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Munawar Sultana

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Munawar Sultana
File:Munawwar Sultana.jpg Munawwar_Sultana.jpg
Munawwar Sultana in Raat Ki Rani (1949)
BornMunawar Sultana
8 November 1924
Lahore, British India
💀Died15 September 2007(2007-09-15) (aged 82)
Mumbai15 September 2007(2007-09-15) (aged 82)
🏳️ NationalityIndian
Other names
💼 Occupation
💵 Salary :
📆 Years active  1945-56
👩 Spouse(s)Sharaf Ali
👶 Children4 sons, 3 daughters

Munawar Sultana (1924–2007) (her name in all her films opening credits), also written as Munawwar Sultana,[1] was an Indian cinema actress, who acted in Hindi/Hindustani films. She is cited as one of the "popular" actresses of the late 1940s to early 1950s period, along with Noor Jehan, Swarnalata and Ragini.[2] Her specialty was playing a selfless woman, enduring the rough treatment meted by her husband and family, but who eventually "brought her erring husband back home".[3]

She came into prominence with Mazhar Khan's Pehli Nazar (1945), her first film in a leading role. A discovery of actor-producer-director Mazhar Khan, she became inundated with film offers, becoming one of the busiest actresses by 1949, along with other leading ladies such as Suraiya and Nargis.[4] Some of her successful films were Pehli Nazar, Dard (1947), Elaan (1947) Kaneez (1947), and Babul (1950).

Early life[edit]

Munawar Sultana was born on 8 November 1924, in Lahore, British India, into a strict Punjabi Muslim family.[3] According to an interview with son Sarfaraz and daughter Shaheen, conducted by Shishir Krishna Sharma, Munawwar's father was a radio announcer. Munawwar wanted to become a doctor, but was side-tracked by an offer in films. This was a small role in the film, Dalsukh Pancholi's Khazanchi (1941), where she played a barmaid, and had a song, "Peene Ke Din Aaye" picturised on her.[5] She went by the screen name Asha for this period.[3] According to Patel, Munawwar came to Bombay from Lahore, courtesy of the actor-director Mazhar Khan in 1945. She became popular with her film Pehli Nazar, a role she stated was one of her favourites.[6]


In 1945, she was visited in Lahore by producer-actor-director Mazhar Khan, who contracted her on a monthly fee of Rs. 4000 plus an apartment, and brought her to Bombay. Munawwar's first film with Mazhar was Pehli Nazar, where she was cast opposite actor Motilal. In the popular song "Dil Jalta Hai Toh Jalne Do" (Let the Aflame Heart Burn) playbacked by singer Mukesh for Motilal, Khan focused on Munawwar's close-ups during the picturisation.


Following Pehli Nazar, she was kept busy through 1947 to 1949 working in several films. Baburao Patel wrote in the cine-mag Filmindia 1949, about her being one of the most over-worked actresses along with Suraiya and Nargis.[4]

In 1947, Munawar acted in four films Dard, Elaan, Andhon Ki Duniya and Naiyya. Dard was directed by Abdul Rashid Kardar under Kardar Productions. In spite of no big stars being in the film, it turned out to be a surprise "musical hit" at the box office.[7] The hero of the film was Kardar's brother Nusrat (Kardar),[8] while Suraiya played the second lead, with Munawwar Sultana as the main heroine.[9] Munawwar lip-synced three songs voiced for her by Uma Devi, a Naushad discovery. The song "Afsana Likh Rahin Hoon" became a big success.[10] Elaan garnered positive reviews for Munawwar. A Muslim social, the film was praised for its "progressive attitude" towards the need of education. It was directed by Mehboob Khan and had Surendra as the male lead.[11]

