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Lahore a launchpad for many filmstars and singers

LAHORE: Many high profile Indian actors and singers lived in the Walled City in the 1940s and Lakshmi Chowk was where the film fraternity got together in tongas decorated with maroon flowers, foot bells and lamps on the side.

The tonga was the primary means of transport for the ordinary and elite in the 40s. Most tongas were undecorated, but the ones used by the elite were special and fascinating.

Indian superstars Pran, Muhammad Rafi, Om Parkash, Balraj Sani, Dev Anand and many less known artistes started their film careers from Lahore. The film life in Lahore was very high profile and animated in those days. Lakshmi Chowk was the hot spot for formal and informal film gatherings.

Pran, who mostly played the role of a villain in films, lived in Qilla Gujjar Singh. He was a skilled photographer and took photographs of famous artistes. One day – while standing at a pan shop in Lakshmi Chowk – he met Wali, a leading film director of the time. Wali asked Pran if he was interested in acting and Pran said yes. Wali wrote the address of Pancholi Studios (one of the most famous film studios of Lahore in Muslim Town) on the back of a cigarette pack and asked Pran to see one of his friends there.

Pran started his film career with ‘Chaudhry’ and later appeared as a hero in ‘Khaandaan’, a film by Shaukat Hussain Rizvi. The heroine was melody queen Noor Jahan. Pran migrated to Bombay in 1947.

The subcontinent’s legendary singer Muhammad Rafi lived in Bhaati Gate. He was from a family of barbers and ran his own barbershop. Rafi had a beautiful voice and most of his customers would often ask him to sing for them while they got their hair cut or got a shave. A man from the film industry introduced Rafi to film director Gul Baloch who gave Rafi the opportunity to sing three songs for ‘Gul Zaman’. The film proved a launching point for Rafi’s film career in Lahore and by the time he migrated to India in 1947, he was an accomplished singer. In Bombay Rafi got a breakthrough in ‘Jugnoo’. The hero was Dilip Kumar and heroine Noor Jehan. Om Parkash was also one of the great names of Bombay. He lived at Matti Chowk, Lohari Gate and always rented out a decorated tonga to take him from Matti Chowk to Lakshmi Chowk every day. Parkash did many small and large roles in films made in Lahore and also migrated to India in 1947.

Balraj Sani also lived at Matti Chowk and was the secretary general of the All India Communist Party. He studied at Government College. Sani also acted in pre-Partition films in Lahore. Dev Anand lived in Lohari Gate, but later moved to Bhaati Gate. He also studied at Government College. Dev Anand participated actively in politics in Lahore. His brother Chaitan Anand was a famous film director in Lahore and was considered quite influential in film studios when it came to casting and other affairs.

Meena Shori was one of the leading female actors of her times. She lived in Bhaati Gate and married the owner of Shori Film Studio (now Shah Noor Studio). She acted in several pre-Partition films made in Lahore and migrated to India in 1947. In 1956 she returned to Pakistan to act in ‘Ms 56’ and never went back to India. She accepted Islam and started living in Lahore. BR Chopra is a leading name in production and direction in the Indian film industry. Chopra lived in an area where at present Chuburji Quarters exist. He produced a film in Lahore called ‘Chandni Chowk’. Khayam, one of the leading music composers of the Indian film industry, was his assistant and served him and his guests tea.

Khurshid Begum was an outstanding singer from Lahore who migrated to India in 1947. She also lived in Bhaati Gate. She sang several famous songs for various Indian films. She sang a great song for film ‘Tan Sain’ with singer Sehgal. She returned to Pakistan after a few years and started living in Karachi.

Tanveer Naqvi was a noted lyricist of his times. He lived in Faqirkhana Museum inside Bhaati Gate. He wrote ‘Awaz Dey Kahan Hai’ and ‘Jaan-e-Baharan, Rashk-e-Chaman’. He migrated to India in 1947. Naqvi also returned to Pakistan after a few years and spent the rest of his life in Lahore. Lakshmi Chowk was the focal point of Lahore’s film industry crowd. By the evening, Lakshmi would be full of tongas, with film stars, top film directors and producers thronging teahouses and discussing filmy affairs. Pran, Om Parkash and Al Nasir, another Lahori film hero, would spend their evenings chatting and playing billiards.

There also was a hotel called King Circle at Lakshmi Chowk where film stars gathered. A bank has taken its place these days. Even today Lakshmi Chowk is a major centre of filmi Lahore.

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  • Sahil Khan Added Sir/Madam : i am a singer & poet ...
    me apni poetry apni Awaz me record krana chahta hn
    plz give me chance sir
  • ALI Added THAT'S NICE TO KNOW THAT SO MANY GREAT NAMES IN THE INDIAN FILM INDUSTRY ACTUALLY STARTED THEIR CAREER FROM LAHORE............LAHORE OFF COURSE HAS BEEN A CULTURAL AND ARCHITECTURAL HUB IN THE SUBCONTINENT AND EVEN TODAY LAHORE IS CULTURAL, EDUCATIONAL, SPORTS AND ARCHITECTURAL CAPITAL OF PAKISTAN.

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