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Khwaja Ahmad Abbas / K. A. Abbas
Born Khwaja Ahmad Abbas
7 June 1914 (1914-06-07)
Panipat, Haryana, British India
Died 1 June 1987 (1987-07) (aged 72)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Occupation Film director, Screenwriter, Novelist, Journalist
Years active 1939-1987

Khwaja Ahmad Abbas (Hindi: ख़्वाजा अहमद अब्बास) (7 June 1914 – 1 June 1987), popularly known as K. A. Abbas, was an Indian film director, novelist, screenwriter, and a journalist in the Urdu, Hindi and English languages. He was the maker of important Hindi films like, Saat Hindustani, Shehar Aur Sapna, Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) winner at theCannes Film Festival - Neecha Nagar, Cannes Film Festival nominated Pardesi and the screenwriter for the best of Raj Kapoor films.

Khwaja Ahmad Abbas is considered one of pioneers of Indian parallel or neo-realistic cinema, having penned films like Neecha Nagar, Jagte Raho, Dharti Ke Lal, Awara, Saat Hindustani and Naya Sansar.[1]

He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1969.




Early life

Khwaja Ahmad Abbas was born in Panipat, Punjab, British India (now Haryana, India). He was born in the home of celebrated Urdu poet, 'Khwaja Altaf Husain 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, was a tutor of a prince and a prosperous businessman, who modernised the preparation of Unani medicines. Abbas's mother, 'Masroor Khatoon', was the daughter of Sajjad Husain, an enlightened educationist.

Abbas took his early education in 'Hali Muslim High School', which was established by his great grand father Hali.

He had his early education till 7th in Panipat. He was instructed to read the Arabic text of the Quran and his childhood dreams swung at the compulsive behest of his father. Abbas completed his matriculation at the age of fifteen. He did his B.A. with English literature in 1933 and LL.B. in 1935 from Aligarh Muslim University.

His great grandson is Bollywood sensation Shahid Kapoor. [2]


Abbas began his career as a journalist, when he joined 'National Call', a New Delhi based paper after his finishing his B.A.. Later while studying law in 1934, started 'Aligarh Opinion', India's first university students' weekly during the pre-independence period.

After completing his education at Aligarh Muslim University, Abbas joined the Bombay Chronicle. He occasionally served a film critic, but after the film critic of the paper died, he was made the editor of the film section.

He entered films as a part time publicist for Bombay Talkies in 1936 to whom he sold his first screenplay 'Naya Sansar (1941)'.[3]

While at the Bombay Chronicle, (1935-1947), he started a weekly column called 'Last Page', which he continued when he joined the Blitz magazine.[1] "The Last Page", (‘Azad Kalam’ in the Urdu edition), thus became the longest-running political column in India's history (1941-86).[4] A collection of these columns was later published as two books. He continued to write for The Blitz and Mirror till his last days.

Meanwhile he had started writing scripts for other directors, Neecha Nagar for Chetan Anand and Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani for V. Shantaram.

In 1945, he made his directorial debut with a film based on the Bengal famine of 1943, Dharti Ke Lal (Children of the Earth) for the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA).

In 1951, he founded his own production company called Naya Sansar, which consistently produced films that were socially relevant including, Anhonee, Munna and the National Film Award winner, Shehar Aur Sapna in 1964.

A prolific writer, and novelist, during his illustrious career spanning five decades, Abbas wrote over 73 books in English, Hindi and Urdu.[5] Abbas was considered a leading light of the Urdu short story.[6] His best known fictional work remains 'Inquilab', based Communal violence, which made him a household name in Indian literature.[7] Like Inquilab, many of his works were translated into many Indian, and foreign languages, like Russian, German, Italian, French and Arabic.

Abbas interviewed several renowned personalities in literary and non-literary fields, including the Russian Prime Minister Khrushchov, American President Roosevelt, Charlie Chaplin, Mao-Tse-Tung and Yuri Gagarin.

He went on to write scripts for Jagte Raho, and most of the prominent Raj Kapoor films including Awaara, Shri 420, Mera Naam Joker, Bobby and Henna.

His autobiography, I Am not an Island: An Experiment in Autobiography, was published in 1977.




Haryana State Robe of Honour for literary achievements in 1969, the prestigious Ghalib Award for his contribution to Urdu prose literature in 1983[11]

Vorosky Literary Award of the Soviet Union in 1984, Urdu Akademi Delhi Special Award 1984, Maharashtra State Urdu Akademi Award in 1985 and the Soviet Award for his contribution to the cause of Indo-Soviet Friendship in 1985.


