Muhammad Ali, an exemplary actor of Pakistan filmdom, gracefulness, delicacy, loyalty, compassions, honesty, modesty, humbleness and allegiance were the glaring aspect of his dynamic personality. A true specimen of a masculine persona who led an exemplary life in all spheres of life, either it was as an artist, patriotic Pakistani, responsible citizen, social worker in service to mankind or in personal life as husband, father or colleague.
Who so ever once met Muhammad Ali in any capacity it was impossible to bar himself from the mystic and numinous touché of his persona or ever disenchanted. Ali was a film actor with full of mannerisms and legendary example for his followers, never indulged himself both on and off screen in any scandals or any finger pointing and outrage activities. His existence as a film actor, patronage of social work will intensely be missed and vaccum generated by his expiration perhaps will never be filled.
On direction of religious saint, Hazrat Majaddad Alif Sani ancestors of Molana Syed Murshid Ali moved from Ghazni (Afghanistan) and settled down at Rampur (India). Like his predecessors Molana Murshid Ali continued their mission and involved himself in teaching/service of Islam. In 19th April 1931, after a son and two daughter s his fourth child was born and keeping in view the great affection which he had for Sadat family he named his son Muhammad Ali. Being the youngest and heavy built with white and pink complexion he became the blue eyed baby of whole family that’s why he was addressed as Munna. During his childhood he lost his mother so was looked after by his elder sisters.
Being a scholar of Islam his father groomed him with Islamic rituals and taught young Muhammad Ali the basics of Urdu, Arabic and Persian literature, instead sending him to schools. Subsequently when his family moved to Rohtak (India) he joined schools for primary education. After partition of Sub-continent in 1947, Muhammad Ali migrated with his family to Hyderabad (Sindh, Pakistan) but soon after they again moved to Multan where young Ali was admitted in 7th class and due to his promising intellect he was promoted to 9th class.
In 1954, Muhammad Ali passed his matriculation examination from Millat High School Multan, his matric Roll Number was 11647. According to his teacher Mr. Mirza Mussarat Baig, Ali was very brilliant student who always used to take part in debate and declamation competitions very enthusiastically. Other than this he had the nag of acting and artistic imagination but our school didn’t have the dramatic club so his lust for acting was not fulfilled. He added that although Muhammad Ali belonged to a humble family background but Almighty had given him a very large heart as he used to share all of his pocket money to his class fellows and subsequent this habit remained in his personality throughout his life. After matriculation once again he moved back with his family to Hyderabad and permanently settled here near Firdos Cinema. He completed his graduation from City College Hyderabad.
Start of Career
Muhammad Ali’s family was hardly meeting both the ends so soon after graduation he looked upon for some earning slots. He was having aptitude of creative art, acting more over had good bass vocals so naturally had inclination towards performing art. Syed Irshad Ali the elder brother of Muhammad Ali was employed in Radio Pakistan Hyderabad, therefore in 1956, with the help of Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari (Z.A. Bukhari) who also recognized the hidden artist of Ali, Muhammad Ali was employed in Radio Hyderabad as a broadcaster.
Muhammad Ali’s Facts…
There he performed in Radio dramas for children at the salary of rupees ten for each performance. Simultaneously he also joined theater to further enhance and polish his performing attributions. In this process young Mustafa Qureshi was also struggling with Muhammad Ali side by side. Keeping in view his talent and devotion he was subsequently transferred to Radio Pakistan Bahawalpur. But it proved a very short duration as the Mr. Z. A. Bukhari the Director of Radio Pakistan Karachi got him posted there at Karachi. Under the supervision of Z.A. Bukhari, Muhammad Ali was further polished in performing field. Z.A. Bukhari introduced him to the silver screen and Muhammad Ali gave his debut film performance as a western club singer in Aankh Aur Khon which was directed by Qamar Zaidi, likewise Kamal Irani also started his film career in this film but unfortunately this film was never released though it was completed in all respect.
