A English Film Journalist and Film Director
Muhammad Shafi Dar commonly known as M.S. Dar was one of those journalists who are not only the pioneers of film journalism in Lahore but they have given it more strength and introduced the Lahore based film production to the rest of Sub-continent. Likewise the films, journalism published from Punjab was also popular for its simplicity, positive criticism and beautiful comprehensive introductions and interviews of the showbiz world. It would be taken as proudly that at that time there were more than then ten film magazines used to publish from Lahore in English which is a clear indicator that the educated and literate segment of the society was also behind the making of films and used to patronize / boost the film journalism.
Mian Ghulam Hussain Dar residnet of village Ehedi Pur of District Sialkot was blessed with son in 1904, he named his son as Muhammad Shafi Dar (M.S. Dar). At the age of five, Muhammad Shafi Dar was admitted in Qila Kalro Wala from where after passing his primary education, he was sent to Lahore where he got admission in Islamia High School Sheranwala Gate Lahore and passed his matriculation examination. In 1925, he completed his graduation from Islamia College Lahore.
After graduation he joined North Western Railway as was employed as railway guard. and soon he got a good grip over his basic trade but basically he had a creative mind and spending some time he felt that this employment was not at all suitable to his nature so at the very early years of his service he diverted into films journalism and finally resigned from railways and started writing articles for different magazines.
Career as Journalist
After continuously writing especially in film magazines of sub-continent when he thought that his pen and working environments were strengthen enough to take on solo assignment of publishing a magazine independently so in 1937, he issued and published his own English film magazine “Movie Flash” from Lahore and due to his experience and hard work soon this magazine was successful in achieving the attention of a majority of film gores. Upon the success of Movie Flash, encouraged Dar issued another film magazine named “Film Pictorial” in 1942.
Magazines being published in English language, educated and intellectual minds of the society used to write for his magazines which not only enhanced its popularity within Lahore and this part of the sub-content but these used to be well taken in rest of the country and other cities like Bombay, Dehli and Calcutta, Madras etc. The other best advantage and outcome of these magazines was that its writers subsequently became a popular film writers and directors of sub-continent which included Krishan Kumar, Syed Attaullah Shah Hashmi, B. R. Obroy, Zia Sarhadi, Ramanand Sagar, Saadat Hussain Manto and B. R. Chopra including M.S. Dar himself.
During that period with publication of magazine, M.S. Dar used to suggest and give his recommendations to the film directors and producers for better treatment of their stories and film sequence. Amongst those A. R. Kardar was also the film director with whom M.S. Dar was very close so once Kardar was making a film Shah Jahan M.S. Dar also worked with him as Kardar’s PRO. He used to give him suggestions and assist him in his film productions matters. It was M.S. Dar who finalized the work agreement in between Ragni, M. D. Kanwar and A. R. Kardar. Kardar had a strong believe and trust on M.S. Dar so once he shifted to Bambay, M.S. Dar sent Mustafa an artist from Lahore to Bombay who was not only welcomed by Kardar but he extended his all out assistance, afterward Mustafa proved his worth by making film posters and other publicity material fully compatible with other leading artists of India. Accordingly, whenever Dar used to go to Bombay he was always welcomed by A. R. Kardar and he used to be his host during his entire tour and likewise M.S. Dar used to entertain Kardar whenever he came from Bombay to Lahore. Their friendship was very strong that remained till the end of their lives. M.S. Dar learnt a lot from Kardar especially in the field of film direction.
As Film Director
At that time M.S. Dar was wise and mature enough to undertake any film project as film director. Moreover after the independence of Pakistan he realized that all-out possible efforts had to be made for a sound foundation of Pakistan film industry so that in coming times it should stand on its feet confidently. As a first step, maximum educated and intellectual minds must be encouraged to entered into the field of film making. In 1950, Mian Aslam who married to actress Ragni and both of them made a film production house with name of Ragni Art Concern and started new film projects. Mian Aslam was very well familiar with M.S. Dar and was confident that he could take on the task as film producer of their new film. He discussed it with M.S. Dar who after some formalities agreed upon to take this challenge. On the other hand M.S. Dar was also mentally poised so in 1950 he started his first project Kundan as film director which was produced under the same banner of Ragni Art Concern. On release this film did average business but gave a lot of confidence and more maturity as film director which was very evidently visible in his next film assignment. Agha G. A. Gul also picked up his quality and negotiated with M.S. Dar for his forthcoming film project named Dhulla Bhatti. M.S. Dar was almost over joyed and gladly accepted the offer. Before taking the project physically he carried out lot of preparations and homework and once he was satisfied he started off with the film. Sabiha Khanum and Santosh Kumar were in the lead roles of Dulla Bhatti also delivered their best entirely as per the desired of their film director. Finally this chemistry worked out and the result of M.S. Dar’s hard work was up to the mark as once the film was released on January 6, 1956. The film was declared as super hit film and where it gave a lot of financial benefit to Agha G. A. Gul. From business point of view it achieved the heights, it is to be said that Agha G.A.Gul had purchased fifty acres of land and inaugurated Evernew Studios out of the income of Dulla Bhatti. At the same time studio of Muslim Town was renamed as Old Evernew Studios. It also furnished a huge boost to M.S. Dar as film director. Subsequently, he also directed Sumera and Lara Lapa films but due to many reasons these films did an average business. At last in 1957, he directed Sardar which was produced by Sami Dehlvi and after the release of this film M.S. Dar resigned from the film direction. It is interesting that although he had taken another field of film direction but he kept on publishing his English magazine regularly. Basically he was very sincere and sober human being so every time his office located at 8-McLeod road used to fill with his friends and needy person to whom he used to extend his maximum assistance up to the last limit.
A world about his family, M.S. Dar got married with Nawab Begum in 1932 and blessed with four sons and one daughter including Aslam Dar, Saleem Dar, Saeed Dar and Waheed Dar. Renowned film director Aslam Dar was born at Ferozwala, District Gujranwala in 1936 and he is one of the everlasting personalities of Pakistan filmdom. He started his career as film cameraman which was subsequently turned into a film director and producer and due to his dedication he reached on the heights of his career Read more about Aslam Dar here. Waheed Dar is also a film director whereas Saeed Dar he was a professional cinematographer. Another renowned film journalist Tufail Dar was younger brother of Tufail Dar who was running a printing press with name of Dar Printing Press, after the death Tufail’s son Iqbal Dar was maintaining the business of press which was all-time available to film journalist to meet their publishing requirements.
Demise of the Great Journalist
On May 9, 1983, M.S. Dar died at Lahore and with his demise a shining chapter film journalism was closed along with the publishing of his English magazine was also terminated forever.
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