  • Naya Sansar (1941) – Screenplay, Story
  • Neecha Nagar (1946) - Screenwriter
  • Dharti Ke Lal (1946) - Screenwriter, Director, Producer
  • Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani (1946) – Screenwriter, Story
  • Aaj Aur Kal (1947) - Director
  • Awara (1951) - Screenwriter, Dialogue
  • Anhonee (1952) - Screenwriter, Dialogue, Story, Director, Producer
  • Rahi 1953 - Director
  • Naghma (1953) – Director
  • Munna (1954) – Screenwriter, Director, Producer
  • Darwaza (1954) - Director
  • Baradari (1955)
  • Jawab (1955) - Director
  • Sabse Bada Rupaiya (1955)
  • Shahzada (1955)
  • Shree 420 (1955) – Screenwriter, Dialogue, Story
  • Jagte Raho (1956) - Screenwriter
  • Jallad (1956) -
  • Bada Bhai (1957) –
  • Pardesi – Screenwriter, Director
  • Mehfil (1957) - Director
  • Hathkadi (1958) - Director
  • Zindagi Ya Toofan (1958)
  • Chaar Dil Chaar Rahen (1959) – Screenwriter, Dialogue, Director
  • Zara Bachke (1959) – Director
  • Eid Mubarak (1960) Documentary / Short - Director
  • Qatil (1960) – Director
  • Gir Game Sanctuary (1961) Documentary - Director
  • Flight to Assam (1961) - Director
  • Pyar Ki Dastan(1961) – Director
  • Gyarah Hazaar Ladkiyan (1962) - Director
  • Roop Lekha (1962) - Director
  • Maya Mahal (1963) - Director
  • Teen Gharaney (1963) - Director
  • Shehar Aur Sapna (1964) – Director, Screenwriter
  • Hamara Ghar (1964) - Director
  • Tomorrow Shall Be Better (1965) - Director
  • Aasman Mahal (1966) – Director
  • Dharti Ki Pukaar (1967) Short Film - Director
  • Char Shaher Ek Kahani (1968) Documentary - Director
  • Bombai Raat Ke Bahon Mein (1968) - Producer
  • Saat Hindustani (1970) – Director, Producer
  • Mera Naam Joker (1970) – Screenwriter, Story
  • Do Boond Pani 1972 - Director
  • Bharat Darshan (1972) Documentary - Director
  • Bobby (1973) – Screenwriter, Story
  • Kal Ki Baat (1973) Short Film - Director
  • Achanak (1973) - Screenwriter
  • Juhu (1973) (TV) - Director
  • Faasla or Faslah (1974) – Director, Producer
  • Papa Miya of Aligarh (1975) Documentary - Director
  • Phir Bolo Aaye Sant Kabir (1976) Documentary - Director
  • Dr. Iqbal (1978) - Documentary - Director
  • The Naxalites (1980) – Screenwriter, Director
  • Hindustan Hamara (1983) Documentary / Short - Director
  • Love in Goa (1983) - Screenwriter
  • Nanga Fakir (1984) (TV) - Director
  • Ek Aadmi (1988) - Director
  • Akanksha (1989) (TV) – Dialogue, Screenplay
  • Heena (1991) – Story