Two brothers, Sibtain Ahmed Kareem Fazli and Hasnain Ahmed Kareem Fazli, earned a good name by making social films during pre-partition era. There third brother, Mr. Fazal Ahmed Kareem Fazli, an ICS Officer of Govt. of India who was also a renowned poet/ writer. After retirement he started his own film production house with the name of Dabistan -e- Mahdood and started a new film named Shakir with new cast.
He himself directed, written and produced this film, initially decided to take Kamal as hero but as the heroine of film Zeba was new so he changed his mind and casted Arif as hero who was an officer in Advertising Committee. Afterward this film proved the first and last film of Arif primarily due to the dynamic personality of the villain of film Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali who was initially hired on monthly wages as Assistant to director for rehearsals and dialogue delivery, later on after watching his performance Fazal Ahmed Kareem Fazli included him as villain of the film. On completion Fazli changed the name of film from Shakir to Chiragh Jalta Raha after consultation with his colleagues. Fazli made all out efforts to gave this move with a classic touch, selected best lyrics of famous renowned poets and singers like Indian singer Talat Mahmood also sang a song for this film. During censer process the film was viewed by President of Pakistan and he appreciated the efforts of Fazli. More so on release, Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah did grace the ceremony to inaugurate the film at Nishat cinemar. After this much efforts and publicity though film didn’t work at box office but gave some legends to Pakistan film industry and above of all was Muhammad Ali.
After his recognition as villain in Chiragh Jalta Raha, he was engaged as villain or in negative roles in his coming films like Iqbal Yusuf’s Dal Mein Kala and Javed Hashmi’s Dil Ne Tujhe Maan Liya. His first film as a solo hero released in 1963 which was directed by Rafiq Rizvi it was Shararat. Here it is worth mentioning that song Ae dil tujhe abb unn se ye kaisi shikayat hai sung by renowned singer Masood Rana in film sharat was the first song which was picturised on Muhammad Ali and surprisingly the last song which was shot on Muhammad Ali was also sung by Masood Rana for film Raja Rani, the song was Andher nagri chopat raja. In 1964 his role as rebel in Jameel Akhtar’s Khamosh Raho where Ahmed Rushdi’s song Main Nahin Manta was banned by the Ayub Khan regime because of late Habib Jalib’s lyrics gave a strong boost to film career of Muhammad Alim which led to a long, successful journey for him as the hero for innumerable super hit movies. Later, he moved to Lahore and performed in Khandan (1964).
Consequent to this film Muhammad Ali never looked back because he gave a better to best characterization after and the other. Especially post release of Kaneez, his popularity graph never declined throughout his career as he started to ease into every genre of acting including playing many number of characters. Being a docile, sober, mature and loving in nature whenever we see him in any getup either it is of dacoit, wrangler, street vagabond, or as suspicious doctor in Khursheed Anwar’s suspense-thriller Humraaz, a heart-broken younger brother in S. Suleman’s Lori, a dacoit in Humayun Mirza’s Aag Ka Darya, a hilarious servant in Naukar, a Romeo with two Juliets in S. Suleman’s Jaisay Jaante Nahin and Aag, a self-accused thief in Wazir Ali’s Aapka Khadim, a selfless friend in Iqbal Shahzad’s Baazi, Farhad in Sharif Nayyar’s Shireen Farhad, a gangster in Iqbal Yusuf’s Ghairao, a loving elder brother and a devoted father in countless movies, his actual nature was clearly visible from all of his characterization.
It was his dynamic personality that he was not considered fit to any of the single actresses rather he acted with almost every gorgeous leading heroines throughout his film career which includes Deeba, Shamim Ara, Rani, Aasia, Shabnam, Nisho, Sangeeta, Babra Sharif, Mumtaz, and his above of all his real pair was very well fantasies with Zeba. As both of them started their film career together in 1962 with Chiragh Jalta Raha and afterward they were married too so it continued till 1989, during this period they worked in sixty eight (68) films.
