Riaz Shahid: Extraordinary
An attempt has been made in this article to
salute the great, visionary Pakistani writer-cum- director, Riaz Shahid, as unforgettably portrayed by Anis Ahmed Shakur and
written expressly for you!
‘People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.’
The above saying holds true to legendary film writer, Riaz Shahid. Riaz Shahid was born Sheikh Riaz to a respectable,
conservative family of Kashmiri origin. ‘Shahid’ was his additional or nick name.
He settled in Lahore and showed a knack for journalism in his teen years. Additionally, his independence of mind
and ability to focus on his work also served him well.
Riaz was still in his youth, when his friend, actor Alauddin introduced him to film director, Jafar Bukhari.
Riaz showed one of his well-written stories to Jafar Bukhari, who was overwhelmed by it and accepted that story
for his film, ‘Bharosa.’
Hence, in 1958, Riaz debuted in the film ‘Bharosa’, as a scriptwriter. ‘Bharosa’, cast
included Alauddin- Yasmeen- Talish- Rehan and Shahina. Theatrical release in Plaza cinema, Karachi.
Riaz knew from the beginning that when the goal is worth achieving, nothing is beyond reach. In times due course,
Riaz made bright, vivid movies through assorted stories. He wrote the story for the film ‘Neend’, in 1959, which
was the directional debut of Hasan Tariq.
Riaz’s story was distinct in director Khalil Qaiser’s film ‘Shaheed’, in 1961. Those who
worked with him say that Riaz’s presence sparked patriotism, renewed inspiration and is symbolized in today’s
terms the Pakistani dream of human achievement. This encompasses unrelenting march toward knowledge.
Riaz was the scriptwriter-cum-producer -cum -director of the 1962 movie, ‘Susraal.’
As a writer, Riaz firmly believed that a good movie could change lives for the better—that it could foster
emotional development and enhance all the good aspects of life. He believed, too, that it could soothe those parts of life
that are most difficult.
Riaz was the scriptwriter of the 1963 film ‘Shikwa’, directed by Hasan Tariq. Similarly, he wrote his
story with distinction for the 1964 movie, ‘Farangi’, directed by Khalil Qaiser.
In every sense, Riaz was an advocate for the power of lyrics. He worked with an immensely talented movie-crew and
wrote the script for the 1964 movie, ‘Khamosh Raho’, directed by Jameel Akhtar. The haunting words and simple
melody lingered in our hearts, just as they have lingered in the hearts of people throughout the country.
Thanks to the poise and intelligence he displayed, Riaz’s film like ‘Riwaaj’, 1965, directed
by Diljeet Mirza, was apt to be successful. His genius in succeeding was largely one of character, namely that of patience-
self-discipline- rationality and inner resolve.
He wrote and directed the 1966 Punjabi film ‘Mr. Allah Ditta’, with verve and vivacity. Likewise, Riaz
wrote the script for the 1966 Punjabi film, ‘Nizam Lohar.’
Riaz and Neelo started taking interest in each other during the movie shoot of the film ‘Mr. Allah Ditta.’
He was surely struck by her beauty and innocence.
Their romance reached its zenith on the completion of the film ‘Nizam Lohar.’ Later, Riaz married Neelo
and they had a daughter, ‘Zarqa’ and two sons, ‘Sarosh’ and ‘Shan.’
One feels nostalgic as one encompasses all those shared memories about Riaz. Obviously, Riaz’s vast experience
in show business is an inspiration to all his loyal admirers.
He wrote a remarkable story for director Iqbal Shehzad’s 1966 movie, ‘Badnaam.’
Riaz promoted his movies as family friendly and morally uplifting. Remarkable people like Riaz inspired some of
our favorite movies like director Hasan Tariq’s 1966 movie ‘Majboor’ and director Zahoor Raja’s 1966
film ‘Baaghi Sardar.’
Riaz’s reputation for ingenuity stood so high that his past accomplishments are still fresh in our mind.
Thus, he flourished in many of the past century’s movies like director Jafar Bukhari’s film ‘Jawab Do.’
Writing was his crucible and Riaz was geared for success. That is where his drive came from. According to movie
critics, the earlier writers like Riaz changed the Pakistani films for the better.
Riaz wrote a fabulous script for director S.A. Bukhari’s 1967 film, ‘Gunahgaar’, and director
Khalil Qaiser’s 1967 movie, ‘Maan Baap.’
Riaz was more than a scriptwriter. He was the voice of truth. Moreover, he was a rare combination of thinker and
doer. In one important respect, however, Riaz seemed anchored firmly in his time—his commitment to write historical
movies is unquestionable.
The 1969 mega hit movie, ‘Zarqa’, was Riaz’s monumental achievement, which won eight Nigar Awards.
He was the producer- director- writer of ‘Zarqa.’
Further, he was the writer-cum- director of the 1971 historical movies, ‘Gharnata’, and ‘Ye Aman.’
Through his charismatic personality, this icon of individualism makes his presence felt forcefully after more than
He wrote the story with great flair for director Jameel Akhtar’s 1972 movie ‘Aik Raat.’
He also wrote the script for the film ‘Daku Tay Insaan.’
With hope and belief in himself, he remained focused to his pursuit. In the process, he transformed his life into
an exciting adventure that constantly challenged, rewarded and rejuvenated him.
He had a natural instinct for writing. Which are all the more evident in the 1974 movie ‘Baheesht’
and the 1978 movie ‘Haidar Ali.’ ‘Baheesht’ and ‘Haidar Ali’ were released after Riaz’s
Riaz won the Nigar Award for best scriptwriter for the film ‘Neend’ , in 1959.
Riaz won the Nigar Award for best scriptwriter for the film, ‘Shaheed’, in 1961.
Riaz won the Nigar Award for best scriptwriter for the film, ‘Shikwa’, in 1963.
Riaz won the Nigar Award for best scriptwriter for the film ‘Farangi,’ in 1964.
Riaz won the Nigar Award for best story writer for the film ‘Farangi,’ in 1964.’
Riaz won the Nigar Award for best producer for the film ‘Zarqa’, in 1969.
Riaz won the Nigar Award for best director for the film ‘Zarqa’, in 1969.
Riaz won the Nigar Award for best scriptwriter for the film ‘Zarqa’, in 1969.
Riaz won the Nigar Award for best storywriter for the film ‘Zarqa’, in 1969.
Riaz won the Nigar Award for best scriptwriter for the film ‘Baheesht’, in 1974.
Riaz won the Nigar Award for best storywriter for the film ‘Haidar Ali’, in 1978.
From thinker to writer and from director to producer, Riaz had proved resourceful, ingenious and pioneering. Riaz
who never lost his power to inspire, entertain and even change lives, passed on October 1, 1972, of blood cancer.
years after his death, his movies give him aliveness unusual to Pakistani cinema.