Quaid wanted ‘Mussalmans’ to enter film industry

Published: January 20, 2013
File photo of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

File photo of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

File photo of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE A scan of Quaid-i-Azam’s letter to Mohammad Masud. PHOTO: TUGHRAL YAMIN

Where successive Pakistani governments have subjected the country’s once prosperous film industry to official neglect, a recently discovered letter penned by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah reveals the country’s founder gave seminal importance to the industry.

“I am in receipt of your letter of December 30th 1944, and I wish more Mussalmans would enter into this realm of film industry, and I shall always be glad to do all I can to help it. I have noted that Mr Mahboob is producing a historical picture “Humayun”, and if I have an opportunity of seeing it I might be able to express my opinion about it, but generally I do wish that more Mussalmans would enter this line, as there is plenty of scope for them in the film industry,” reads the Quaid’s letter, dated January 6, 1945.

The type-written letter clearly bears his personal monogram and is neatly signed by his own hand.

The letter was written in response to a letter by Mohammad Masud, then a young political activist, who sought the Quaid’s opinion on the role of Indian Muslims in the sub-continent’s film industry.

Now in his 80s, Masud resides in Karachi with his grandchildren. While he has never been particularly talkative, many an eager ear has been mesmerised by his narration of pre-partition experiences. From his youth to his old age, Masud has also cultivated a penchant for writing letters to the country’s leaders, past and present. The Quaid was among the few who got back to him.

Pakistani film industry today is exemplified by mustachioed men with ‘gandasas’ staring down plus-sized women as they dance.

Cinemas themselves are dominated by Bollywood and Hollywood. The industry has been on the verge of demise ever since the separation of East Pakistan (and with it, its film industry), and the advent of the VCR.

The state, meanwhile, has had bigger concerns, leaving an industry, which once provided much revenue and was a means of promoting a ‘softer image’, in shambles. No government has tried to restore Pakistani cinema to its former glory – the state does not even acknowledge it as an industry. Similarly, little official attention has been given to film education – not a single state-funded film school exists in the country.

Quaid’s letter could not have been uncovered at a more apt time. It shows the level of enthusiasm a person who represented the entire Muslim population of India at the time possessed, even as he replied to someone as inconsequential as a young admirer – that too at a time when the entire region was embroiled in a crisis much graver than cultivating a film industry.

Masud still pens letters to the country’s present day leaders, often reminding them of their duty to the nation. Most never bother to reply. Only Jinnah had the courtesy and the vision to respond to each letter he received. One can only wish we could have another leader like that.

The author is the nephew of Mohammad Masud and a retired brigadier who teaches strategy at the National Defence University, Islamabad

Published in The Express Tribune, January 20th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (66)

  • kamran
    Jan 20, 2013 - 10:17AM

    wow ..the news very is good and historical,but i like the picture more
    “QUAID KHUD HI HERO HAI” every moment we thank ALLAH for giving us everything and then we thank you for giving us this land (note: but we messed it up big time ) fix up Pakistan.


  • Queen
    Jan 20, 2013 - 10:21AM

    The letter reflects Qaid-e-Azam’s progressive vision and his love for culture and art. Salute to the great leader.


  • Manju
    Jan 20, 2013 - 10:25AM

    What intrigues me most is the fact that 17 crore or so people need a documentary evidence from the maker of their nation to do or not do something… Now Mr. Jinnah survived only a small duration after the formation of Pakistan and so Pakistanis do not have enough statements from him to take a decision on everything they do…. God bless!!
    Pakistanis need a statement from the father of their nation take a decision on whether to become actors or not!?!? And so the state of affairs of Pakistan…


  • Awam
    Jan 20, 2013 - 10:37AM



  • Jan 20, 2013 - 10:38AM

    This is a very interesting and uplifting testament to the liberal nature and modern mentality of Pakistan’s founder. A welcome addition to the archives of ‘Jinnah studies’ indeed.


