Kamal Amrohi

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Kamal Amrohi कमाल अमरोही کمال امروہی
Kamal Amrohi (28553611573).jpg
Kamal Amrohi during 1950s
Born Syed Amir Haider Kamal Naqvi
17 January 1918 (1918-01-17)
Amroha, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died 11 February 1993 (1993-02-12) (aged 75)
Mumbai, India
Other names Kamal Amrohvi
Occupation film director and producer, screenwriter, dialogue writer
Spouse(s) Bilkis Bano
Meena Kumari
Awards 1961: Filmfare Best Dialogue Award: Mughal E Azam

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 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.[2]

Early life[edit]

Kamal Amrohi was born in Amroha, Uttar Pradesh in India and later took on the name Kamal Amrohi (or Amrohvi).[citation needed]


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.[3]

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.[4]

Kamal Mahal, Mumbai in 1940

He wrote scripts for the movies made by Sohrab Modi, Abdul Rashid Kardar and K. Asif.[2] 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.[5]

It was mentioned that the last movie he wanted to make was called Aakhri Mughal. He had written a substantial portion of the script. But it went into oblivion after his death. Noted film maker J P Dutta was to revive the film in the late 1990s which was supposed to have been Abhishekh Bachchan's debut movie. But later Dutta scrapped the project. He was again planning to revive the film in 2007 after the debacle of his costume drama Umrao Jaan (2006) remake from the cult film from the 80s.

Kamal Amrohi Studios[edit]

Kamal Amrohi Studios (Kamalistan Studios) was established in 1958, spread over 15 acre, it is situated in Jogeshwari East, off Jogeshwari – Vikhroli Link Road in Mumbai. It continues to run, managed by Amrohi's son, Tajdar Amrohi; despite 2010 news reports of it being sold,[6][7] and continued litigation thereafter.[8] Over the years, it has been venues of films like Razia Sultan (1983) Kamal Amrohi's last film as a director, Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) and Kaalia (1981), Khalnayak (1993), Koyla (1997), and recently the first schedule of film, Dabangg 2 was shot there in 2012, apart from the television shows are also shot at the complex.[7][9]

Personal life[edit]

Amrohi married three times: His first wife was Bano (who was a maid to Nargis's mother, Jaddan Bai. His second wife was Mehmoodie. He met Meena Kumari during the filming of Tamasha. They fell in love and married on 14 February 1952, on Valentine's Day in a much private ceremony. Only Amrohi's friend Baaqar Ali & Meena Kumari's younger sister Madhu were aware of this development. The couple then made Daera, a film based on their love story, however the movie tanked at the box office. During the filming of Azaad in 1954, both of them planned another movie, Pakeezah. The film went on floors by 1956 but as the craze of colour films increased, particularly after the release of Mother India, the black & white scenes were re-shot to colour sequences. After the release of Guru Dutt's classic Kaagaz Ke Phool which marked the arrival of Cinemascope technique, the film was again shot, this time in Cinemascope. By the 60s, Meena Kumari was at the peak of her career which caused tensions between the couple & ultimately led to a mutual separation in March 1964. Pakeezah got shelved. In March 1969, the film was revived with an ill Meena Kumari,(due to her alcoholism) in the lead.Raaj Kumar was roped in as by that time Ashok Kumar-the original lead was too old to portray 'Salim Ahmed Khan', the hero of the film.Pakeezah released on 4th February 1972, 16 years after it first began. Unfortunately, it was considered as a weak film by the critics & audience & was declared a flop but it was Meena Kumari's untimely death on 31st March 1972 which acted as a push for the movie & made it one among the top grossers of that year. Amrohi died on 11 February 1993 in Mumbai, twenty years after his wife's death [10] & ten years after making his last film, Razia Sultan (1983). He was buried next to Meena Kumari in Rehmatabad Qabristan, an Iranian graveyard in Mumbai.

Kamal Amrohi had three children with Mehmoodie: two sons, Shandaar and Taajdaar, both of whom worked with him in Razia Sultan (1983),[11] and a daughter, Rukhsar Amrohi.[7]He had no children with Meena Kumari. Shandaar died on 21 August 2011 in Goa. He was survived by his wives, Shahida Amrohi & Khursheed Naqvi Amrohi. He was laid to rest in Mumbai the following day. Amrohi's grandsons Mashhoor Amrohi and Bilal Amrohi are also actors.[citation needed]


  • Jailor (1938) – story
  • Chalia (1938) – dialogue
  • Pukar 1939 – dialogue
  • Main Hari (1940) – dialogue
  • Bharosa (1940) – writer
  • Mazaaq (1943) – dialogue
  • Phool (1945) – dialogue
  • Shahjehan (1946) – writer
  • Mahal (1949) – writer, director
  • Daera 1953 as a writer, director, producer
  • Us Raat Ki Yaadein (1954)
  • Ghutan – Meena Kumari, Dilip Kumar (1955)
  • Mughal-e-Azam (1960) – Dialogue
  • Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai 1960 Producer only (was written and Directed by: Kishore Sahu)
  • Pakeezah ( 1972) – writer, director, producer
  • Shankar Hussain (1977) – dialogue
  • Majnoon (1979) – writer, director (incomplete)
  • Razia Sultan (1983) – writer, director


1998 Such a Long Journey (writer: "Thare rahiyo")



  1. ^ Century of Films, Guardian Unlimited, Derek Malcolm, Thursday 5 August 1999.
  2. ^ a b Writer, Poet and Director Profile at webindia123.
  3. ^ Mahal Review at upperstall.
  4. ^ Sidharth Bhatia (4 May 2013). "Producer Kamal Amrohi was the master of old-world elegance and heartache". livemint.com. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  5. ^ I began my career at Natraj: Javed Akhtar Hindustan Times, 16 March 2007.
  6. ^ "Buildings in place of Kamalistan Studios: buyer from city". 22 October 2010. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c "Kamalistan sold to 3 builders for Rs 200 cr". 20 October 2010. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  8. ^ "Leisure: Checking in". Pune Mirror. 18 April 2013. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  9. ^ "Salman Khan takes over Kamalistan". The Times of India. 9 March 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  10. ^ YouTube Kamaal Amrohi's death.
  11. ^ Kamal Amrohi on Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]