Zahir Raihan

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Zahir Raihan
Zahir Raihan (1935–1972).jpg
Native name জহির রায়হান
Born Mohammad Zahirullah
(1935-08-19)19 August 1935
Feni, Noakhali, British India (present-day Bangladesh)
Occupation Filmmaker, novelist, writer
Nationality Bangladeshi
Education BA (Bengali)
Alma mater Dhaka University
Notable awards Bangla Academy Award (1972)
Spouse Sumita Devi (1961–1968)
Shuchonda (1968–1971)
Relatives Shahidullah Kaiser (brother)
Disappeared January 30, 1972 (aged 36)
Status Presumed dead

Zahir Raihan (19 August 1935 – 30 January 1972) was a Bangladeshi novelist, writer and filmmaker. He is perhaps best known for his documentary Stop Genocide, made during the Bangladesh Liberation War.

Early life and education[edit]

Zahir Raihan was born on 19 August 1935, as Mohammad Zahirullah, in the village Majupur, now in Feni District, Bangladesh.[1] After the Partition of Bengal in 1947, he, along with his parents, returned to his village from Calcutta. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Bengali from Dhaka University.

Professional career[edit]

Zahir Raihan received his post graduate degree in Bengali Literature. Along with literary works, Raihan started working as a journalist when he joined Juger Alo in 1950. Later he also worked in newspapers, namely Khapchhara, Jantrik, and Cinema. He also worked as the editor of Probaho in 1956.[2] His first collection of short stories, titled Suryagrahan, was published in 1955. He worked as an assistant on the film Jago Huya Sabera in 1957. This was his first direct involvement in film. He also assisted Salahuddin in the film Je Nodi Morupothay. The filmmaker Ehtesham also employed him on his movie A Desh Tomar Amar, for which he wrote the title song. In 1960 he made his directorial début with his film Kokhono Asheni, which was released in 1961. In 1964, he made Pakistan's first colour movie, Sangam, and completed his first CinemaScope movie, Bahana, the following year.

He was an active supporter of the Language Movement of 1952 and was present at the historical meeting of Amtala on 21 February 1952. The effect of the Language Movement was so strong on him that he used it as the premise of his landmark film "Jibon Theke Neya". He also took part in the "Gano Obhyuthyan" in 1969. In 1971 he joined in the Liberation War of Bangladesh and created documentary films on the subject.[3] During the war of liberation Raihan went to Calcutta, where his film "Jibon Theke Neya" was shown. His film was highly acclaimed by Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Tapan Sinha and Ritwik Ghatak. Though he was in financial difficulties at the time, he gave all his money from the Calcutta showing to the Freedom Fighters trust.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Raihan had been married twice, to Sumita Devi in 1961 and Shuchonda in 1968, both of whom were film actresses. With Sumita he had two son, Bipul Raihan and Anol Raihan .He,with Shuchonda, had another son named Topu Raihan.[5]


Raihan disappeared on 30 January 1972 trying to locate his brother, the famous writer Shahidullah Kaiser, who was captured and killed by the Pakistan army and/or local collaborators during the final days of the liberation war.[6] It is believed that he was killed with many others when armed Bihari collaborators and soldiers of the Pakistan Army who were hiding fired on them when they went to Mirpur, a suburb of the capital city of Dhaka that was one of few strongholds for Pakistani/Bihari collaborators at that time.[6]



  • Sesh Bikeler Meye ( A Girl in the Late-Afternoon)
  • Trishna (Thirst)
  • Hajar Bochhor Dhore (For Thousand Years)
  • Arek Falgun (Different Spring)
  • Borof Gola Nodi (River of Melted Ice)
  • Ar Koto Din (How Many More Days)
  • Koekti Mrittu (A Few Deaths)
  • Ekushey February (21 February)

Short stories[edit]

  • Sonar horin (The golden deer)
  • Somoyer proyojone (For the need of time)
  • Ekti jiggasa (One question)
  • Harano boloy (The lost ring)
  • Badh (The protest)
  • Surjagrohon (The Solar Eclipse)
  • Noya potton (The new foundation)
  • Mohamrittu (The great death)
  • Vangachora (The broken)
  • Oporadh (The crime)
  • Shikriti (The congratulations)
  • Oti porichito (Very familiar)
  • Ichha onichha (Wish or no wish)
  • Jonmantor
  • Poster
  • Ichhar agune jolchhi (Burnt in the fire of wish)
  • Kotogulo kukurer artonad (Bark of some dogs)
  • Koekti songlap (Some dialogues)
  • Demag (Pride)
  • Massacre
  • Ekusher golpo (Story of 21 February)


Movies and Documentaries Directed[edit]

  • Kokhono Asheni, 1961 (his first film as director)[6]
  • Sonar Kajol, 1962 (jointly directed with Kolim Sharafi)[6]
  • Kancher Deyal, 1963[6]
  • Sangam, 1964 (the first colour film made in Pakistan)
  • Bahana, 1965
  • Behula, 1966[6]
  • Anowara, 1966[6]
  • Jibon Theke Neya, 1970[6]
  • Let There Be Light
  • Jalte Suraj Ke Niche 1971

Documentary films[edit]

  • Stop Genocide, Documentary on the genocide by Pakistani Army in the Bangladesh Liberation War, 1971[6]
  • A State is Born
  • Liberation Fighters(Production)
  • Innocent Millions(Production)

Movies Produced[edit]

Followings movies were produced by Raihan and directed by his assistants

  • Dui Bhai, 1968
  • Shuorani Duorani, 1968
  • bairagi, 1967


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Profiles of martyred intellectuals". The Daily Star (Bangladesh). Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  2. ^ Sun, The Daily. "Zahir Raihan: Recalling an Intellectual". Zahir Raihan: Recalling an Intellectual | Retrieved 2017-06-14. 
  3. ^ The Daily Prothom Alo,17 August 2006
  4. ^ "Akhono Obohelito Zahir Raihan" Hossain, Amzad. The Daily Prothom Alo, 17 August 2006
  5. ^ "বিপুল রায়হান গুরুতর অসুস্থ:প্রধানমন্ত্রীর সহায়তা কামনা". Prothom-Alo. 12 March 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ferdous, Fahmim (19 February 2013). "Zahir Raihan: Capturing national struggles on celluloid". The Daily Star. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 

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