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Najam Naqvi was born on April 11, 1913 in Amroha, British India. He received a Bachelor’s degree from Aligarh Muslim University where he met and befriended Khwaja Ahmed Abbas who was to go on to become a famous filmmaker, director, journalist and writer.

K A Abbas was instrumental in arranging a match between Najam Naqvi and his cousin Mohammad Fatima, a great-grand daughter of Maulana Hali, one of Urdu’s greatest classical poets. After his start as director of continuity at Bombay Talkies, Najam Naqvi went on to become a director in his own right. He migrated to Pakistan in 1954 where he first settled in Karachi and then moved to Lahore. He had 11 children.

The family suffered a severe blow when Najam Naqvi’s wife passed away suddenly in 1969. In 1967 he retired from the Pakistani film industry and devoted his time entirely to taking care of the agricultural land his wife had inherited from her father. Remembered with affection and regard by Shamim Ara and Mehdi Hasan, he received regular visits from them.

Najam Naqvi passed away on January 26, 1982.

Syed Najmul Hassan Naqvi, known in the film world as Najam Naqvi, was an Indian film director who migrated to Pakistan in 1954 and continued making films there until his retirement from the film industry in 1967.


He began his career in India in 1936 with Sir Himansu Rai of Bombay Talkies and was in charge of continuity. Working with Himansu Rai were German cinematographers Franz Austin and Josef Wirsching, both of whom were deported from India when WWII started.


Najam Naqvi’s first film, Achuut Kanya, starred a youthful Ashok Kumar and the famous actress Devika Rani in the lead roles. Dealing with issues of caste and class, the film remains popular to this day among Indian cinema aficionados. While working on continuity, Najam Naqvi took on an important role, that of Devika Rani’s fiancé and later husband, following which he made appearances in a few other films of the same era.


In 1940 he began his directorial debut with Punar Milan, starring Kishore Sahu and Snehaprabha Pradhan. In 1954 he discovered and introduced, Raaj Kumar in his film Rangeeli. The first film he directed after his arrival in Pakistan was Kunwari Bewa, in which he introduced Shamim Ara as the female lead. Like Raaj Kumar, this shy, reticent young girl also rose to fame and fortune in the world of cinema. He made 11 films in India and 7 films in Pakistan…

Najam Naqvi’s films are characterized by lilting and catchy musical numbers and cover a wide range of themes and subjects. Mehdi Hassan sang his first film song for Najam Naqvi’s film Kunwari Bewa. One of Faiz’s most famous poems “mujh se pehli si muhabbat mere mehboob na maang” was composed to music and sung by Noor Jahaan for Radio Pakistan. Najam Naqvi persuaded her to let him use the song for his film Qaidi. She agreed. The song was filmed on Shamim Ara with a slight variation created by Rashid Attre, the well-known Pakistani music director. The Qaidi version of Faiz’s poem has now become part of the public’s consciousness wherever Faiz Ahmed Faiz is known and read.