1948 saw Munawar in four more films. Parai Aag was produced by Great India Pictures and directed by Najam Naqvi. The film starred Munawar with Madhubala and Ulhas. Sona (Gold) was another Mazhar Khan-directed film for his Mazhar Arts Production. Majboor was a Bombay Talkies production, under the direction of Nazir Ajmeri. It had Shyam opposite Munawwar with music by Ghulam Haider. Bombay Talkies had gone through several changes following Himanshu Rai's death, and Devika Rani's partnership with S. Mukherjee had produced several box office hits. With first, Mukherjee, and then Devika Rani leaving as head of production of Bombay Talkies, Ashok Kumar and S. Vacha returned to Bombay Talkies and took over control. Their first film was Majboor. The story was an "inter-communal" love story, with a Muslim boy falling for a Hindu girl.[12] Munawwar formed a "hit-pairing" with Shyam in this film, while Lata Mangeshkar came into prominence under the music direction of Ghulam Haider.[13] Meri Kahani was directed by cameraman Keki Mistry and produced by Sharaf for Super Team Federal Productions (Bombay). The film co-starred Munawwar and Madhubala with Surendra. A comedy of errors, it has the hero in a double role leading to mistaken identities.[14]

1949 was Munawar's busiest year with seven releases. Dil Ki Duniya was directed by Mazhar Khan for his Noble Arts Production. It co-starred Geeta Bali and Mazhar with Munawar. The film was praised for its "versatility" and "well-balanced production values", along with good performances by Munawwar, Mazhar and Geeta Bali. The film was claimed to have done "well" at the box office.[15] Her standout film that year was Kaneez, directed by Krishna Kumar for Caravan Pictures. A Muslim social, it had Munawwar with Shyam, and Kuldeep Kaur. She played a suffering woman married to a wayward husband, who eventually returns to her. It was described as one of her best roles.[16]


Out of her four films released in 1950, Munawar's most notable film was Babul (Father's House). She acted opposite Dilip Kumar and Nargis in this love triangle. Directed by S. U. Sunny, the music was composed by Naushad.[17] The film became a major success at the box office. She acted in a few more films till 1956, with Jallad being her last appearance.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

From 1950, Munawar's career slowed down, and she acted in fewer films. She met her husband Sharif Ali Bhagat, a businessman, on the sets of a movie for which he provided furniture. He produced two films with Munawar in the lead, Meri Kahani (1948) and Pyar Ki Manzil (1950).[3] Following the sudden death of her husband in 1966, Munawar managed her family of four sons and three daughters.[5]


In the last eight years of her life, Munawar suffered from Alzheimer's disease. She died on 15 September 2007, at her home in Ambedkar Road. Pali Hill, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.[5][18]



Year Film Director Co-stars Producer
1941 Khazanchi Moti B. Gidwani M. Ismail, S.D. Narang, Ramola Devi D. M. Pancholi (Pancholi Productions, Lahore)
1945 Pehli Nazar Mazhar Khan Motilal, Veena, Baburao Pendharkar, Bibbo, Cuckoo Mazhar Khan for Mazhar Art Productions
1947 Andhon Ki Duniya Keshavrao Date Mahipal, Manmohan Krishna, Keshavrao Date Rajkamal Kalamandir
1947 Dard A. R. Kardar Suraiya, Nusrat (Kardar), Husn Banu, Pratima Devi A. R. Kardar
1947 Elaan Mehboob Khan Surendra, Himalayawala, Rehana, Zebunissa Mehboob Productions
1947 Naiya Aslam Noori Mazhar Khan, Ashraf Khan, Balakram, Shahzadi, Suman Mohan Pictures
1948 Majboor Nazir Ajmeri Shyam, Indu, Amir Banu Bombay Talkies
1948 Meri Kahani Keki Mistry Surendra, Murad, Bhudo Advani S. T. F. Productions
1948 Paraai Aag Najam Naqvi Madhubala, Ulhas, Khalil Great Indian Pictures
1948 Sona a.k.a. Gold Mazhar Khan Mazhar Khan, Dixit, Suman, Madan Puri Mazhar Art Productions
1949 Dada Harish Sheikh Mukhtar, Shyam, Begum Para, Cuckoo, N. A. Ansari Omar Khayyam Films
1949 Dil Ki Duniya Mazhar Khan Geeta Bali, Mazhar Khan, Suman, Madan Puri Noble Art Productions
1949 Kaneez Krishna Kumar Shyam, Kuldip Kaur, Shyama, Urmila Caravan Pictures
1949 Nisbat S. Shamsuddin Yakub, Zebu, Sofia, Jilloobai Hindustan Art
1949 Raat Ki Rani Jagdish Sethi Shyam, Sulochana Chatterjee, Om Prakash, Madan Puri J. S. Pictures
1949 Sawan Bhado Ravindra Dave Om Prakash, Indu, Ram Singh, Raj Adeeb Prakash Pictures
1949 Uddhar S. S. Kulkarni Dev Anand, Bharat Bhushan, Nirupa Roy Pratibha Chitra Mandir
1950 Babul S. U. Sunny Dilip Kumar, Nargis, Jankidas Sunny Art Productions
1950 Pyar Ki Manzil Keki Mistry Rehman, Gope, Jankidas Super Team Federal Productions
1950 Sabak Mohammed Sadiq Gajanan Jagirdar, Karan Dewan, Om Prakash, Kumar, Shyama Sadiq Productions
1950 Sartaj S. Khalil Motilal, Shyama, Cuckoo Omar Khayyam
1952 Apni Izzat Nanabhai Bhatt Motilal, Yakub, Yashodhra Katju Harishchandra Pictures
1952 Tarang I. C. Kapoor Ajit, Jeevan, Manorama Solar Films
1954 Ehsan R. Sharma Prithviraj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, Naaz, K. N. Singh Mohla Films
1954 Toofan Ram Prakash Sajjan, Vijaylaxmi, Pran Starlight Pictures
1954 Watan Nanabhai Bhatt Nirupa Roy, Trilok Kapoor, Jayant, Cuckoo, Madan Puri Falcon Films
1955 Deewar S. Khalil Bhagwan, Karan Dewan, Sheikh Mukhtar Indralok Pictures
1956 Jallad JayBee Nasir Khan, Veena Filmdom


