Nanha: An amiable look back:
By Anis Shakur
Rafi Khawar was an educated youth and worked for a financial institution in Lahore in the early 1960s. He
took a keen interest in stage plays and made his presence felt as a comedian in stage shows.
Additionally, Khawar had a very strong desire to be an actor.
Unfortunately, he had no contacts with filmmakers.
Time passed by, and Khawar illuminated the musical functions and get togethers with his comedy items and
One of those days, renowned movie journalist, Yaseen Gorija, introduced Khawar to the veteran film director,
Gorija informed Kiranvi that he brought 'Gope' to him.
In fact, 'Gope' happened to be a fat Indian actor at the time. Khawar had a close resemblance to 'Gope'.
Hence, Gorija gave Khawar the nickname, 'Gope.'
Presumably, director Kiranvi was not in his best mood at that time. He said that since Khawar looked
more like a wrestler than an actor, he should try his luck in a wrestling ring.
Dejected, both Khawar and Gorija left Kiranvi's room.
In 1964, a comedy program 'Dum baaz dum saaz' used to be broadcast from the Radio Pakistan's Lahore station.
In that program, a clever, selfish person always took advantage of his foolish partner and exploited him.
During those days, a writer by the name of Kamal Ahmed Rizvi, took interest in the script of 'Dum baaz dum
saaz.' Long story short, Rizvi gathered a superb team of dedicated artists, and launched a weekly comedy show, 'Alif Noon.'
Thus, 'Dum baaz dum saaz' led to the creation of 'Alif Noon' in 1965, from the Lahore television station.
Kamal Ahmed Rizvi wrote the script for 'Alif Noon' and he also filled in the role of 'Allan', or the clever guy.
On the contrary, Rafi Khawar in his real life was an embodiment of innocence. Moreover, the public used
to smile whenever they looked at his innocent face. He appeared very funny even when he sat still.
Hence, Khawar was the perfect choice for the role of 'Nanha' in 'Alif Noon' or the foolish guy, who was
exploited by the crook 'Allan.'
'Alif Noon' attained so much popularity, that it became the greatest comedy program in the forty-one year
history of Pakistani television. No other comedy show could come close to it to date.
The story took a strange twist in 1965. Director Shabab Kiranvi was overwhelmed by Nanha's acting prowess
in 'Alif Noon.' He inquired from Gorija if Nanha was the same person who was introduced to him as 'Gope' in the past.
Gorija said 'yes' and Kiranvi requested Gorija to immediately bring Nanha to his office. This time Kiranvi
wasted no time and signed Nanha for his next film.
Amazingly enough, Kiranvi offered him the role of Nanha. Thus, Nanha debuted in the film 'Watan ka sipahi'
in 1966. Nanha performed innumerable characters in his twenty-one year movie career, from 1965 to 1986.
He achieved name, fame and respect beyond his imagination. In his personal life, Nanha astonished his coworkers
with peculiar behaviors.
For instance, airplanes frightened Nanha. Similarly, he was afraid of the seaside and kept away from
beaches his whole life. Also, he could not stand the sight of blood. His weak heart could not endure the sight of blood.
speaking about his preferences, perfumes were his weakness. His favorite past time was shopping for
a quality perfume.
Reverting to his movies, Nanha's innocent looks were all the more evident in director Shabab Kiranvi's 1967
golden jubilee film 'Insaniyat.'
Nanha held memorable roles in movies including the three below:
The film 'Badla' May 24, 1968.
The film 'Dhee Rani, October 24, 1969.
The film 'Att Khuda da wair' October 9, 1970.
Along the way, Nanha achieved legendary status by influencing and shaping Pakistani consciousness.
Moreover, special effects in some of his films are awe inspiring and their insertion into the narrative was seamless. Nanha's
three movies below are from a more graceful era:
The mega hit film 'Aansu', July 30, 1971.
The film 'Parday mein rehnay do', April 27, 1972.
The film 'Aas' August 10, 1973.
Nanha's ability to devote unswerving attention to a task produced unprecedented results in his field. Below
are three examples:
The film 'Samaaj', January 5, 1974.
The film 'Sharafat' August 7, 1974.
The film 'Pyar ka mausum' April 4, 1975.
Throughout his life, Nanha never lost his power to inspire, entertain and even change lives. He continued
to exert a unique fascination through movies like the one below:
The diamond jubilee film 'Shabana' November 12, 1976.
Nanha was a natural actor, and there were genuinely sweet moments between him and his co-artists. As for
his talents, director Zafar Shabab's 1977 movie 'Bharosa' still retains its enchanting freshness.
The film 'Shama-e-mohabbat', July 14, 1977.
The super hit film 'Nazrana' June 9, 1978.
In recent years a new generation is rediscovering the virtues of the classic 'Nanha' movies,through the
highly successful revivals of the films like the one below:
The platinum jubilee film 'Aawaz', October 27, 1978.
Nanha's acting was an exquisite blend of tenderness and joy. A quick example is director Shabab Kiranvi's
1979 film 'Waday ki zanjeer.'
Nanha worked in two hundred fifty movies in his magnificent movie career. It is hard to believe he created
enough characters to keep us interested twenty years later. His sense of humor was intact in director Nazar Shabab's 1979
The film 'Miss Hong Kong', November 3, 1979.
The film 'Sher Khan' August 2, 1981.
Occasionally, Nanha played his part with the sobriety no other comedian could have imagined. Talking of
his films, movies like 'Aawaz', was followed by another spate of outstanding films like the three below:
The film 'La jawab' February 13, 1981.
The film 'Sungdil' April 2, 1982.
The film 'Dillan day sauday' February 24, 1983.
Nanha lent his artistic talents wholesomely to Pakistani cinema. A case in point is director Dada Nazar-ul-Islam's
1983 movie 'Love story.'
Those movies were a concerted effort by any stretch of the imagination. The direction is almost gushing
in its admiration. Over and above, Nanha's convincing performance upholds the sentimentality of the time. Below are three
The film 'Ishq pecha' April 27, 1984.
The film 'Churiyaan' April 5, 1985.
The film 'Aakhri jang' August 17, 1986.
Nanha's last film was 'Pasuri Badshah', which was released five years after his death in 1991.
Allan and Nanha also appeared as guest stars in the Pakistani television Award show, which was hosted by
Nanha won the Nigar Award for best supporting actor for the film 'Bharosa' in 1977.
Nanha won the Nigar Award for best comedian for the film 'Love story' in 1983.
It is said that love is blind. This holds too true in case of Nanha.' He fell in love with actress-cum-dancer,
Naazli. Essentially, Nanha failed to recognize three major flaws in his blind romance:
First of all, there was no occasion for such a gimmick in his working life.
Second of all, Nanha was too old for that actress.
Third of all, it was a one-sided affair,since only Nanha was interested in the girl and not the other way around.
Too bad, Naazli's rejection cost him his life. Nanha committed suicide on June 2, 1986, in Lahore, the city
he loved most.
The noted comedian, who smeared smiles on the faces of millions of moviegoers for more than two decades,
left them in tears.
Rafi Khawar may be gone. But the super-performer, Nanha, of 'Alif Noon',