Mehboob Khan (born Mehboob Khan Ramzan Khan; 9 September 1907–28 May 1964) was a pioneer, producer-director of Hindi cinema, best known for directing the social epic Mother India (1957), which won the Filmfare Awards for Best Film and Best Director and was a nominee for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. He set up his production company, Mehboob Productions, and later a film studio, the Mehboob Studios in Bandra, Mumbai in 1954.
He was brought to Bombay from his hometown Gujrat by Mr. Noor Muhammad Ali Muhammed Shipra (Producer and horse supplier in Indian cinema)to work as a horse shoe repairer in a stable (Owned by Noor Muhammad Ali Muhammed Shipra). Then one day at a shooting of chandra shekar (from south) director he (Mehboob sahub) showed his interest to work with chandra and then after seeing his great interest and skills Mr. Chandra asked Mr. Noor Muhammad Ali Muhammed Shipra to take Mehboob with him to work as small jobs in the film studios of Bombay (assistant director). He started as an assistant in the Silent Films Era and an extra in the studios of the Imperial Film Company of Ardeshir Irani, before directing his first film, Al Hilal a.k.a. Judgement of Allah (1935), when he started directing films for the Sagar Film Company. Notable films he directed included Deccan Queen (1936), Ek Hi Raasta (1939) and Alibaba (1940). Directorial features like Aurat (1940) followed, with the studios Sagar Movietone and National Studios. In 1945, Khan set up his own production house, Mehboob Productions. In 1946 he directed the musical hit Anmol Ghadi which featured singing stars Surendra, Noorjehan and Suraiya in leading roles.
Mehboob Studios courtyard set-up by Khan in 1954, Bandra (W), Mumbai
Khan went on to produce and directed many blockbuster films, the most notable being the romantic drama Andaz (1949), the swashbuckling musical Aan (1951), melodrama Amar (1954) and the social epic Mother India (1957), the latter of which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1957 and was a remake of his own 1940 film Aurat. His earlier works were in Urdu, but his later material, including Mother India, were in Hindi although many say he used Hindustani, a friendlier and softer spoken version of Hindi and Urdu. Several of his films, especially his earlier films Humayun (1945), the story of a Mughal emperor who ruled India, Anmol Ghadi (1946) and Taqdeer, in which he introduced Nargis, who later married Sunil Dutt, were written by Aghajani Kashmeri. Kashmiri was responsible for picking and training Nargis in Hindustani and Urdu dialogue delivery. His last film as a director was the 1962 film Son of India. He died in 1964 at the age of 57, and was buried at Badakabarastan in Marine Lines, Mumbai. His death occurred the next day after the death of Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India.
Khan introduced and helped establish the careers of many actors and actresses who went on to become big stars in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s such as Surendra, Arun Kumar Ahuja, Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Sunil Dutt, Rajendra Kumar, Raaj Kumar, Nargis, Nimmi and Nadira. In 1961, he was a member of the jury at the 2nd Moscow International Film Festival. He remained the President of the Film Federation of India.
Khan was known for having been influenced by Hollywood films and his films often featured lavish sets in the style of the Hollywood era at that time. The oppression of the poor, class warfare and rural life are recurring themes in his work. Mehboob Khan was awarded the title of Hidayat Kar-e-Azam by the Indian government.