Marriage – Ali-Zaib
Initially Muhammad Ali was inclined towards a leading actress of Pakistan and then with Iranian actress Shehpara but due to some obvious reasons it did not work out. Afterward he felt attraction towards his debut co-artist Zeba with whom he had gave some box office hit films and audience started welcoming their pair in films. On the other hand Zeba had already married twice with Mr. Abdul-Samad and then everlasting actor Sudhir and also had daughter Samina with her. Keeping in view the gentle, longing and sober nature of Muhammad Ali she was also attracted and responded positively to his love and subsequent marrying proposal. Finally during the shooting of Iqbal Yousuf ‘s Tum Miley Piyar Mila Muhammad Ali married Zeba on September 29, 1966 in the house of actor Azad located at Nazimabad Karachi. Nikah was led by Syed Ihtisham as Nikah khawan and Rs. 37500 were fixed as Haq Mehar. Just after their marriage, Ali-Zaib went to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj.
Here it is worth reading that Ali-Zaib were not blessed with any child and Muhammad Ali being a generous gentleman owned Samina the ex-daughter of Zeba by adding her name as Samina Ali. More so this wedding proved to be a successful exemplary marriage of the film industry, rather it was respected and Zeba was taken and addressed as esteemed figure of Bhabhi then onward by all from every walks of life. This marriage not only brought a great success to the professional career of both of them which they started in 1962 and lasted in 1989 but it also strengthen the bondage in between them which was reflected in Zeb Mehel, at 26-G, Gulberg 111, Lahore or resulted as Ali Zeb Production and Ali Zeb Foundation .
Political and Social Activities
As being the national figure, Muhammad Ali was very actively involved in political affairs primarily for the betterment of country, common man and performing art specifically. He cranked number of social works under their political patronage.
- His attachment towards country was clearly visible once he dressed a black outfit during International Moscow Film Festival as protest against India for holding ninety three thousands POW (prisoners of war) on termination of 1971 Indo-Pak war.
- To raise funds for the Palestinian movement his efforts are unforgettable.
- Muhammad Ali had resilient attachment for ex-Prime Minister Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his political party, because of the party’s policies. During International Islamic conference which was held in Lahore in 1974, many dignitaries of different countries stayed at Muhammad Ali’s residence which includes Late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. After his decline he still maintained strong ties with Bhutto even Muhammad Ali was arrested and placed behind bars for some months in President Zia’s regime.
- As a result of his affection with Pakistan People Party and its support his movies were placed under boycott in Karachi for some time.
- During Nawaz Sharif’s regime, services of Muhammad Ali were hired as Cultural Advisor to the government for furtherance of film community.
Since Muhammad Ali had very generous approach towards needy persons so Ali Zaib established a foundation meant for Blood Transfusion Services in 1995. It is a registered charitable organization engaged in rendering services to the ailing community suffering from Thalassemia, Hemophilia and also Blood Cancer. The organization provide them blood and blood products, screened of all fatal diseases like Hepatitis “B”, “C”, “HIV” and Malaria, without charges. It also provide fully screened blood and blood products to the government and private hospitals on exchange basis. It was a Non-Profit Charitable Organization that is a symbol of hope for millions of blood disease carriers in Pakistan. Starting with a small Centre and a handful of volunteers, Ali Zaib Blood Transfusion Services has grown into the largest organization of its kind, staffed by a professional team of physicians and trained workers. Today over 11,500 patients receive first class services through its state of the art medical equipment. It was established with aim:
- To ensure a regular supply of healthy blood for such patients, Ali Zaib Blood Transfusion Services needs your whole hearted support.
- To provide first class quality blood banking and hematological services safely & competitively to desreving patients and the community at large.
- To ensure the use of FDA approved high quality material and equipment for the treatment of Thalassemia, Hemophilia and other genetic blood disorders.
After 1995 short period of three years, Ali Zaib Foundation established another Thalassemia, Hemophilia center in Sargodha in 1998 and also again within five years one more Thalassemia & Hemophilia center in 2003 at Sahiwal. Ali Zaib Foundation today through its centers in Faisalabad, Sargodha and Sahiwal transfuses around 8000 pints of healthy, screened blood and blood products each month for its registered patients suffering from chronic and painful blood diseases.