  • Aijaz Haider
    Jan 20, 2013 - 10:44AM

    “Only Jinnah had the courtesy and the vision to respond to each letter he received. One can only wish we could have another leader like that.” Ameen.


  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Jan 20, 2013 - 10:51AM

    If Q.A. was alive today he would have been a very happy person to see so many Mussalmans working in film industry. Not only working, most of the films, dramas, news, TV programs, discussions are about them.


  • Ali PTI
    Jan 20, 2013 - 11:01AM

    Cool guy, this Jinnah fellow.


  • Karachitie
    Jan 20, 2013 - 11:08AM

    he wanted muslims to work in files on muslim history like “Humyun” not like “chikni chambeli”


  • V
    Jan 20, 2013 - 11:13AM

    He also wished for Pakistan to be a secular state. Recommend

  • Indian
    Jan 20, 2013 - 11:20AM

    As an Indian I think this letter is very, very interesting in many ways. The film that Jinnah is referring to here is ‘Humayun’ by Mehboob Khan, 1945. Mehboob Khan would go on to direct Anmol Ghadi (1946) which starred Noor Jehan and Surendra. This is the film where Noor Jehan sang “Awaz De Kahan Hai”. Mehboob Khan did not move to Pakistan. He stayed in his — and Jinnah’s — city, Bombay. He went on to direct Mother India (1957) which is one of the greatest Indian films of all time and received an Academy Award nomination.

    But more importantly, this letter points us to the cruelty, social division, cultural division and needless human suffering caused by the religious division of India. Noor Jehan had to leave India. Now. as an Indian, I most certainly DO NOT want to reverse Partition. The Pakistani people believe in the two-nation theory. They believe in an Islamic state. Pakistan does not even permit its non-Muslim citizens to qualify for being its President or Prime Minister. Indians, on the other hand, believe in a secular state. These are differences can never be bridged.

    So, in the end, it’s up to Pakistanis (or, more accurately, Pakistani Sunni Punjabis, as the dominant demographic group) to question their history. The real question to ask is not whether the two-nation theory “works” or not — but whether it is moral or not. Are the core ideologies of Iqbal and Jinnah — the basis for the creation of Pakistan — relevant to any country, anywhere in the world, that wants to create a humane, tolerant, multicultural, progressive, inclusive state and society?


  • Mirza
    Jan 20, 2013 - 11:21AM

    Thank God our Quaid is not alive today otherwise he would be blown to pieces. By looking at the old pictures of Quaid, his sister and Begum Liaquat one can see how modern we were. That was our Quaid’s Pakistan not Gen Zia;s Pakistan.


  • Nawaz Sharif
    Jan 20, 2013 - 11:29AM

    Totally Irrelevant news.


  • slider
    Jan 20, 2013 - 11:33AM

    So incredibly sad to look back at what the Quaid had hoped for Pakistan and the larger Muslim world to become and what it has succumbed to today!


  • SoAndSo
    Jan 20, 2013 - 11:34AM

    Yes yes. Mr. Mehboob, the person mentioned in the letter, is probably the same gentleman responsible for making very well-received films like Mother India, Aan, Andaz etc. He also produced Anmol Ghadi/Gharhi which starred our very own Madam Noor Jehan.


  • Umair
    Jan 20, 2013 - 11:38AM

    Quaid was a liberal person!! he wanted a secular Pakistan and not the Pakistan in which we are living now


  • Ibrahim
    Jan 20, 2013 - 11:42AM

    This letter paper should be carbon dated to determine its validity and originality. The language of the author is somewhat different from what we know of the Quaid as well. There is unnecessary repetition in the letter.


  • Harshvardhan sharma
    Jan 20, 2013 - 12:05PM

    Oh they sure have gandasa in their lollywood, it’s a worldwide hit isn’t it?


  • Blithe
    Jan 20, 2013 - 12:05PM

    Not all that bleak.
    Our dramas are make a good revival.


