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In Memoriam: There Was No One Like Waheed Murad

On 23rd November 1983, Pakistan’s film industry was dealt a huge blow, from which it hasn’t been able to recover. The country’s premier film star Waheed Murad died at the young age of 45, and with him ended a chapter that hasn’t been opened since. A chapter where youngsters got to know how to present themselves; where they were told that they can achieve anything, no matter what the odds were; where they could find out that there is more to romance than loving a girl; where they would be taught that a hero is one who gets the job done, not the one who wins the heart of the heroine.

Had Waheed Murad been alive today, he would have been 81 years old, doing something new, just like he did when he made his debut in the early 1960s and changed the way films were made in Pakistan. Let’s pay a tribute to the evergreen performer known as the ‘chocolate hero’ and see what made him better than the rest, and why he is still remembered 36 years after his death.

No one could perform like the guy

Before Waheed Murad burst on the scene, films in Pakistan were made for the elite audience. The heroes were middle-aged men, and even if someone young wanted to do something, he was either cast as a comedian or the usual sidekick role. Waheed Murad was the first one who managed to bring youngsters to cinemas because like them, he could dance at clubs, romance with the girl and above all, look good while doing so. Even though he played a tange wallah in his first film, Waheed’s action skyrocketed him to the top, and before you would know it, he was the number one choice for most directors.

No one had a better dressing sense than him

In the era predating Waheed Murad, heroes like Santosh Kumar, Darpan and others used to dress mostly in two-piece and three-piece suits for onscreen parties, going out and even when they were at home. Waheed Murad changed all that and donned the most modern wardrobe, according to the occasion. In Akele Na Jana from Armaan, Waheed Murad looks like someone from abroad when he is playing a rich guy from out of city; in Kokokorina he is dressed to party; in Dil Ko Jalana from Mohabbat Zindagi Hai he danced like a person nursing a broken heart but in his stylish clothes. That was Waheed Murad for you, he knew how to dress up for the occasion.

No one can still film a song better than him

Waheed Murad’s ascent was directly proportional to that of Ahmed Rushdi; the two were made for each other with the playback singer ensuring that his Waheed Murad songs sounded different than his non-Waheed Murad songs. His energy helped Waheed Murad give his best to the songs, and they became a team, so close that they both died in the same year. Be it Dil Tumko De Dia Hai or Raat Chali Hai Jhoom Ke, Kia Pata Zindagi Ka or Ban Ke Misra Ghazal Ka (their last song as a duo), they were a combination to die for. Other playback singers like Mehdi Hassan, A Nayyar, Ikhlaq Ahmed and Masood Rana also sang for Waheed Murad but the magic that was created by Waheed Murad – Ahmed Rushdi was something that comes once in fifty years.

No one can match Waheed Murad’s in boys and girls both

During the 1960s, Malika e Tarannum Noor Jehan was on top of her game; she was not just the most popular singer but also as a legendary actress, she was the undisputed king of Pakistani cinema. It is said that during one of her trips through Karachi’s famous M A Jinnah Road, she found the road on the opposite side blocked, and youngsters – mostly girls – surrounding a car and making a noise. Noor Jehan asked her driver to stop the car so that she can find out who the person was in that car and why was he being hounded by girls. It turned out that Waheed Murad was the driver of the car, and he couldn’t get out of the vehicle because of the crowd that was hovering over him. It is said that when Waheed Murad wanted to get out of the car to pay his respects to the legendary playback singer, Noor Jehan told him that she wanted to find out who was more popular than Noor Jehan in Pakistan, and gave the actor her blessings for a bright future.

 No one can claim to be better than him!

After Waheed Murad’s death, many actors tried to emulate him in Pakistan, and abroad but no one came close to being him. Even after 36 years, he remains the only chocolate hero from Pakistan whose dance moves are taught in acting schools, whose songs are still popular after 50 years and who was mentioned in Hollywood flick Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London. If that is not a testament to his popularity, then I don’t know what is. His legacy of over 120 Urdu films, countless super hit songs and millions of admirers around the world will continue to remember him for a long time, because Waheed Murad left his mark on the hearts and minds of his followers, which is a task not many can achieve in this Social Media era.

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