Dashing, Debonair, Darpan

By Anis Shakur
Thursday – June 18, 2020
NEW YORK (United States): American thinker, Norman Vincent Peale, once remarked, ‘Four things for success: work and pray, think and believe.’ That said let us peruse how Darpan reached the pinnacle of acting by virtue of hard work.

‘Himmat say her qadam uthana, tu hai Pakistani, tujh say he ye mulk banay ga duniya mein lafani,’ Ahmed Rushdi in the film, ‘Jab say deikha hai tumhain.’

Darpan was born Syed Ishrat Abbas in 1928 in India. He was the second son of Syed Daud Moosa and Darpan happened to be the younger brother of Santosh Kumar.

He debuted in director Haider Shahs’ movie, ‘Amanat, in which he appeared with his real name, Ishrat, in 1950, starring, Ishrat-Gulshan Ara.

His blue colour eyes and strikingly sharp features made Ishrat prince charming of the fairy tale story in the 1950s.

In fact, he was the opposite of Santosh, when it came to sobriety.

In December 1951, Ishrat played 'Khadim' in director Amjad Husain's Punjabi film ‘Billo'.

In 1959, Ishrat played opposite Musarrat Nazeer in director A. Rauf’s film, ‘Sahara,’

Najma Malik played the title role of 'Billo', while Ismail’s forceful role of a phaja meerasi was praiseworthy. Ghulam Mohammad, G.N.Butt, Mehmood phana, Abu Shah and Mirza Sultan Baig, Radio Pakistan's renowned artist, Chaudhry Nizam Deen were also included in the cast.

After 'Billo', Ishrat performed a role in director Malik Sharif's movie 'Mehbooba'.

Soon after 'Mehbooba', Ishrat went to India, changed his name to Darpan (Darpan is a Hindi word meaning Aa'ena or mirror) and worked in a few movies. Prominent among them were 'Baarati' and 'Adal-e-Jehangiri'.

In 'Adal-e-Jehangiri, Darpan worked opposite Meena kumari. At that time, a notable Indian actress, Nigar Sultana, who hailed from Hyderabad Deccan, fell in love with Darpan. This was a one-sided love affair, since Darpan was not interested in her. Hence, he went back to Pakistan.

To Darpan’s amazement, Nigar chased him the whole journey and reached Lahore in his pursuit.

However, Darpan kept his distance from her. Jilted in love, Nigar bounced back to India with a broken heart.

Thus, Darpan restarted his movie career in Pakistan with director Jafar Malik's first film 'Baap ka gunah' (producer: Anwar Kamal Pasha, composer: Rasheed Attre, starring: Darpan, Musarrat Nazeer, actor Saleem Raza, Fazal Haq, Asif Jah).

This icon of the 1960s and hero of the most popular films of his generation, worked opposite Sauran Lata in director Nazeer's 1957 movie 'Noor-e-Islam'.

Next, he teamed up with Musarrat Nazeer in director Fazal's film 'Rukhsana'.

Events unfolded rapidly as Darpan developed as an artist. In 1959, he joined hands with director A.Rauf and Musarrat Nazeer in the film 'Sahara'.

Darpan prided himself in marvellous movies and he accepted a lead role opposite Yasmeen in the film 'Khul ja sum, sum' (based on the story of 'Alif Laila', Ali Baba challis chore, released under the banner of Zeenat films, director: Siqlain Rizvi, cast: Darpan, Yasmeen, Zeenat, Nazar, Naeem Hashmi, Sheikh Iqbal, Shahnawaz, Rajni, composer: Tufail Farooqi)

Darpan, who had a large audience, worked in the film 'Shama' (1959 director: Nazeer, starring: Darpan, Sauran Lata, composer: Hasan Lateef Malik)

Destined for glory, Darpan produced the film 'Saathi' (1959 starring Darpan, Neelo).

'Saathi 'was highly successful and it paved the way for high quality movies in the future.

At that time, Darpan entered the golden era of his career, when almost every day brought new triumphs.

Producer Iqbal Shehzad launched his own production studio, Montana films, and produced his first film 'Raat kay rahi' under its banner. It was also Iqbal Yusuf's first film as director. (Starring Darpan, Rehana).

Darpan did not mold himself upon Santosh, he was influenced by him. However, he was his own man, always.

Afterwards, Darpan worked in the film 'Saheli' that was a touchstone for all his fans. The scope of the story was vast. 'Saheli 'had all the ingredients for a sure-shot success.

Enter visionary director S.M.Yusuf, who seemed to have been born to direct the film ‘Saheli,' Darpan, Nayyar Sultana and Shamim Ara were among the movie's passionate cast.

Indeed, Darpan, Shamim Ara and Nayyar Sultana worked together as conceptual artists. The results moved audiences greatly.

Moreover, Darpan's reputation among his admirers was so solid that the role and the real person became one.

