Saturday, July 11, 2009

Waheed Murad's statement about East Pakistan

Sehba Akhtar (1930-1996), who wrote ‘Mien Bhi Pakistan Hoon’ in the late 1970s, had also written lyrics for a parable about the tense relationship between the two wings of Pakistan filmed in 1968. Symbolically, the film was called Samandar (The Sea) because the two wings were connected only by sea (more than a thousand miles of hostile Indian territory separated them): “O friend, the sea is your friend and mine,” said Sehba in the title song (“Tera mera sathi hai lehrata samandar”).

The film was produced by Waheed Murad (1938-1983). For the female lead, he invited a Bengali heroine who had never worked in West Pakistan before: Shabnam, who later became a legend in her own right.

The parable, set in a community of fishermen, presented two friends. The protagonist (played by Waheed) wants to marry the chief’s daughter (Shabnam) while his friend (Haneef) wants to become the next chief. For this, he starts playing into the hands of an outsider whose main interest is exploitation. The protagonist beats his misguided friend in election but returns chieftainship to him after taking a solemn oath that he’ll protect the people.

If the beloved is taken as the ideology of Pakistan, then West Pakistan becomes the lover while the leaders of East Pakistan at that time could be identified with the friend playing into the hands of the enemy (India later invaded East Pakistan). At the crucial moment (when the protagonist has to decide whether he should fight his friend in the larger interest of the community), people dressed in various ethnic costumes are listening to the famous Sufi song, “Lal mori pat” at the tomb of a saint while the singer is wearing a Jinnah cap – need we say more?

Unfortunately the popularity of Waheed Murad as an actor has completely eclipsed the fact that he was one of the best screenwriters we have had in Urdu (he wrote four of his own films including Armaan). If this was the message of Samandar, then what else lies beneath the surface of eight other "auteur films" (films which he produced and also acted in them)?


  1. Ohh i see, Sir was this the "real" message of the film and was intented by him to let people know about it or you are perceiving it so by joining different chains together?

    I mean time also tells many things and with time we understand many undercover facts.If you go back at the time when this film was released then, the same was the EXACT message without any manipulation?? if so, then Waheed Muard had Strong eye on the facts..

    I have never seen urdu films except one "humrahi", but i'm very much interested in early films of Pakistan,as my mom tells that they were best.Unluckily they are not so easily available now..

  2. Very informative, I must say. I have always appreciated Waheed Murad as an actor and his contributions to Pakistani cinema but I never knew that he was also a screen writer. It just adds another feather to his cap.

    I hope and pray that our cinema goes back to making movies with more meaningful themes. There is so much to say and I wish our producers realize that movies are a wonderful way of educating and improving a society.

    Thank you for sharing this information.

  3. Waheed Murad is the only superstar produced by Pakistan Film industry, and this view is held by the critics and masses alike so we can say he was a CONSENSUS SUPERSTAR.

    He was a multidimensional personality and Khurram Sahib has pointed and elaborated amply about his not very known talent-screen writing.

    SAMANDAR the beautiful movie released in 1968 in the NAZ cinema (owned by Waheed's father-Nisar Murad) was a classic but the depth that SAMANDAR(sea) actually had only came only to my knowledge after the insight from Khurram

    The story of SAMANDAR was so strikingly relevant then and now also. Although the then East and West Pakistan was bridged or separated by a vast ocean and now there is no ocean per se but the gulf of mistrust has been created by those opportunist forces which played their similar role creating disharmony between East and West Pakistan.

    The two songs i) Lal mori path ii) Tera mera sathi hay lehrata samander, when seen with the method given by Khurram Sahib brings the real essence and force of these songs and I am wondering how soulful and insightful the other two beautiful songs are i) uon roth na gori muj say ii) tum
    jatay ho to jao mager na jatay tou acha tha. They are also beginning to make sense in the wider frame.

    This was the movie where Waheed brought in Sahba Akhter as a lyricist, Deebo Bhatachargia for music and Qamar Zaidi for direction instead of Masroor Anwer, Sohail Rana and Pervaiz Malik that previously fromed a group including Waheed as Film Arts.

    The Sufi’s have a great flair for numerology and they use words as codes and allusion. Since Waheed was making films with an obvious and the hidden message he also must have worked on naming his films keeping in mind Sufi system of
    numerological encryption.

    According to Arabic number system SAMANDAR is seen meem noon dal ray 60+40+50+4+7=161 or 1+6+1=8. The definition of number 8 is SACRIFICE and how well this depicts the
    theme of this movie.

    1. Naz cinema (owned by Waheed's father-Nisar Murad)
      Correction: Naz was owned by the Surya family since 1931 to extinction. Nisar Murad was a movie distributor for Waheeds flicks and had a office on the 2nd floor of Naz.

  4. Ab pushtay-e-kia hout jab chirian ghey khet.

    One of the worst thinking that a community resorts to console its frustrated mind after the failure is to go back and accept real facts that lead to its occurence long past its time. Reality remains reality and does not need any justification.

    When you see an imminant dark cloud coming and fail to shift your beds and other belongings inside do not blame the torrents that damaged them. It is useless to state the fact and accept that the dark cloud did this damage. Lord Huxulay described this mentality of a community suffering from a serious inferiority complex. The question arises:

    When you saw that the rain and the storm is imminant, why the hell you did not act to salvage your stuff?. The community resorts to reason out justification after every disaster that befalls it. Quoting Iqbal:

    Ab nawa par hai kioon, gulshan hua barham tera,
    Bey mahal tera taranum, nagma bey mousam tera.

    We close our eyesto the adage: Prevention is better than cure. Rather we do not believe in cure either and satisfy ourselves by stating the causes of the damage. Over and over we repeat the same rhetic and then waite for the other shoe to drop. Allah Allah Kher sallah-job is done.

    Pochh un sey chaman key hain jo dareen razdar,
    Keoon kar hua nabard chaman charkh-e-lajaward.

    Rhetoric after the disaster serves neither the victim nor compensates the caused damage. There are thousands of unsung heroes like Waheed Murad that we have seen and unrelentingly sacrificed. The list goes on and on. This is nauseating to the very hilt of the right minded Pakistanis. I must conclude with a verse by Iqbal:

    Hai teray imroz sey na aashna farda tera.

    God bless us all. Wasalam:

    Mukhtar Chaudhry
    Chicago IL

  5. Akhtar Sahib,

    Reading/listening and absorbing the nurturing richness here on RR will have to wait for me - so I am saving your compelling, sweeping (and as always so elegantly and compactly-written) comment here as a reminder to return to this gifted Pakistani and section.

    With heart-felt gratitude!

  6. ReeBz, Bushra, Zarin, Akhtar, Anonymous, Connie, thanks.

    ReeBz, your comment has already got answered in Akhtar Sahib's.

    Akhtar Sahib, I have no words to praise your comment the way it should be. I have learnt so much from it.

  7. unlukily they are not available now

  8. Connie and Khurram Sahib
    I am overwhelmed at the above comments from both of you. This Republic of Rumi means a lot to me, a journey to self and to otherSELVES.

  9. @Wajid Ali
    "seek and you will find"

  10. Was there any reason why waheed's popularity started to go down,was it because of the fans or the industry?

    1. It is an enigma. Apparently there was an overall decline in the popularity of Pakistani films. All heroes of our industry suffered decline in popularity but it stood out more in the case of Waheed due to his iconic stature.

      That was one of the explanations offered in a detailed feature carried out by the weekly Mag about a year before Waheed's death. It makes sense to me.

    2. Mr.Shafique,thank you,I kind of understand the reason.I still find it difficult to believe,something like this could happen to him.