  • Outside India: The Adventures of a Roving Reporter, Hali Pub. House, Delhi, 1939.
  • An Indian looks at America (The Rampart library of good reading), 1943.
  • An Indian looks at America, Thacker, Bombay, 1943.
  • Tomorrow is ours! A novel of the India of Today; Bombay, Popular Book Depot, 1943.
  • "Let India fight for freedom", Bombay, Sound magazine (Publication dept.), 1943.
  • Defeat for death: A story without names, Padmaja Publications 1944.
  • "...and One Did Not Come Back!", Sound magazine, 1944
  • A report to Gandhiji: A survey of Indian and world events during the 21 months of Gandhiji's incarceration, 1944
  • Invitation to Immortality: a one-act play, Bombay: Padma Pub., 1944.
  • Not all Lies. Delhi: Rajkamal Pub., 1945.
  • Blood and stones and other stories. Bombay: Hind Kitabs, 1947
  • Rice and other stories, Kutub, 1947
  • Kashmir fights for freedom, 1948
  • I Write as I Feel, Hind Kitabs, Bombay, 1948
  • Cages of freedom and other stories, Bombay, Hind Kitabs Ltd., 1952.
  • China can make it: Eye-witness account of the amazing industrial progress in new China, 1952.
  • In the Image of Mao Tse-Tung, Peoples Publishing House, 1953
  • INQILAB. First Great Novel of the Indian Revolution, Jaico Publishing House, 1958
  • Face To Face with Khrushchov, Rajpal & Sons, 1960
  • Till We Reach the Stars. The Story of Yuri Gagarin, Asia Pub. House, 1961
  • The Black sun and Other stories, Jaico Publishing House, 1963.
  • Raat ki bahon mein, Hindi, Radhakr̥ishṇa Prakashan, 1965.
  • Indira Gandhi; return of the red rose, Hind Pocket Books, New Delhi, 1966.
  • Divided heart, Paradise Publications, 1968
  • When Night Falls, 1968.
  • Chabili, Hindi, Allahabad, Mitra Prakashan, 1968.
  • The most beautiful woman in the world, Paradise Publications, 1968
  • Salma aur Samundar, Urdu/Hindi, New Delhi, Komala Pocket Books, 1969.
  • Mera Naam Joker, 1970
  • Maria, Delhi, Hind Pocket Books, 1971.
  • Teen Pahiye, Urdu/Hindi, Delhi, Rajpal & Sons, 1971.
  • Bobby, Urdu/Hindi, 1973
  • Boy meets Girl, Sterling Publishers, 1973
  • That Woman: Her Seven Years in Power; New Delhi, Indian Book Co., 1973
  • Jawaharlal Nehru: Portrait of an integrated Indian; New Delhi, NCERT, 1974.
  • Fasilah", Urud/Hindi, Hind Pocket Books, Delhi, 1974
  • Distant dream, New Delhi, Sterling Pub., 1975.
  • The walls of glass: A novel, 1977
  • Barrister-at-law: A play about the early life of Mahatma Gandhi, New Delhi, Orient Paperbacks, 1977.
  • Men and women: Specially selected long and short stories, 1977
  • Mad, mad, mad world of Indian films, 1977
  • I Am not an Island: An Experiment in Autobiography, New Delhi, 1977.
  • Four Friends, Arnold-Heinemann, New Delhi, 1977.
  • 20 March 1977: a day like any other day, Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 1978.
  • Janata in a jam?, 1978.
  • The Naxalites, Lok Publications, 1979.
  • Bread, beauty, and revolution: being a chronological selection from the Last pages, 1947 to 1981, Marwah Publications, New Delhi, 1982.
  • Nili Sari aur Doosri Kahaniyan̲, Urdu, Maktabah-e-Jamia, New Delhi, 1982.
  • The gun and other stories, Arnold-Heinemann, New Delhi, 1985.
  • The Thirteenth Victim, Amar Prakashan, 1986.
  • The World Is My Village: A Novel With An Index, Ajanta, 1984. ISBN 81-202-0104-3
  • Bombay My Bombay: A Love Story of the City, Ajanta Publications/Ajanta Books International, 1987. ISBN 81-202-0174-4
  • Indira Gandhi: The Last Post; Bombay, Ramdas G. Bhatkal, 1989
  • Defeat for death: a story without names. Baroda: Padmaja Pub., 1994
  • How Films Are Made, National Book Trust, 1999, ISBN 81-237-1103-4
  • Soney Chandi ke Butt, Urdu, Alhamra, 2001, ISBN 969-516-074-3

For detailed listing :[12][13]

Books on Khwaja Ahmad Abbas

  • Ahmad Hasib - The Novels of Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, Seema. 1987
  • Hemendra Singh Chandalia - Ethos of Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, novelist, film-maker, and journalist: A study in social realism, Bohra Prakashan (1996)
  • Raj Narain Raz - Khawaja Ahmed Abbas-Ifkar. Guftar, Kirdar, Haryana Urdu Akademi [14]
  • Vasudev and Lenglet, eds., Indian Cinema Super-bazaar, Vikas, New Delhi, 1978.

Articles on Khwaja Ahmad Abbas

See also


  • S. Ghosh, "K. A. Abbas: A Man in Tune with History", Screen (Bombay), 19 June 1987, p. 14.
  • Dictionary of Films (Berkeley: U. of CA Press, 1977), p. 84.
  • Shyamala A. Narayan, The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 1 1976; vol. 11: pp. 82 - 94.
  • Ravi Nandan Sinha, Essays on Indian Literature in English. Jaipur, Book Enclave, 2002, ch. 7.

External links


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