  • Diggvijay Singh
    Jan 20, 2013 - 12:53PM

    MA Jinnah’s wish that more Indian Mussalmans should enter film industry has come true nonetheless in the form of Dilip Kumar, Waheeda, Nargis, Feroz Khan and now Shahrukh, Salman, Amir, Katrina, Saif Ali etc. in the present generation. There are dozens of song-composers, singers, directors and scriptwriters in Bollywood who are Muslims. It is dominated by Muslims in reality. It is because of their natural talent in the field of performing arts.
    The article shows that Jinnah ji was more into historical films or factual period dramas. He encouraged the production of ‘Humayun’. Had he been alive till 1960 like Pandit Nehru, he would have surely appreciated the legendary movie Mughal e Azam. That was a prototype clean movie with no sleaze or vulgarity needed to sell it. I believe Jinnah ji too might have disapproved of some of the movies being churned out of Bollywood these days whose focal selling point is objectification of women’s beauty and lustful stories of eloping girls across the border.


  • JJ
    Jan 20, 2013 - 12:58PM

    Our Film Industry NEGLECT by all Governments who rule in 65 yrs, and they not gave importance to QUAID’S MESSAGES So why we think they give importance to the film industry.


  • BlackJack
    Jan 20, 2013 - 1:06PM

    At the time when the letter was written and during the next decade, the industry already had a large number of muslims (most leading ladies of that time was muslim) Recommend

  • Harshvardhan sharma
    Jan 20, 2013 - 1:17PM

    Not to forget the world famous gandasa of lollywood


  • Rathore
    Jan 20, 2013 - 1:28PM

    Taliban would get mad on reading this


  • jawid
    Jan 20, 2013 - 2:05PM

    The great quaid was more of a centrist rather that a liberal or conservative


  • Imran Ahsan Mirza
    Jan 20, 2013 - 2:30PM

    He was the greatest leader of recent times of the Muslim world, in fact leading the largest Muslim population of all times. He had great vision for this country. The letter cleary indicates his fondness for history, knowledge and art. The film ‘Humayun’ must have all three aspects in it. Such an encouragement from an intellectual of the stature of Jinnah is very obvious, however, I doubt that he would have encouraged senseless and irrational love movies of latter day Pakistan. The current film industry is devoid of the idea of documentaries, the true reflection of culture, art, knowledge and indepth reflection of human values. I believe the Television dramas and modern media running on TV has progressed in a better direction and may take over film industry one day with its intellectual strengths. I wish Jinnah would have lived longer then this country would have been a very different place. It could be a modern first world country beacon of light to all Muslim countries and third world nations, alas, it did not happen…..


  • Khawaja
    Jan 20, 2013 - 2:40PM

    What difference does it make what Jinnah Sahab wanted a “musalmaan” to do?
    Are we going to follow Jinnahs version of a “musalmaan” or the Sunnah version?

    Was-Salam and regards.


  • aaaaa
    Jan 20, 2013 - 2:42PM

    Jinnah hoped to become an actor during his time in England. A letter from his father disapproving of this choice (as well as informing him of his mother’s death) finished such plans, and he took up politics instead, which he saw as quite similar. This letter is nice to have and a timely reminder of the aspects of Jinnah many don’t get to see, but it is in no way the revelation it is being reported as.


  • Amer
    Jan 20, 2013 - 3:05PM

    The letter should be authenticated first before we even start talking about anything written in it.


  • aziz
    Jan 20, 2013 - 4:05PM


    Income from acting in movies is Haraam. This is because of photography which is the main component of movies. In Islam, photography of animate objects is a major sin. Besides photography, there are other sins also involved, e.g. intermingling of sexes, music, fiction, idle pursuit, gossip, etc.


  • Hassan (Kerala, India)
    Jan 20, 2013 - 4:27PM

    “It shows the level of enthusiasm a person who represented the entire Muslim population of India at the time possessed”

    Your Quaid never represented the entire Muslim population of India……He only represented those portion of the Muslim population who wanted a separate nation….not all Indian muslims were agreed with the same…..So, please for God sake stop saying that Pakistan was created for the Muslims of Indian subcontinent, rather it was created for only those Muslims who wanted a separate nation for themselves…….


