Zahir Raihan is a pioneer, a legend. His films and novels, portraying the social reality and depicting the veracity of the Liberation War remain classics to this date. Today marks the death anniversary of this great trendsetter.
Zahir Raihan's first film was "Kokhono Asheni", starring Sumita Devi, Khan Ataur Rahman, Sanjiv Dutt and Shabnam. It was released in 1961, leading to his commercial success "Behula" (1966), an adaptation of popular folklore, featuring Suchonda and Abdur Razzak. This was Nayok Raj Razzak's debut film, which was initially released in Urdu. Raihan's second Urdu language film "Sangam" (1964) was the first colour film made in Pakistan. He went on to deliver another hit with the duo in 1967, titled "Anwara" a film based on a novel by Mohammad Nazibur Rahman.
His film, "Kacher Deyal" (1963), narrating a story of womanhood and sacrifice, projects a unique interpretation of feminism. The film casts Anwar Hossain, Sumita Devi, Khan Ataur Rahman, Rani Sarkar, Inam Ahmed and Shawkat Akbar among many others. This film went on to receive the Nigar Award for best direction. His other notable works include "Sangam" and "Jibon Theke Nea", among numerous others. His documentary, "Stop Genocide", received international acclaim.
He collaborated with Kalim Sharafi to deliver another masterpiece "Sonar Kajol" in 1962. After back-to-back commercial successful vestures, the Ekushay Padak awardee went on to produce the evergreen movies "Dui Bhai" (1968), "Shuorani Duorani" (1968) and "Bairagi" (1967).
Raihan also managed to earn fame as an author since he had begun to work as a writer at "Juger Alo". Following the success of his first short story collection "Suryagrahan" in 1956, he went on to become the editor of Probaho in 1956. He was honoured with the Bangla Academy Literary Award in 1972, Adamjee Literature Award for "Hajar Bachhar Dhore" (novel) in 1964 and the Independence Day Award in literature novels (1992). His other works include "Trishna" (1962), "Arek Falgun" (1969), "Borof Gola Nodi" (1970), "Ar Koto Din" (1970), "Ekushey February" (1970), and "Koekti Mrittu" (1970).
Zahir Raihan went missing on January 30, 1972, after he went in search of his brother, renowned writer Shahidullah Kaiser, who is believed to have been captured and killed by the Pakistani Army during the final days of the 1971 Liberation War.