Remembering Saeed Khan, The ‘Rangeela’ Afghan Actor Who Ruled Lollywood

Born in Nangarhar, Rangeela is remembered as the king of Pakistani comedy3 min


remembering rangeela

Mohammad Saeed Khan, one of the finest comedians of Lollywood’s history, died on this day in 2005. His death anniversary was observed today to pay tributes for his lifetime services in the entertainment industry.

Widely known as Rangeela, the veteran actor was born on 1st January 1937 in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar area. His family migrated to Peshawar when he was still a kid.

actor rangeela

Later on, Rangeela moved to Lahore at a young age to find work in the film industry.

It’s said that, during his early days, he used to paint billboards for the Pakistani film industry to make earnings. Little did he know fate had some other perks lined up for him.

rangeela film
Young Rangeela. A screen grab from his feature film Rangeela (1970)

One day, when a comedian was absent from the film’s shooting set, Rangeela was called upon to play his part and that he did with ease, leaving everyone on the set wondering.

And from that moment on, he never looked back and soon emerged as one of Lollywood’s most sought-after comedians.

His film career started in 1957 with a Punjabi feature film Jatti. After Jatti, he chose to adopt comedy as his acting style and soon became one of the most sought after comedians in Lollywood. His funny faces, awkward gestures and hilarious dialogues were liked by the public to such an extent that they started copying his style in public.

Mushtaq Gazdar and actor Rangeela
Cinmatographer Mushtaq Gazdar interviewing actor Rangeela in 1996 (Photo: Mushtaq Gazdar family)

Rangeela performed in around 300 films in his career spanning over four decades. Rangeela, Dil aur Duniya, Meri Zindagi Hai Naghma and Insaan aur Gadhaa were some of his most popular films. In the movie ‘Parda Na Uthao’ (1974), Rangeela played a triple role and played all three roles with absolute command.

Rangeela actor

11 years after he made his debut in 1958, Rangeela decided to start directing movies. He founded Rangeela Productions and manifested his multi-faceted talents in Diya aur Toofan, his first directorial that was released in 1969.

Apart from acting, direction and film production, Rangeela also wrote many film scripts.  His first film script was that of Gadha Rangeela, which was a political satire film.

He also wrote another movie titled ‘Aurat Raaj’ which was a rare spectacle of feminism at that time, showing reversed roles of women and men. It highlighted, in a humorous manner, how difficult it would have been for men if they had to perform the duties of women.

Aurat Raaj poster
Poster of his film ‘Aurat Raj’ which was a rare spectacle of feminism at that time.

He also shone as a singer and his ‘Ga Mairay Manwa Gata ja ray’ was a hit. The song was sung by Rangeela himself and it featured in ‘Diya aur Toofaan’.

He also tried his luck localizing Hollywood concepts. His film ‘Kubra Ashiq’ was a remake of the 1956 Anthony Quinn movie ‘The Hunchback of Norte Dame’. Rangeela directed the movie and played the title role. The movie is actually based on a 1831 French novel by Victor Hugo.

rangeela bw
Comedians Rangeela and Munawwar Zareef were once among the superstars of Pakistani cinema. The new generation would be hard-pressed to know of them now.

For his services to the film industry, Rangeela received several awards including the President’s Pride of Performance in 2005 for excellence in the field of cinema.

On May 24, 2005, Rangeela died of a cardiac arrest at the age of 68.

Rangeela was not just a comic legend; but also an intellectual who knew the art of film-making inside-out. He was an actor, director, producer, writer and singer at the same time. Aficionados of Urdu and Punjabi movies, who are now in their late 50s, remember Rangeela as the king of comedy in Pakistan.

Pakistan film industry may never, and must never, forget the services rendered by this son of Lollywood.


Stasu Raaye

Muneeb

Electric, eclectic, eccentric - in that order! Sucker for fries and ghatti wrejay. Driven by FOMO.