  • Jan 20, 2013 - 5:16PM

    There are many despots who wanted their citizens to make movies, so that they can use it for propaganda. Hitler did it. China is doing it. Jinnah wanted it to happen.

    Its curious, is it not, that the Hindus and Sikhs move out of Lahore and Lahore goes from a movie-industry centre and cultural capital to a place where it has to import movies from India to entertain its own people. Its like Hindus and Sikhs, they took their cultural vibrancy required to make movies and the love of art with them!

    Pakistan was India, now Pakistan is becoming more like Pakistan. India remained and continues to be India.

    The only place in the world where Muslims have reached pinnacle of movie stardom and excellence is in India, a Hindu dominated country. In spite of having same origins, there’s no movie industry in Pakistan.


  • aj
    Jan 20, 2013 - 5:37PM

    omg, a shock for wierdo mullas who consider doing films a sinful act and its demise. . .’the wrath oF God’ and they think its ok!


  • doom
    Jan 20, 2013 - 5:41PM

    Really? We must do all that because there’s a letter showing Quaid-e-Azam was a movie fan? Do you think you may be holding on to a pet peeve, a bit of a grudge, that crops up and colors your reading of even an innocuous story such as this?


  • Khattak
    Jan 20, 2013 - 5:57PM

    I don’t tust in brigadiers. They have always lied to the Nation.



  • zeeshan sheikh
    Jan 20, 2013 - 6:12PM

    Must’ve been typed on microsoft word 2012 . lol liberals one more try to make him a secular


  • Khan Jr
    Jan 20, 2013 - 6:13PM

    Sad to say, If the Quaid was around today he would undoubtedly been targeted with violence by our ‘national assets’ for not being a ‘proper’ Musllim.


  • Aik aam aadmi
    Jan 20, 2013 - 6:24PM

    If he was alive would’ve been proud of Pakistans academy winner from the city of quaid. :)


  • Syed Shah
    Jan 20, 2013 - 7:05PM

    @Khawaja: Hello it is Sunna version Sir. In that time people told stories. Audio medium was used to tell stories. Story telling was the entertainment. Then came telling it by words. Printed word. The came silent visual, then came talkies. Movies that had sound. So audio visual. This was all entertainment.

    On one side you say Islam deen e fithrath hai and on the other side you say audio visual film is wrong. Fithrath mein entertainment hai. Why this dicotomy? Islam is not wrong but our understanding is abysmal.

    Jinnah was great. Look at his vision. He understood films will the prime mover of economy. For example you remove Hollywood from California, California Economy (sixth largest in the world) will crash and US economy will take a solid beating.

    Similarly you destroy Bollywood. Bombay will collapse. Bombay being the fulcrum of Indian economy, India will collapse. Almost every other industry is connected to Bombay film industry.

    Until 1947 the film industry in Bombay was very secular and actors, directors, musicians and other technical people all got a fair chance regardless of religion. After partition things did change. Muslims lost a lot of share there.

    But in Pakistan the bigots took over and killed the industry. I am sure had Jinnah been there, two things would not have happened. Industry would not have collapsed and Muslims not stopped from making a Muslim country their home. He would never allow that. But when it came into the hands of the feudals they did it and see the results.


  • Historian 1
    Jan 20, 2013 - 9:00PM

    Who cares, Pakistanis will only follow what is written in Arabic.


  • Jan 20, 2013 - 9:12PM

    How we wish Pakistan followed Jinnahs path rather than Mullahs path


  • Genesis
    Jan 20, 2013 - 9:26PM

    @Hassan (Kerala, India):

    and those Muslims were mostly the elite of UP and they were Urdu speaking and they are the unwanted Mohajjirs!


  • mohinder sandhu
    Jan 20, 2013 - 9:35PM

    you probably watch chikani chameli thousand times.Also chikani chameli was far indians, did you watch it on pirated video,if you did it is a crime.


  • Riaz Khan
    Jan 20, 2013 - 9:36PM

    We Pakistanis instead of making movies made ourselves as such that world is making movies on us!