Honors and Awards
Right from his first film Chiragh Jalta Raha, Muhammad Ali flourished to attract the attention of not only the common audience but he was picked by the film authorities resultantly was awarded with Screen Light Award for his first ever performance in the said film which he acted as villain. Then onward throughout his professional career he was awarded numerous honor and awards. This recognition was not only confirmed by the authorities of filmdom rather it was documented by at government level as well. Some of the details are as under:-
- Pride of Performance. President Zia ul Haq12 awarded Pride of Performance to Muhammad Ali in 1984 in recognition of his services to the entertainment industry.
- Tamgha-e-Imtiaz. Muhammad Ali was the only artist from filmdom who earned the gallantry award of Tamgha -e- Imtiaz in recognition to his social services to humanity.
- Noshad Award. He was also awarded Noshad Award of India.
- In 1974, during International Islamic conference held in Lahore, many dignitaries of different countries stayed at Muhammad Ali’s residence which includes Late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia and awarded Muhammad Ali with official treasures.
- President of Bangladesh General Irshad bequeathed him with Holy Quran.
- During his visits to India he was awarded with official protocol and honors.
Film Achievements and Awards
These are the list of awards which was awarded to Muhammad Ali during his film career:
Demise of Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali enjoyed a sound health until late 1977, when got some nephrology problem which occurred as outcome of diabetes. Initially went under operation for kidney in 1980. In 1998, he developed some heart problem which finally ended up his bypass surgery he got it done from United States.
In 2001 once again he suffered with kidney dysfunction and severe ulcer ailment, laterally he was placed on dialysis. On March 18, 2006 he went for his dialysis, the next day on March 19, 2006, at 11.00 a.m. he slipped down to floor due to cardiac arrest while moving for his bedroom lavatory. Zeba along with her servant, Abbas, supported Muhammad Ali to sit on a chair who was at that time almost unconscious. Soon after he recited Kalma and left this finite world forever.
Soon the news of his death was spread all over and people starting rushing toward his residence where he was living for last thirty years. His body was placed in a cold room as his step daughter Samina Ali was to come from United States of America.
So next morning at about 12:00pm his body was brought in at Ali-Zeb house through ambulance. As the house and complete road was flooded with people who wanted to see the face of their beloved hero/person. Here it is worth mentioning that people from every walk of life were presented there as Muhammad Ali used to own very charismatic personality in the world of filmdom at the sometime due to his social work he was very popular and loved by the people from every segment of society. Anyhow due to the crowd, family, relatives and wife of the legend hero were able to see the face of Muhammad Ali after lot of efforts.
At about 1:30, funeral was reached at mosque of Liberty Market and on repeated announcement made by Tariq Aziz and former hockey player Akhtar Rasool, finally Muhammad Ali’s funeral prayer was offered Which was attended by a large number of persons, it is said that after Sultan Rahi’s funeral it was a biggest funeral ever offered in Lahore after Ghazi Illamdin Shaheed. A large number of showbiz personalities also attended that funeral which included Youaf Khan, Mustafa Qureshi, Tariq Aziz, Akhtar Rasoo. Nadeem, Habib, Ghulam Mohiudin, Omer Sharif, Saud, Rambo, Ajab Gul, Asif Khan, Altaf Hussain, Jarar Rizvi, Masood Butt, Shahzad Gul, Jarar Rizvi, Shoukat Ali, Masood Akhatar, Ayaz Naik, Nisar Qadri, Farooq Memon, Muhammad Noor ul Hassan and many more from the film world. Initially it was decided that Muhammad Ali to be buried in the shrine of Sufi saint Mian Mir Sahib, Lahore but due to lake of grave space the family decided the burial at Gulberg Graveyard adjacent to his mother’s grave. But finally he was buried in the graveyard of Mian Mir at 4:3pm in the presence of hundreds of his lovers including Omer Sharif, Ghulam Mohiudin, Saud, Ajab Gul, Shafqat sCheema, Nadeem and Shahzad Gul.
May Allah Almighty bless the departed soul in eternal peace.
Muhammad Ali debut his film career in 1962 with Chiragh Jalta Raha, which was ended by himself in 1995 with the plea of pitiable standard and citing disappointment with the type of films which were being made at that period. During these 33 years of film career he performed in total 277 films, distribution under different headings and details please go to Filmography of Muhammad Ali.