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Punjab, India

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Khwaja Ahmad Abbas


Khwaja Ahmad Abbas (7 June 1914 – 1 June 1987) was an Indian film director, screenwriter, novelist, and journalist in Urdu, Hindi, and English. He won four National Film Awards in India.


 Internationally, his films won the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm Grand Prize) at the Cannes Film Festival (out of three Palme d'Or nominations) and the Crystal Globe at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. As a director and screenwriter, he is considered one of the pioneers of Indian parallel or neo-realistic cinema.


As a director, he made Hindustani films. Dharti Ke Lal (1946), about the Bengal famine of 1943, was one of Indian cinema's first social-realist films, and opened up the overseas market for Indian films in the Soviet Union.


 Pardesi (1957) was nominated for the Palme d'Or. Shehar Aur Sapna (1963) won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film, while Saat Hindustani (1969) and Do Boond Pani (1972) both won the National Film Awards for Best Feature Film on National Integration.


As a screenwriter, he wrote a number of neo-realistic films, such as Dharti Ke Lal (which he directed), Neecha Nagar (1946) which won the Palme d'Or at the first Cannes Film Festival, Naya Sansar (1941), Jagte Raho (1956), and Saat Hindustani (which he also directed). 


He is also known for writing Raj Kapoor's films, including the Palme d'Or-nominated Awaara (1951), as well as Shree 420 (1955), Mera Naam Joker (1970), Bobby (1973) and Henna (1991).


His column 'Last Page' was one of the longest-running newspaper columns in the history of Indian journalism. It began in 1935, in The Bombay Chronicle, and moved to the Blitz after the Chronicle's closure, where it continued until his death in 1987. He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1969.


Abbas was born in Panipat, Undivided Punjab. He was born in the home of Altaf Hussain Hali, a student of Mirza Ghalib. His grandfather Khwaja Gulam Abbas was one of the chief rebels of the 1857 Rebellion movement, and the first martyr of Panipat to be blown from the mouth of a cannon. 


Abbas's father Ghulam-Us-Sibtain graduated from Aligarh Muslim University, and was a tutor of a prince and a businessman, who modernized the preparation of Unani medicines. Abbas's mother, Masroor Khatoon, was the daughter of Sajjad Husain, an educator.


Abbas attended Hali Muslim High School, which was established by his great-grandfather, Hali. He was instructed to read the Arabic text of the Quran and matriculated at the age of fifteen.


He gained a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature in 1933 and a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1935 from Aligarh Muslim University.

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