Today is the 29th death anniversary of Khwaja Ahmad Abbas591 views
K.A. Abbas left this world nearly three decades ago, but the humanism that shone through his creative life will remain alive for all time. He lives on in the minds and hearts of millions of people all over the world who have perused and relished his newspaper columns, read his books, seen his feature and documentary films, exulted at his film dialogues and marveled at his skill of film script and dialogue writing and his dramas.
Khwaja Ahmad Abbas is considered one of the pioneers of Indian parallel or neo-realistic cinema. He is credited with having ushered politics into mainstream Hindi movies. The works of the writer of Awara (1951) and Mera Naam Joker (1970) and the maker of films such as Dharti Ke Lal (1946) often spoke of the freedom of expression, communalism, caste and gender equality.
Writer of 74 books, 90 Urdu short stories, and maker of films like Shehar Aur Sapna (1964) and Saat Hindustani (1969), Abbas had several firsts to his credit. For instance, he was the first to highlight the plight of Dharavi inhabitants through the film “Shaher Aur Sapne” which won the National Award in 1963; the first to speak on water crisis through “Do Boond Paani” in 1972 and also the first one to make a film on Naxalism – “The Naxallite” in 1982 – in which Mithun Chakravarty and Smita Patil worked for free.
His column ‘Last Page’, holds the distinction of being one of the longest-running columns in the history of Indian journalism. The column began in 1935, in Bombay Chronicle, and moved to the Blitz after the Chronicles closure, where it continued until his death in 1987. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1969, by Government of India.
Khwaja Ahmad Abbas was one of the most incandescent gems, not only in films but also in journalism and literature that India has ever produced.
Abbas is known today for having given Amitabh Bachchan a break in his ‘Saat Hindustani’. Bachchan has confessed elsewhere that he would have gone back to Calcutta and restarted work in his old company had he not got that break.
From left to right: Utpal Dutt, Jalal Agha, Anwar Ali, Shenaaz, Madhu, Irshad Ali and Amitabh Bachchan in a scene from ‘Saat Hindustani’ (1970)