Remembering Kamal Amrohi on his 99th birth anniversary.

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Syed Amir Haider Kamal Naqvi, popularly known as Kamal Amrohi (17 January 1918–11 February 1993) was an Indian film director and screenwriter. He was a Shi’a Muslim and an Urdu and Hindi poet.[1] He is famous for his Hindi films such as Mahal (1949), Pakeezah (1972) and Razia Sultan (1983). He established Kamal Pictures (Mahal Films) in 1953 and Kamalistan Studio in Bombay in 1958.

In 1938, he left Amroha to study in Lahore, now part of Pakistan, where singer K. L. Saigal discovered him and took him to Mumbai (Bombay) to work for Sohrab Modi’s Minerva Movietoon film company, where he started his career working on films like Jailor (1938), Pukar (1939), Bharosa (1940), A.R.Kardar’s film (Shahjehan 1946). He made his debut as a director in 1949, with Mahal, starring Madhubala and Ashok Kumar, which was a musical hit, with songs by Lata Mangeshkar and Rajkumari Dubey.

He directed only four films; of these were Mahal (1949) for Bombay Talkies, Daera 1953 with Meena Kumari and Nasir Khan, Pakeezah, which was conceived in 1958 but was not brought to the screen until 1972. He also wrote the screenplay, lyrics and produced the latter. This was followed by Razia Sultan (1983), his last film. Though, he started a film, Majnoon with Rajesh Khanna and Rakhee as leads, however the film got shelved.
He wrote scripts for the movies made by Sohrab Modi, Abdul Rashid Kardar and K. Asif. He was one of the four dialogue writers for the latter’s famous 1960 movie, Mughal-e-Azam, for which he won the Filmfare Award.

As a director, he developed a style that combined a stylised direction with minimalist performances. This style was different from the one with expressive acting that was common in Indian cinema of his period.

In 1958, he started Kamaal Studios for his banner Mahal Films, though it closed down after three years and later changed hands to become Natraj Studios.

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