Zahir Raihan

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Zahir Raihan
Zahir Raihan (1935–1972).jpg
Native name
জহির রায়হান
Born(1935-08-19)19 August 1935
Disappeared30 January 1972 (aged 36)
StatusPresumed death
EducationBA (Bengali)
Alma materUniversity of Dhaka
Notable work
Stop Genocide
  • Bipul
  • Anol
  • Tapu
  • Arafat
RelativesShahidullah Kaiser (brother)
Awardsfull list

Zahir Raihan (19 August 1935 – disappeared 30 January 1972) was a Bangladeshi novelist, writer and filmmaker. He is most notable for his documentary Stop Genocide (1971), made during the Bangladesh Liberation War.[1] He was posthumously awarded Ekushey Padak in 1977 and Independence Day Award in 1992 by the Government of Bangladesh.[2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Raihan was born Mohammad Zahirullah on 19 August 1935 in Majupur village, in the then Feni Mahakuma under Noakhali District.[4] After the Partition of Bengal in 1947, he, along with his parents, returned to his village from Calcutta. He obtained his bachelor's in Bengali from the University of Dhaka.

Professional career[edit]

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.[5] His first collection of short stories, titled Suryagrahan, was published in 1955. He worked as an assistant director on the Urdu film Jago Hua Savera in 1957.[6] This was his first direct involvement in film. He also assisted Salahuddin in the film Je Nadi Marupathe. The filmmaker Ehtesham also employed him on his film E 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 film, Sangam, and completed his first CinemaScope film, Bahana, the following year.

Raihan 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 1969 Mass uprising in East Pakistan. In 1971 he joined in the Liberation War of Bangladesh and created documentary films on the subject.[7] 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.[8]

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 sons, Bipul Raihan and Anol Raihan. He, with Shuchonda, had also two sons named Opu Raihan and Topu Raihan.[9]


Raihan disappeared on 30 January 1972 trying to locate his brother, a notable writer Shahidullah Kaiser, who was captured and killed by the Pakistan army and/or local collaborators during the final days of the liberation war.[10] 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.[10]



  • Shesh Bikeler Meye (A Girl in the Late-Afternoon)
  • Trishna (Thirst)
  • Hajar Bachhar Dhare (For Thousand Years)
  • Arek Phalgun (Another Spring)
  • Baraf Gala Nadi (River of Melted Ice)
  • Ar Kato Din (How Many More Days)
  • Kayekti Mrityu (A Few Deaths)
  • Ekushey February (21 February)

Short stories[edit]

  • Sonar Harin (The Golden Deer)
  • Samayer Prayojane (For the Need of Time)
  • Ekti Jigyasa (One Question)
  • Harano Balay (The Lost Ring)
  • Badh (The Protest)
  • Suryagrahan (The Solar Eclipse)
  • Naya Pattan (The New Founda (The Great Death)
  • Bhangachora (The Broken)
  • Aparadh (The Crime)
  • Swikriti (The Congratulations)
  • Ati Parichito (Very Familiar)
  • Ichchha Anichchha (Wish or No Wish)
  • Janmantar (Reincarnation)
  • Poster
  • Ichchhar Agune Jwalchhi (Burnt in the Fire of Wish)
  • Katogulo Kukurer Artanad (Bark of Some Dogs)
  • Kayekti Sanlap (Some Dialogues)
  • Demag (Pride)
  • Massacre
  • Ekusher Galpo (Story of 21)



Raihan at the set of the film Kokhono Asheni (1961)
  • Kokhono Asheni, 1961 (his first film as director)[10]
  • Sonar Kajol, 1962 (jointly directed with Kolim Sharafi)[10]
  • Kancher Deyal, 1963[10]
  • Sangam, 1964 (the first colour film made in Pakistan)
  • Bahana, 1965 (the cinemascope film made in Pakistan)
  • Behula, 1966[10]
  • Anowara, 1966[10]
  • Agun Niye Khela, 1967[11]
  • Jibon Theke Neya, 1970[10]
  • Let There Be Light
  • Jalte Suraj Ke Niche 1971
Documentary films
  • Stop Genocide[10]
  • A State is Born
  • Liberation Fighters(Production)
  • Innocent Millions(Production)


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


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Islam, Sirajul (2012). "Raihan, Zahir". In Islam, Sirajul; Khan, Abu (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  2. ^ "একুশে পদকপ্রাপ্ত সুধীবৃন্দ" [Ekushey Padak winners list] (in Bengali). Government of Bangladesh. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  3. ^ "Independence Day Award" (PDF). Government of Bangladesh. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Profiles of martyred intellectuals". The Daily Star. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
  5. ^ "Zahir Raihan: Recalling an Intellectual". The Daily Sun. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Zahir Raihan: The unparalleled legend". The Daily Star. 19 August 2019. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  7. ^ The Daily Prothom Alo,17 August 2006
  8. ^ "Akhono Obohelito Zahir Raihan" Hossain, Amzad. The Daily Prothom Alo, 17 August 2006
  9. ^ "বিপুল রায়হান গুরুতর অসুস্থ:প্রধানমন্ত্রীর সহায়তা কামনা". Prothom-Alo. 12 March 2015.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "Lifetime Achievement Award Winners!". The Daily Star. 28 October 2017.

External links[edit]