  • ss
    Jan 20, 2013 - 10:17PM

    dear QAMAJ, we’ve failed you in everything :-/


  • Sarah Khan
    Jan 20, 2013 - 10:33PM

    I haven’t read many comments before mine, so I’m not sure whether anyone mentioned this here before or not, But alot of people would be surprised to know that Mr. Jinnah himself was extremely inclined towards and interesting in acting :) Infact when he went to London, he aspired to play Romeo in the Shakespearean Play. Interestingly, he even auditioned once by reading out a few verses and dialogues and the directors were greatly impressed by this talent of his. He was this close to joining the career in theatre before he received a threatening letter from his father castigating him of this activity and stated that if he commenced such career it would be a ‘treason’ to the family name. This resulted in deterring Jinnah from pursuing further. =)


  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Jan 20, 2013 - 10:39PM

    Pakistani film producers should make films in collaboration with the Indian film producers to give boost to Pakistani film industry.


  • Parvez
    Jan 20, 2013 - 10:40PM

    Today, does it matter as to what he wanted ? One thing for certain is that what Pakistan is today the Quaid certainly would not have wanted.


  • Hrishikesh
    Jan 20, 2013 - 10:50PM

    @Indian: Agree entirely. Noor Jehan, in an interview with Dilip Kumar while on a visit to India in 1982 (broadcast on Indian TV at that time, and available on YouTube now) says that no one would want to leave their home (Bombay) but she had to leave India for Pakistan because her husband wanted to.

    This letter highlights a larger issue, like you said. The start of this film that Qaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was referring to, ‘Humayun’, was Ashok Kumar. Ashok Kumar, a Hindu, played the Emperor Humayun in this 1945 Mehboob Khan film that Jinnah is talking about in the letter. How does this fact, and also the fact that Noor Jehan and Dilip Kumar were stars already at this time on Bombay and across India, fit with the bigoted idea being propounded by the M. League at the time that “Hindus and Muslims are two separate nations and can never evolve a common nationality”?


  • goggi
    Jan 20, 2013 - 11:05PM

    It is the absolute necessity of the hour to collectively struggle for the SURVIVAL of Pakistan as a society of HUMANS, a society stands above all man made religions, isms and zaat paats……….!

    Human dignity is inviolable, and the motives for the death penalty are contrary to human dignity.europarl.europa.eu

    The right to fair and just working conditions which respect dignity is reinforced by Article 1 of EU Charter, the principle that

    The European Charter of Fundamental Rights begins with the words, “Human dignity is inviolable”
    According to Article 1 (1),
    “human dignity is inviolable and it is the duty of all State powers to respect and protect it”.notar-presse.denotar-presse.de Recommend

  • Ahsanalpha
    Jan 20, 2013 - 11:36PM

    Need to be checked by some authentic historian.


  • LuvPak
    Jan 20, 2013 - 11:50PM

    He meant to Join” Pak film industry” not Indian, which many Pak artists these days are going to.


  • Wali Khan
    Jan 20, 2013 - 11:51PM

    Muslims Should Join The Film Industry. By that they can send there soft image to world. Muslims male and female must try hard to join the film Industry as much they can in this age.


  • af.
    Jan 21, 2013 - 12:04AM

    This is brilliant!


  • Arsal
    Jan 21, 2013 - 12:07AM

    @Ibrahim: This letter is genuine. Mr Masud, my grandfather, is a graduate from Aligarh university and he devoted a major chunk of his life to the Pakistan Movement. This is just 1 of the 8 my grand dad used to have;some were taken by people and never returned and 1 more is still in his posession.


  • Adil Uddin
    Jan 21, 2013 - 12:56AM

    I guess Quaid-e-Azam would have appreciated movies like Mughal-e-Azam,Bol,A Wednesday,Chandni Bar,Shatranj(1977),and Naseeruddin Shah type movies that are not just superb but never leave touch of reality and real life issues.I bet Quaid-e-Azam would never have asked Muslims to act in a movies where

    A hero and heroine sing and dance in rain during night time, and commit adultery by the end of the song.
    A single man with his powerful dialogues beat up hundreds of people and cops come in the end.
    Hero chasing his girlfriend around a tree.

    or same old Masala Pattern.

