Zahir Raihan

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Zahir Raihan
জহির রায়হান
Zahir Raihan (1935–1972).jpg
Born(1935-08-19)19 August 1935
Disappeared30 January 1972 (aged 36)
StatusPresumed death
Alma materUniversity of Dhaka
  • Filmmaker
  • novelist
  • writer
Notable work
Stop Genocide
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, Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen,and Tapan Sinha . 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)
  • Shomoyer 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 Foundation)
  • 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)
Documentary films
  • Stop Genocide[10]
  • A State is Born
  • Liberation Fighters (Production)
  • Innocent Millions (Production)



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Author Mushtaq Gazdar attributes Agun Niye Khela to director Nurul Haq. Recollections in some present day news articles say it was jointly directed by Nurul Haque Bacchu and Amzad Hossain.[18][19] In contrast, some present day news articles say it was directed by Zahir Raihan or was his film.[20][21]



  1. ^ Khan 2012
  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 Ferdous, Fahmim (19 February 2013). "Zahir Raihan: Capturing national struggles on celluloid". The Daily Star. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  11. ^ Gazdar 1997, p. 250
  12. ^ Gazdar 1997, p. 251
  13. ^ a b Gazdar 1997, p. 252
  14. ^ a b Gazdar 1997, p. 253
  15. ^ a b Gazdar 1997, p. 254
  16. ^ a b Gazdar 1997, p. 257
  17. ^ a b Gazdar 1997, p. 259
  18. ^ "It's a special day for Sabina Yasmin Sunday". The Independent. Dhaka. 4 September 2016.
  19. ^ "Sabina pays tribute to Altaf Mahmud". New Age. 12 June 2017.
  20. ^ "Lifetime Achievement Award Winners!". The Daily Star. 28 October 2017.
  21. ^ Hasan, Rakib (31 January 2020). "Zahir Raihan made significant contribution to Bengali literature: speakers". New Age.
  22. ^ a b Gazdar 1997, p. 262
  23. ^ a b Gazdar 1997, p. 266
  24. ^ a b Gazdar 1997, p. 268
  25. ^ Hoek 2014, p. 105: "Nadeem and Bobita ... in the Urdu film Jaltey Suraj Ke Neeche ... Directed by Zahir Raihan (though in places credited to his assistant director Nurul Hoque)."
  26. ^ Raju 2002, p. 12: "After Glimpses from Life [Jibon Theke Neya], Zahir Raihan embarked on ... Let There Be Light ... but before the film was over, the 1971 Liberation War broke out and Zahir had to postpone the project, as it turned our later, forever."
  27. ^ Gazdar 1997, p. 265


External links[edit]