Mehboob Khan was a pioneer producer-director of Hindi cinema. He shot to international fame by making social epic ‘Mother India’ (1957) which was a nominee for the Academy Award for the Best Foreign film. He signed Nargis for the role of a suffering mother when she was just 26 years old, but the script required Nargis to perform a much -matured role on the screen. This film is also considered as the best film of
Mehboob also supported the growth of film industry by setting up the Mehboob Studios in local Bandra area and brought out color films from his studio. Earlier, he set up his own production company ‘Mehboob Productions’ too. Soon, in 1946, he directed the musical hit ‘Anmol Ghadi’ which featured singing stars Surendra, Noorjehan, and Suraiya in leading roles. Later, his own production company churned out box office blockbuster movies such as the romantic drama ‘
’ (1949), the swashbuckling musical ‘Aan’ (1951), and melodrama ‘
Mehboob was also instrumental in bringing up the career of
. Due to his sudden demise, he could not make many memorable movies. But he was a very influential filmmaker who was therefore selected as a member of the jury at the 2nd Moscow International Film Festival.
Mehboob was born on 9 September 1907 in Gujarat. The director had to struggle to come up in life. Before making an entry into the film industry, he worked as a horseshoe repairer in a stable. Not knowing how to become a director he luckily happened to visit a shooting spot of
(South) and showed his interest to work with Chandra. Seeing his skills and interest, Chandra gave him a small job in film studios of Bombay. Mehboob thus became an assistant director in silent films era. Later, he joined Sagar Film Company and directed notable films like ‘Ek Hi Rasta’ (1939) and ‘Alibaba’ (1940).
“Mother India’ was a milestone work of the filmmaker that fetched him National Film Award too. Nargis was the ultimate choice of Mehboob Khan. Nargis was the first Indian to receive the Best Actress award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival for her role, and the film was dubbed in various languages like French, Russian, Spanish, etc. Mehboob Khan had passed away on 28 May 1964.