Chacha and one of the pioneers of Pakistan Film Industry
Ghulam Muhammad was one of the most popular and favorite film actors of Pre-partition era. He was the first Muslim actor from Lahore who achieved that height of reputation graph. Ghulam Muhammad was born in 1900 in Butt family of Lahore. He was in his teens when his father died so he had to quit his further education in primary to look after his family. He joined British Indian Army and moved from country to country during his service. When he posted there at Baghdad (Iraq) he performed in a army stage show within the garrison. As artist is born by birth so he diverted all his attention towards acting and stage plays. On his return to Lahore he proceeded to Madras for his affection with art and joined a stage drama company where he kept on playing the stage dramas and shows till end of 20s.
During that point of time silent cinema was also introduced but still stage drama was at its blossom. Silent film being new were attracting the attention of general public so to take part in the films he moved from Chennai (Madras) to Bombay in early 30s and started appearing as an extra in silent films. But after the release of talkies in 1932 it suppress the stage drama and silent films as well. With the downfall of silent films actors attached with it were also in difficulty as mostly they were not competent enough to deliver dialogues. But at the same time the artist and extra of silent films who were fluent in their dialogue delivery was the most beneficiary of talkie cinema. Since Ghulam Muhammad had very good grip over dialogue delivery with his acting ability so he was also lucky enough to made his place in cinema artist. In the start he uttered only a single line dialogues and was picked by the director and producer to be casted in Naik Ebla as villain.
In same year he joined Imperial Film Company as an artist which was basically a mediocre production company but after the release Alam Ara, first talkie film of sub-continent which was production of the same company, it became amongst the number one film production companies. Soon after joining the company Ghulam Muhammad debut his film career with film Mahduri which was directed by R. S. Choudhry and released in 1932. Gorgeous Salochana played against Ghulam Muhammad as lead role. Imperial Film Company hired him with the salary of rupees sixty per month and on its release. Mahduri was so clicked that Ghulam Muhammad became talk of the town with in a night it was all due to his dedication and best standard of performance. Soon there was long queue of films fit in his film career credentials. Accordingly he raised his salary up to rupees seven hundred and fifty per month that made him one of richest actors of that arena who possessed an automobile which used to be very rare instance at that time.
In 1937, again it was Imperial Film Company which released the first color film of sub-continent named Kisan Kanya, which was directed by Moti B. Gidvani and produced by Ardeshir Irani of Imperial Pictures. Saadat Hussan Panto penned screenplay of the film. Ghulam Muhammad played the role of Randhir a villain and rest of the cast included Jillo, Padmadevi, Nissar, Gani, Syed Ahmed. In Bombay it was inaugurated by Governor Bombay on January 8, 1937. And in Lahore this film was released in Palace cinema five weeks after the release of Bombay.
In 1939, he played the lead role of Sultan Salahudin Ayubi in Ghazi Salahudin. In next year again he played the lead role in first ever double version film Ali Baba which was directed by Mehboob Khan. Choudhry was his next film which was produced at Lahore and Noor Jahan was introduced in this film as Noor Jahan whereas she was appearing in films as Baby Noor Jahan. Khandan was the film in which Ghulam Muhammad played a pivotal role. Ghulam Muhammad performed the role of tough father of Dalip Kumar in film Jugnu which was released in 1947.
Other than the above mentioned films, before partition Ghulam Muhammad appeared in many films like Noorani Moti, Daku Ki Larki, Parai Aag, Shiren Farhad, Sabhagia, Sundri, Temple Bell, Aaj Kal, Sanober, Neya Zamana, Raat Ki Rani, Bombay Ki Billi, Ghualm Daku, Mehna Maya, Mother India, Pak Daman, Aik Din Ka Sultan, Hamjoli, Shan e Hind, Jag Kaisri, Wah Ri Duniya, Do Ortein, Gharib Ka Lal, Ali Baba, Chheen Le Azadi, Zamindar, Saniyasi, Dharam and Widhya.
Career after Partition in Pakistan
After partition he returned back to Lahore and appeared in Pakistan’s first film Teri Yaad. Afterward Ghulam Muhammad’s other films includes Mundri, Billo, Chan Way, Dopatta, Chan Mahi, Peengan, Baghi, Mehbooba, Toofan, Gumnam, Sardar, Saltanat, Intezar, Aaghosh, Waadah, Kartar Singh, Pattan, Dulla Bhatti, Naghma-e-Dil, Sassi, Daata, Naji, Perwarish, Mazloom, Hasrat, Paasban, Haqeeqat, Shimmi, Ghairat, Jhoomar and Koel. He played the role of dhobi who finds a baby girl in a wooden box and named her as Sassi.
The superstar of his own time Ghulam Muhammad after his retirement faced lot of financial constraints. But he was man of principal and self-esteemed so never asked for any financial or any other assistant.
Prior to his demise he was travelling on horse cart (Tanga) from his residence to the shrine of Sher Baba located at Mochi Darwaza Lahore when it met an accident with a motor car. Resultantly he broke his arm and sustained lot of injuries and was evacuated to Meo Hospital where he remained hospitalized for two weeks. After discharge though his injuries were hailed but his shoulder was not fully recovered.
Demise of the Artist
In March 1961, he was once again admitted in Meo-Hospital Lahore due to severe breathing problem but with passage of every day his health kept on deteriorating and was placed on oxygen ventilator. Finally he died on March 10, 1961.
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