    It’s a fact that Jinnah was interested in becoming a stage actor while studying in London and was very fond of Shakespeare. William Shakespeare is a different case altogether.


  • Jamila
    Jan 21, 2013 - 1:37AM

    Muslim woman and man can be very beautiful and an ideal model and she/He will photograph incredibly well, but she’ll appear in film and it won’t work. What works is some fusion of physical beauty with some mental field or whatever you call it. I don’t know. SO If Muslim Women Join The film with physical and mental beauty that will be fantastic combination.
    When They did the film Generations, in which the character died, I felt like a guest for the first time. That made me very sad. So films left long lasting Impact on young people mind. It is the need of time for Muslims women to join the film industry


  • something true
    Jan 21, 2013 - 2:37AM

    syed shah: dont come with excuse so you can the films. you seems not to understand what islams opinion is abt making movies.


  • SM
    Jan 21, 2013 - 3:44AM

    I do not gee with the author that the government has to support the film industry. The government should not intervene in the market. If films are catering to the demands of the people they would make money, investors will invest and more films will be made. Pakistan film industry has declined due to its own mistakes and would grow back when someone sees an investment opportunity in films.


  • andleeb (Canada)
    Jan 21, 2013 - 4:08AM

    @V: “He also wished for Pakistan to be a secular state.”
    Keep deluding yourself. You are probably a Indian troll pretending to be Pakistani. Pakistan was made for Muslims, otherwise why was the need for partition? The muslims who stayed back in India are traitors to Islam.


  • malik awan
    Jan 21, 2013 - 4:12AM

    Sitting from afar I can only go by what I see in the paper and or come across on social media channels. But it does seem like there are efforts being made to revitalize this industry through in way that one may not expect. Films like Khuda Ke Liye and Bol were well appreciated, all of us have been entertained and are eagerly awaiting Shaan’s terrorism thriller Waar and Lahore based production Zinda Bhaag has been in the news a lot lately. I think these films represent a more realistic sort of cinema more akin the one in Europe as opposed to the song and dance vulgarity spewed out by present day Bollywood.


  • Observer
    Jan 21, 2013 - 7:28AM

    Funny, how folks on this forum comment on “‘If Jinnah was alive today…things would have been different blah blah…”. Jinnah was a brilliant lawyer who manuvered the Pakistan cause taking advantage of the post WWII situation with the British having lost the appetite to deal with the freedom movement and who were on their way out. He played the communal card which was his master stroke with the two-nation theory…stroking religious sentiments and insecurity (not unlike the leaders of Religious groups today). As a good lawyer Jinnah delivered Pakistan to the feudal lords and his job was done. There was no vision he communicated in any detail to this future country except a few speeches that spoke both to the fundamentalists and liberals with equal appeal. In return the feudals who took over the reins (and fate) of the country erected a few mussoleams and statues for Mr.jinnah. Please stop talking about vision etc. It is upto the newer generation to create a vision which the country has sorely lacked from the beginning.


  • Jan 21, 2013 - 7:36AM

    Just seeing how some of the comments have now gone into a theological debate over movies, kind of shows the ideological disconnect since the confused creation of the state and the role of religion being almost impossible to separate.


  • Sameer
    Jan 21, 2013 - 8:47AM

    If Jinnah were alive past 1960, he would have apologized to Nehru and moved back to India for good.


  • Asad
    Jan 21, 2013 - 9:30AM

    yes pls.


  • Mar 21, 2013 - 4:33AM

    I often wonder that if Mr. Jinnah was alive to-day, would he regret the idea of division.
    He was secularist and to-day’s Pakistan would not have been tolerated him being a Shia.
    I am sure he could have never visualized the current state of affair in his beloved Pakistan.


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