Santosh Kumar is a household name in the subcontinent, and is known as the first ever romantic hero of Pakistan Film Industry. He was an actor of the yesteryears, a pioneer of the Pakistan Film Industry which is commonly known as Lollywood. When he entered Lollywood after the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the film industry was still in its infancy. There were very few actors compared to today who were making the film industry stand up on its feet, and he was one of them. SANTOSH KUMAR, Pakistan’s Romantic Hero That Was, Is And Always Will Be
Santosh Kumar’s original name was Syed Musa Abbas Raza, who hailed from an Urdu speaking and well educated family. He was born on 25 December 1925 in Lahore which in those years came under British India. He was a very intelligent and bright kid who excelled in his education. His confidence far exceeded others which helped him land into the world of entertainment.
Santosh Kumar was introduced to films by a friend of his who encouraged him to try out acting. He, like every other actor, started with minor roles and made his way up. Ahensa(1947) was the first film in which he came as a side hero followd by Meri Kahani(1949) which were made in British India. These two movies established him as an actor who was slowly making his way to the spotlight.
In 1949, the same year he worked in Meri Kahani, Santosh got his breakthrough as the main lead in the film Beli(1949), which was an official Pakistani production. The screenplay of the film was written by the famous short story writer Sadat Hasan Manto, and was directed by Masood Pervez. In it, he worked opposite Shahina and Sabiha Khanum. Beli proved to be a milestone in Santosh’s career which opened the gates of fame for him. The same year, director Anwar Kamal Pasha established his film studio Naubahar Films, and started his on location shoot for the film Do Ansoo(1950). Santosh was cast as the lead actor opposite actress Sabiha Khanum, who coincidentally was also making her way up in the film industry. Do Ansoo was an instant success and became the first Pakistani Film to acheive the status of Silver JubileeSantosh Kumar also got the oppurtunity to work opposite Pakistan’s Melody Queen: Madam Noor Jahan in a Punjabi film Chanway(1951). One of the songs ‘Teray Mukhray Da Kala Kala Til Vay’, sung by Madam Noor Jahan gave the movie the charm it deserved, and gave Santosh a step forward to achieving the super star status. He did three more films opposite Madam Noor Jahan which are Gulnaar(1953), Lakht e Jiggar(1956) and Intezaar(1956)
Santosh Kumar went on making films nearly every year opposite actresses Shammi, Swaran Lata, Musarrat Nazir, Ragni and Meena Shori, with whom he gave hits like Shehri Babu(1953), Pattan(1955), Nazrana(1955) and Miss 56(1956). During the course of these seven years, the majority of the films that he did were opposite actress Sabiha Khanum. Sabiha Khanum became Santosh’s real life love interest and after shooting their film Waada(1957), they got married. Till now, he also got the title of the first ever romantic hero of Pakistan.
Santosh’s marriage with Sabiha proved to be quite fruitful, as both became an on and off screen duo who did films together and promoted them internationally. The film Waada also gave Santosh his first ever Nigar Award, and till now, he is the first ever actor to get this award for the Best Actor category. He bagged two more Nigar Awards for Best Actor in the films Ghoongat(1962) and Daman(1963).
Santosh and Sabiha did several hit films together. The song Dila Thehr Ja Yaar Da Nazara Lain De, sung by Munir Hussain, in the Punjabi film Mukhra(1958) shows their hidden off screen chemistry come out on the screen.
Santosh Kumar’s grasp at general and film knowledge, and the amount of education he recieved enabled him to represent the Pakistan Film Industry internationally. He went around the world on meetings, where he stood shoulder to shoulder with international film actors, directors and producers. By getting involved in such activities, Santosh became known among the international films circle as the the Foreign Minister of Pakistan Film industry.
Santosh Kumar also ventured into film production and direction and went on to produce and direct his one and only film Shaam Dhalay(1960), in which he himself played the lead role opposite his wife Sabiha Khanum. The film was written by Hafeez Malik, the music was given by Rasheed Attray and the lyricist was Tanvir Naqvi, whose poetry was sung by Naseem Begum and Munir Hussain.
Santosh went on doing films opposite different actors, including his own brother Darpan, who like him had also gained the super star status. Other well known actors with whom he worked during the 1960s, 70s and 80s included Ratan Kumar, Yousuf Khan, Nayyar Sultana, Neelo, Sultan Rahi, Waheed Murad, Muhammad Ali, Rani, Bahar Begum, Zeba, Nadeem Shamim Ara and Babra Sharif.
Santosh Kumar’s contribution to the Pakistan Film Industry is an immense one. He always kept himself abreast of the changing times and made his moves accordingly. He died on 11 June 1982 at the age of 56. He did 85 films in the span of 35 years in the Pakistan Film Industry with the filim Deewane Do(1985) as being his last one which was released after his death. The film starred Babra Sharif opposite Nadeem Sahab, who carried on the legacy of Santosh Kumar as an actor. In 2010, he was awarded Sitara e Imtiaz by Asif Ali Zardari, the President of Pakistan.
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