter-actor-hero-comedian-producer-director-writer-singer-distributor-composer, also happens to be the great communicator.

Below is a sentimental journey through the life and times of the comedian, Rangeela.

Rangeela was born Sher Khan on January 1, 1937, in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan.

Later, he came to be known as Mohammed Saeed Khan.

Eventually he became Rangeela in the show business.

At a young age, he migrated to Parachinar, Pakistan, with his family.

Unlike other actors, Rangeela took keen interest in body-building and physical exercises as a teenager.

Next, Rangeela moved in to Lahore and earned his livelihood by painting bill-boards for the Lahore movie industry.

In times due course, he realised that his talents will not sustain him in a humble professional career of a painter.

Thus, Rangeela looked towards prominent actor of the time, Azad, who trained him in various faculties of the then Pakistani film industry.

Rangeela made his professional cinematic debut in a 1958 Punjabi film called 'Jatti', directed by M.J. Rana. Cast included Musarrat Nazeer, Sudhir, and Rangeela.

As it turned out, it was doable. Thus, Rangeela found his life calling-in the movies. With that commenced an exciting career that spanned over four decades.

He picked one success after another. Below are six examples:

Punjabi film, 'Chooriyaan', 1963, Urdu film,'Badnaam', 1966, golden jubilee Urdu film 'Humrahi, 1966, Urdu film 'Sawaal', 1966, Punjabi film 'Bharia mela', 1966, Punjabi film 'Lado', 1966.

Hopes were accordingly high for his movies, and it is no mean accomplishment that he surpassed expectations with the theatrical release of the five films below:

Punjabi film 'Jigri yaar', 1967, Punjabi film 'Dil da jani', 1967, golden jubilee Urdu film 'Sungdil', 1968, Punjabi film 'Roti', 1968, Punjabi film 'Dillan day sauday', 1969.

Inspired and awed by his success in the above movies, Rangeela worked harder in the future movies.

The super hit film 'Diya aur tufaan', May 9, 1969, was Rangeela’s directorial debut. Further, he was also the producer-singer-writer-actor of the movie. Stars included Ejaz, Naghma, Rangeela.

He directed numerous movies under the banner of ‘Rangeela productions’.

Excellence of his acting potential were enormous in the super hit film 'Rangeela', September 11, 1970, in which he played the title role of Rangeela. Director-producer-actor-writer, Rangeela. Stars included Nisho, Aqil, Rangeela.

Popular song, 'way gul sunn sonay Aa, haaye way mun monay Aa.' Singer, Tasawwar Khanum.

Rangeela earned plaudits from his adorers for his third consecutive super hit film 'Dil aur duniya', October 1, 1971, director-producer-actor-singer, Rangeela. Starring Habib, Aasia, Rangeela.

The above three films were big hits at the box office in a row. Thus, Rangeela successfully completed the 'hat trick' off his movies.

He brings in to the film 'Dil aur duniya', the sobering sense of a director’s prowess which is the very opposite to his celluloid persona.

Rangeela had been quite comfortable with his crowning achievement. Below are three success stories of Rangeela:

Director S. Sulaiman's film 'Bay wafa.'
Director Khwaja Khursheed's film 'Humraaz'. Cast included Mohammad Ali- Shamim Ara- Rangeela.
Director Humayun Mirza's film 'Dil-e-bay taab.’

'Sometimes people laugh at me for the lengths I have gone to,' 'those lengths have clearly paid off,’ said Rangeela.

Rangeela’s performance provoked feverish, star-making praise. Below are three examples:

Punjabi film 'Heer Ranjha', 1970, Urdu film 'Dosti', 1970, Punjabi film 'Basheera', 1972.

He brings in a new level of intensity to a production of 'Do Rangeelay', 1972, producer-director-writer-actor, Rangeela.

The films 'Ehsaas', 1972, and 'Umrao jan ada', 1972.

No sound is more sublime than the human voice. Rangeela possessed that ineffable pathos in his voice that brought tears to the eyes of the listeners.

His forte was tragic songs, and he was proficient at slow numbers as well.

Below are three examples of his charismatic voice, which gave new dimensions to the then tragic roles:

'Ga meray munwa gata jaray, jana hai hum ka dooor', the film 'Diya aur tufaan', pictured on Ejaz.
'Tut gaye Aaj meray dil kay taar', the 1972 film 'Do Rangeelay.'
Yahan qadar kya dil ki hogi, ye duniya hai sheesha garoan ki.' The 1972 film “Meri zindigi hai naghma.”

