To be a success in life one should be diplomatic and should not fall shy of flattering the boss when occasion arises. This is the tip which Anwar Hussain, one of the well-known character artistes in Bombay, offered in the course of a frank talk with me the other day. “You may have talent and you may work hard for winning recognition but if you are blunt and straightforward and do not possess the special knack of pleasing your employer, you can never be in his good books and material success will elude you forever and ever. This is my experience during the last twenty-six years of my film career”.
With an uncanny talent for keeping audiences amused, undisputed histrionic ability and capacity for strenuous work, Anwar Hussain should be in the top, as an established artiste, but today, in spite of his good connections with the industry, he is just one of the struggling artistes, completely uncertain of what the morrow has in store for him. “That is because,” Anwar Hussain explained, “I have been independent and frightfully outspoken without currying favour. And so I am struggling and am not making any progress. It requires wits, not talent, to win success in this land of make-believe.”
Continuing, Anwar Hussain said that it was his deep regard for his self-respect that made him take up an “independent” outlook. “Being the elder brother of the top star Nargis,” he pointed out, “I could gain certain things but I do not wish to take advantage of my position. It was this same ‘independent’ attitude that was responsible for my rustication from the school when I was eighteen years old.” Anwar Hussain thereupon disclosed that he was the second son of the late Jadanbai and Mohanlal (the first is Akhtar Hussain while the third is Nargis) and was born in Banaras on March 20th, 1920. He had his education in Calcutta and Bombay, where he studied up to matriculation, when an “unfortunate” incident culminating in his rustication from the school put an end to his studies.
Anwar Hussain made his acting debut when he was eleven years old in a picture called Raja Gopichand (1933). Then he appeared in a number of juvenile roles in the pictures made by his parents like Talash-e-Haq (1935), Madam Fashion (1936), Moti ka Haar (1937) and Call of the Soul. He started earning an income when he commenced working as a commission agent and general supplier in Bhopal State in 1939, Migrating to Bombay, he learnt automobile engineering but when an opportunity came his way, he joined the Bombay Station of A.I.R. as an artiste, in which capacity he worked for three years.
Anwar Hussain had his big break in films when producer-director A.R. Kardar discovered his talent at a lavish party, in which he had produced and directed a play for the amusement of the guests. He thus played his first major role in Kardar’s Sanjog. That was in 1941. With its success, Anwar landed a hero role in his next vehicle Jeevan, which again proved to be a hit. The picture that followed, Pehle Aap (1944), brought him to the forefront as one of the leading artistes. A new phase in his career opened up when he started playing character roles from the production of his brother’s film Romeo Juliet (1947). He has so far appeared in about fifty films, memorable among them being Hum Log (1951), Awaaz (1956), Naya Aadmi (1956), Baarish (1957), Footpath and Capt. Kishore (1957). He is now featured in A.V.M’s Char Bhai, (Hindi version of Kuladeivam), Khazanchi (1958), Police (1958) and Yahudi Ki Ladki (1957). Happily married he has four sons and a daughter. In the field of sport, he is good at cricket, hockey and table tennis.
Cinemaazi thanks Sudarshan Talwar and Cineplot for contributing this article.