'Saheli' was followed by the film 'Insaan badalta hai' (Producer: Waheed Murad, director: Munawwar Rasheed, starring: Darpan, Shamim Ara) and 'Jab say dekha hai tumhain' (producer: Waheed Murad, director: Munawwar Rasheed, starring: Darpan, Zeba)

Darpan's productivity was awe-inspiring. Darpan produced and his younger brother S.Sulaiman, (salo) directed the movies. Darpan’s performance in the films speak volumes.

In a succession of movies, Darpan had developed a persona as the superstar of his era:

The film 'Lakhoan afsanay' was Darpan's crowning achievement.

(Director: Sheikh Hasan, starring: Darpan, Suzy Daniel and Indian actress Yamla Kumari.Suzy Daniel was the younger sister of singer Deborah Daniel).

What is more, Darpan did not waver from his commitment to hard work. Hence, his common sense acting had an outsized impact on the moviegoers, especially in the super duper film ‘Baaji,’

Darpan continued to thrive even in the face of challenges from various directions. There is no substitute for a friendly face that offers convincing performances, as they were evident in the films ‘Ik tera sahara,’ and ‘Qaidi.’

In fact, when we are armed with the truth and sincerity, it makes everything that much easier, as it appeared in the films ‘Yahudi ki larki,’ and ‘Payal ki jhankar.’

Truth said Darpan was steadfastly committed to ameliorate the movie business. Thus, with the hard and fast goal to come up with worthy acting, Darpan excelled in the film ‘Gulfam,’ as well.

Obviously, the cine-goers were awestruck at Darpan’s ability to adapt during times of stiff competition. Indeed, it evinced such a positive aspect of Darpan’s persona. Two instances of Darpan’s fabulous performances are the films ‘Shabab,’ and ‘Koh-e-Qaaf.’

Moreover, first and foremost, Darpan was an educated, enlightened human. As such he knew we possess the power to do something greater than ourselves. Therefore, he worked relentlessly as always in the films ‘Jawab do,’ and ‘Ik musafir ik haseena.’

Likewise, Darpan went above and beyond to come up to the expectations of the cine-goers in the films ‘Azmat,’ and ‘Meray Mehboob.’

Alas! I would be remiss if I did not highlight Darpan’s best efforts in the film ‘Aanchal.’ Darpan’s consistent attempts in the films ‘Naila,’ and ‘Shola aur Shabnam,’ seems like a fitting tribute to someone we grew to love.

Essentially, when an actor like Darpan lives its values he leaves empowerment in its wake. Two quick examples are the films ‘Al-Hilal,’ and ‘Shikari.’ Apparently, every day Darpan continued to pursue with the same tenacity and conviction that his family members embodied.

Reverting to Darpan’s movies, it brings us tremendous pleasure to think of his dedication in the films ‘Jalwa,’ and ‘Maujiza.’ Further, Darpan felt blessed to see and engage with his scene partners and spend quality time during the location shooting of movies like ‘Bahadur,’ and ‘Shaam Sawera.’

Furthermore, those were gorgeous and uplifting moments that he invests on the movie shoot of the films ‘Balam,’ ‘Fasana-e-dil.’

When we look at Darpan’s more than two decades of performances, it seems to us that Darpan dextrously worked to expand the robust range of opportunities available in the realm of movies that includes the films like ‘Meri bhabi,’ and ‘Hamjoli.’

By all means, Darpan had the right to celebrate his numerous accomplishments. However, he knew that he cannot sit back and be complacent. Therefore, he worked diligently in the film ‘Saza.’

Over and above, the film ‘Lakhoan afsanay,’ was Darpan’s crowning achievement. Director, Sheikh Hasan, Indian actress Yamla, Darpan, Suzy Daniel, (Suzy Daniel was Deborah Daniel’s younger sister)

‘Jahan waloan nay miltay he kiya hai yoon juda hum ko, keh jaisay khwab deikha tha tumhain apna bana nay ka.’ The number one song in the film ‘Saheli,’ duet, Naseem Begum – Saleem Raza.

Darpan received the Nigar award for best actor in the film 'Saheli'.’

At the pinnacle of his movie career, Darpan married Nayyar Sultana. Darpan changed a lot after marrying Nayyar. Much of his wit and smiles was replaced by his life partner's pensive personality.

In fact, Age did not slow him down. Sagacious as he was, Darpan possessed the uncanny ability to foresee future events. He understood the 1970s were changing times and that time had come for change of guards: New actors were fast replacing the old ones.

Before younger actors sidelined him out of the limelight, he took a bold initiative by launching his recruiting agency in the commercial area of defence society and dedicated himself to his new business.

Darpan, a Pakistani phenomenon and a man with a very high degree of credibility, crossed over on November 8, 1980, in Lahore, Pakistan, at 52 years of age.

After Darpan's death, his son, Ali Abbas, was wedded to the daughter of Darpan's younger brother, Syed Mansoor.

When one contemplates about Darpan in the year 2020, 40 years after his demise, one realises that Darpan exists, even though he is no longer around. What does strongly exists is the memory of it.

Every adorer will always vividly remember Darpan, because his character reminds them of the way things were.

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.