“My philosophy is to make people appear at their best,” said Rangeela.

He and his film crew made a concerted effort, which paid dividends. Rangeela found a way, in his exquisite fashion, to make his movies vivid and interesting.

Below are 6 examples:

Rangeela worked zealously for his production, 'Kubra Aashiq', 1973, which was the Urdu version of 'Hunch back of Notre Dame.' Rangeela filled in the lead role of Anthony Quinn in 'Kubra Aashiq.'

Too bad, the movie ended as a recipe for disaster, and Rangeela was literally devastated.

Essentially, he had invested his fortune in the film and he lost every penny in the transaction.

According to a movie critic, the film left Rangeela a hunch back in real life as well.

Few actors have experienced as much tragedy and heart-break as Rangeela in 'Kubra Aashiq.’

Though 'Kubra Aashiq' proved to be an unprecedented blow to Rangeela's movie career, he did not lose heart. His road to movie stardom is replete with success.

Rangeela's romance with Munawwar Zareef in the film 'Rangeela aur Munawwar Zareef', 1973, is worth applauding.

The 1974 film 'Manji kithay dahwan.'

The films 'Bay emaan', 1974, 'Farz aur mamta, 1975.

Rangeela, who loses himself in his work, is the creative mind of our film industry.

His funny characters created one of Pakistani entertainment’s most enduring and beloved personas. Below are three examples:

The films 'Jatt kurian tu darda', 1976, 'Jabru', 1977, 'Miss Singapore.’

Those who have seen them could never forget innocence of those movies, reflecting the condition of the time.

Achievement is largely the product of steadily raising one's levels of aspiration and expectation.

One may recall numerous movies to exemplify this point. Below are 6 such movies:

'Maula Jatt', 1979
'Aurat Raj', 1979, producer-director-actor, Rangeela. Rangeela appeared in four different characters in 'Aurat Raj'
'Khushbu', 1979
'Saathi', 1980
'Naheen abhi naheen' 1980
'Athra puttar', 1981

Reverting to his songs, all of his music is vivid and powerful, but what is most striking about it, is its sense of sadness.

Recall the tremendous impact he made with songs like the three below:

'Hum nay tum say pyar kya hai, ulfat ka izhaar kya hai,” the 1970 film “Insaan aur Aadmi
'Bata aye duniya walay keh ye kaisi teri basti hai,” the 1971 film “Dil aur duniya”
'Jab pyar kisi say hota hai, to hota hai ye unjaam’

Over the years, through his songs and movies, he worked his wistfulness throughout Pakistan. Songs like the three below are a touchstone for all Rangeela's admirers:

'Tera kisi pay Aaye dil, tera koi dukhaye dil,” the 1972 film “Meri zindigi hai naghma,”
'Mein galyoan ka Raja.'
'Sunn meray kukku, sunn meray pappu.' The film 'Do Rangeelay', 1972.

The three songs below inscribe in listener's mind a sense of humanity that is exclusively its own:

'Chal meray hamrahi chal.' The film 'Dil Aur Duniya.' 1971.
'Lay chal ray sanwarya sajaniya kay gaaon.'
'Apni sansoan mein basa lo to inayat hogi.' The film 'Aurat Raj' 1979.

His patience was endless, and the joys were boundless. Rangeela's four glorious decades and numerous movies later, his fame is greater than ever. With 6 films below, he scored big at the Pakistani cinema:

'Visa Dubai da.' 1982.
The diamond jubilee film 'Bobby' 1984.
'Mehendi' 1985.
'Hum aik hain' 1986.
'Lawa' 1987.

Equally telling is the fact that Rangeela’s ability to get through the bone of what makes us tick as human beings and find humour in that, relegated Rangeela to the topmost position in the Pakistani film industry as a singer also. He won the hearts of millions through songs like the four below:

'Chal bhaag yahan say.'
Mein tay maran ga,” the 1973 film “Insaan aur gadha,”
'Mera mehboob meray,” the 1972 film “Main bhi to insaan hoon.”
'Mera pyar bhi.’