  1. Patel, Baburao (June 1949). "Munnawar Sultana image". Filmindia. 15 (6): 38. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  2. Pran Nevile (2006). Lahore : A Sentimental Journey. Penguin Books India. pp. 89–. ISBN 978-0-14-306197-7. Retrieved 30 October 2016. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Munawwar Sultana-Interview". cineplot.com website. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Baburao, Patel (March 1949). "Bombay Calling". Filmindia. 15 (3): 13.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Sharma, Shishir Krishna. "Afsana Likh Rahi Hoon-Munavvar Sultana". beetehuedin.blogspot.in. beetehuedin. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Munawwar Sultana Filmography". Complete Index To World Film (CITWF) website. Alan Goble. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  7. Chandra, Balachandran, Pali, Vijay Kumar. "Dard 1947". indiavideo.org. Invis Multimedia Pvt. Ltd. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  8. "Nusrat Kardar". cineplot.com. Cineplot. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  9. Bhaichand Patel (2012). "Suraiya". Bollywood's Top 20: Superstars of Indian Cinema. Penguin Books India. pp. 61–. ISBN 978-0-670-08572-9. Retrieved 9 November 2016. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  10. Tilak Rishi (2012). Bless You Bollywood!: A Tribute to Hindi Cinema on Completing 100 Years. Trafford Publishing. pp. 143–. ISBN 978-1-4669-3963-9. Retrieved 10 November 2016. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  11. Patel, Baburao (April 1948). "Elan-Review". Filmindia. 14 (4): 51. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  12. Patel, Baburao (April 1948). "Majboor-Review". Filmindia. 14 (6): 45. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  13. NFDC (14 August 1998). INDIAN CINEMA A VISUAL VOYAGE. Publications Division Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Government of India. pp. 238–. ISBN 978-81-230-2192-8. Retrieved 10 November 2016. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  14. Patel, Baburao (October 1948). "Meri Kahani-Review". Filmindia. 14 (10): 53. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  15. Patel, Baburao (August 1949). "Dil Ki Duniya-Review". Filmindia. 15 (8): 51. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
  16. Ashish Rajadhyaksha; Paul Willemen (10 July 2014). Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema. Taylor & Francis. pp. 1994–. ISBN 978-1-135-94325-7. Retrieved 7 November 2016. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  17. Lutgendorf, Philip. "Babul". uiowa.edu. The University of Iowa. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  18. http://beetehuedin.blogspot.in/2012/09/afsana-likh-rahi-hoon-munavvar-sultana.html
  19. "Munawar Sultana-Filmography". muvyz.com. Muvyz Limited. Retrieved 6 February 2018.

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