Khwaja Abbas


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Khwaja Abbas (India, 1914), a Muslim, debuted with the influential social-realist Hindi film Dharti Ke Lal/ Children of the Earth (1946), about the Bengali famine of 1943, scripted by himself from plays by Bijon Bhattacharya and the first film scored by Ravi Shankar. In the same year he scripted V Shantaram's Dr Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani/ The Eternal Tale of Dr Kotnis (1946) and Chetan Anand's Neecha Nagar/ Lowly City (1946), both important films of the social movement. A political writer since 1935, during the 1940s he also carried out agit-prop activities, both dramas and ballets performed by itinerant troupes. After Aaj Aur Kal (1947) there was a hiatus of a few years. He started working as screenwriter (still in Hindi) for Raj Kapoor with Awaara (1951). He then directed Rahi (1952), Anhonee (1952) and Munna (1954), the second song-less movie of India, before scripting Raj Kapoor's Shree 420 (1955). He co-directed with Vasili Pronin Pardesi/ Foreigner (1957), a film also made in a Russian version titled Khozhdenie za Tri Morya/ Journey Beyond Three Seas, scored by Anil Biswas and featuring the actress and dancer Padmini Ramachandran, who had been made famous by Uday Shankar's Kalpana/ Imagination (1948) and was mainly active in Tamil cinema. He then directed Char Dil Char Rahen (1959), Gyara Hazar Ladkian (1962), Shehar Aur Sapna (1963), Hamara Ghar (1964), Aasman Mahal (1965), Bambai Raat Ki Bahon Mein (1967), Saat Hindustani/ Seven Indians (1969), the film that introduced future star Amitabh Bachchan, Do Boond Pani (1971), Faslah (1974), The Naxalites (1980) and Ek Aadmi (1988). Later collaborations with Raj Kapoor include Mera Naam Joker (1970), Bobby (1973) and Henna (1991). Abbas also scripted Achanak/ Suddenly (1973) for Urdu poet Gulzar (born Sampooran Singh Kalra), who had become a filmmaker two years earlier, previously known as the lyricist for songs composed by Sachin Dev Burman.

He died in 1987.

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