14 June 1922
|Died||9 March 1971 (aged 48)|
|Occupation||Film director, film producer, screenwriter|
|Years active||1945 - 1971|
|Akhtar Asif, sister of Dilip Kumar|
Sitara Devi, the singer
Nigar Sultana, the actress
Tabeer K Asif Quraishi
Zooni K Asif
Heena Kausar (by Nigar Sultana)
K. Asif, born Asif Karim (14 June 1922 - 9 March 1971), was an Indian film director, film producer and screenwriter who is famous for his work on the Hindi/Urdu epic motion picture, Mughal-e-Azam (1960).
His directorial debut, Phool (1945), did very well at the box-office. In 1944, Asif planned to make a film called Mughal-e-Azam based on the life and times of Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great's court dancer, based on a Urdu novel 'Anarkali' written by Syed Imtiaz Ali Taj, with Chandramohan in the male lead and the then upcoming actress Nargis in the female lead. However, in 1946, before the production of the film could begin, the male lead, Chandramohan, died. At that time, Asif temporarily shelved the film until further notice. He produced the film Hulchul and released it in 1951.
At that time, Asif recast Mughal-e-Azam with Dilip Kumar in the male lead and Madhubala in the female lead and began the production of the film in the same year. In 1960, after twelve years in production, Mughal-e-Azam was released and became a huge hit at packed cinema houses across India.
After the release and success of Mughal-e-Azam, Asif planned yet another motion picture called Love and God, his first directorial venture to be made completely in color, and began production. The film was to star Guru Dutt in the male lead and Nimmi in the female lead. However, in 1964, when lead actor Guru Dutt died, shooting came to a halt. Asif recast Sanjeev Kumar in the male lead and resumed production of the film. During the production of the film, K. Asif died on 9 March 1971 at the age of 48/49 and the film was abandoned. In 1986, Asif's senior widow, Akhtar Asif, (younger sister of Dilip Kumar) released the film in an incomplete form.
K. Asif married three times. His first and life-long wife, Akhtar Asif, was the younger sister of superstar Dilip Kumar. This marriage, arranged by their families in the usual Indian way, lasted all their lives, was blessed with at least six children, possibly more. Akhtar Begum was set in an entirely traditional mould. She received two co-wives with dignity, established civil (but not warm or friendly) relationships with them, and continued to maintain a fairly normal relationship with her husband, including bearing children throughout his marriages with other women. Some of her children were still very young when Asif died in 1971 aged 48, and she raised them single-handedly thereafter. It was she who ensured the release of Asif's last, incomplete film, "Love and God," which was released in 1986, fifteen years after his death.
Asif's second wife was the singer and actress Sitara Devi, and thereby hangs an interesting tale. Asif had a sister, Sikandar Begum, who was married to her first cousin, the actor Nazir Ahmed Khan (not to be confused with the actor Nasir Khan, brother of Dilip Kumar). Nazir Ahmed Khan fell in love with Sitara Devi and married her while still being married to Sikandar Begum (it remains legal in India for Muslim men, and only Muslim men, to have up to four wives concurrently). Asif became enamoured of Sitara Devi, who was his sister's co-wife and his cousin's second wife. Nazir and Sitara were soon divorced, and shortly afterwards, Asif married Sitara, who thus became the wife, successively, of Sikandar Begum's husband and brother. However, the marriage of Asif and Sitara lasted no more than a few months, and they were soon divorced.
Some time later, Asif married for a third time. The bride was the actress Nigar Sultana, who played an important role in Asif's magnum opus, Mughal-e-Azam. Born in Hyderabad in south India, Nigar Sultana had previously been married to the actor S.M. Yousuf. That marriage had been childless, and had ended in divorce when Yousuf moved to Pakistan some years after the partition of India, while Nigar preferred to advance her career in India. Asif and Nigar Sultana were blessed with one daughter, the small-time actress Heena Kausar. Heena Kausar, who appeared in bit roles in a large number of forgettable films, finally attained fame by marrying the dreaded underworld gangster Iqbal Mirchi, a close associate of India's most wanted criminal, Dawood Ibrahim. Among other crimes, Iqbal Mirchi is said to have laundered Dawood Ibrahim's ill-gotten wealth through his "successful business ventures."
K. Asif died in March 1971, aged 48/49. He was survived by two wives, Akhtar Begum and Nigar Sultana, and by at least seven children. Neither of his widows ever married again. Nigar Sultana died in April 2000. Akhtar Begum divides her time between the homes of her children in India and Canada. She lived alone in Mumbai for several years, but in 2011, her daughter Zooni realized that she was being robbed and even kept sedated by her maid. After this fact came to light, her children have ensured that Akhtar Begum lives in the company of her children.