Rangeela had an amazing degree of motivation and determination, which was a gift from God. Moreover, he continued to change, grow and fulfil his life. He continued to challenge himself in his later films, such as the 6 below:

'Bazar-e-Husn'. 1988.
Double version film 'Madam Bowery' 1989.
Double version film 'Rangeelay Jasoos.' 1989.
Double version film 'International Gorillay.' 1990.
The film 'Majhu' platinum jubilee, 1991.
Double version film 'Abdullah the great.' 1992.

All through those years, he worked relentlessly to make his music and movies leap to life.

Rangeela established his national reputation, and his fame skyrocketed and extended beyond his imagination, after the release of the four songs below:

'Hum nay jo deikhay khwab suhanay,” the 1970 film “Rangeela.”
'Is duniya mein pyar na karna,” the 1973 film “Parday mein rehnay do.”
'Yeh duniya kya hai.” The 1973 film “Mr. Buddhu.”
'Kya mila zaalim tujhay kyon dil kay tukray kar deye, rang-e-mehfil deikh kar mehfil kay tukray kar deye,” the 1972 film “Main bhi to insaan hoon.”

Rangeela had been a dominant force in the Pakistani cinema for over 40 years.

All through those times, he had really gone to the depths for the moviegoers.

7 movies below will keep his name alive for an extended period of time:

'Mazboot', 1993.
'Jo dar gaya wo mar gaya.' 1995.
'Sona Chandi.'
'Piya Milan ki Aas.'
'Mein bhi to insaan hoon.'

Rangeela's significance shines through in his well-directed movies, in which he acted as well, like the three below:

'Meri mohabbat teray hawalay.'
'Subha ka tara.'

Likewise, he emerged as a competent director in movies like the three below:

'Bay Gunah', 'Ik do hati teen laray' and ‘Amanat.'

There is plenty of comic exuberance, but you never lose sight of authoritative direction, by Rangeela. Below are 6 examples:

'Namak halal.'
'Ka jee.'
'Raja Rani.'
'Sahab Bahadur.'

The film 'Khubsurat Shaitan', 1993, was the last movie with Rangeela as director. The cast included Rangeela's son, Salman and Nisho's daughter, Sahiba and Rangeela.

Similarly, renowned singer, Sajjad Ali's directed film 'Ek aur love story', 1999, was the last movie with Rangeela as an actor.

Let us see what was in store for Rangeela at the Nigar Awards gala, honoring the year's best movies and actors:

Rangeela earned the Nigar Award for best screen- writer, in the film 'Rangeela' in 1970.

Rangeela earned the Nigar Award for best comedian, in the film 'Dil Aur Duniya' in 1971.

Rangeela earned the Nigar Award for simultaneously playing three roles in the film 'Meri zindigi hai naghma' in 1972.

Rangeela earned the Nigar Award for best comedian in the film 'Naukar tay malik' in 1982.

Rangeela earned the Nigar Award for best story- writer, in the film 'Sona chandi' in 1983.

Rangeela earned the Nigar Award for best director in the film 'Sona chandi' in 1983.

Rangeela earned the Nigar Award for best comedian in the film 'Miss Colombo' in 1984.

Rangeela earned the Nigar Award for best comedian in the film 'Baaghi qaidi' in 1986.

Rangeela earned the Nigar Award for best comedian in the film 'Teen yakkay teen chakkay' in 1991.

Rangeela received the Presidential Pride of Performance Award in 2005.

Rangeela married thrice, prominent amongst his children are Kamran, Salman, Ayesha and Farah.

Additionally, Rangeela won national acclaim, working his expressive face to take us on flights of laughter.

Unfortunately, his liver and kidney ailments forced him to an early retirement from the show business.

According to a news report, Rangeela’s daughter, Farah Deeba, said that he was recuperating.

Though Rangeela understood how time can strip a soul of comforts.

Sadly enough, with the passage of time, his health deteriorated and Rangeela crossed over on May 24, 2005, in Lahore at 68 years of age. May his soul rest in peace.

From actor to director, and from writer to singer, Rangeela had proved resourceful, ingenious and pioneering.

Most of all, the choices he made, and the performances he gave, helped ignite a renaissance of quality that lives on today.

Info: Eminent storyteller, Anis Shakur, is a Pakistani born United States (US) citizen. He works for the US federal and State government. He resides at a stone-throw distance from the darting shores of the Atlantic ocean in New York, for the past three decades.