He was a pillar of strength for Pashto film-makers and audiences, a legend in Urdu cinema and an actor who never denied his humble beginnings. And on October 11, 2008, Badar Munir died after suffering a cardiac arrest in Lahore, leaving a vacuum that may never be filled.
Be it Pashto films, Urdu flicks or those in Punjabi, Badar was a part of it all during his illustrious career. He was always the good guy, the brother in need, the son all wished for and the apple of his on-screen mom’s eye. And when he got time from saving the world (read village) and the belles therein, he romanced his (solah saal ki) leading lady.
Be it the ghunda in Waheed Murad’s Heera Aur Patthar or in his production, Jahan Tum Wahan Hum, or an extra in the song Kaash koi mujh ko samjhata from Nadeem’s Behen Bhai, Badar was there with his soundless yet all-powerful presence.
But in 1970, things changed for the better when a handful of producers thought of making Pakistan’s first-ever Pashto film, Yousaf Khan Sherbano.
The film broke all previous film records and became an iconic love story, and its hero soon became a household name. The hit pair of Badar Munir and Yasmeen Khan was cast again in Azam Khan Durkhani (1971) which proved to be a milestone in Pashto films, establishing Badar as a star.
With his confidence brimming and as he attaining familiarity with Urdu, he tried his hand at Urdu films…and met success with Jahan Baraf Girti Hai, which also proved to be a turning point in his film career. His home production, Dulhan Aik Raat Ki (1975), also broke box-office records and he continued to rule filmdom, a journey that continued throughout the ’80s as well.
His presence was integral in the success of Urdu films such as Dushmani, Cheekh, Dil Walay, Jaan Ki Baazi, Mujahid and Insaaf, while Naavay Da Yoshay, Deedan, Topak Zama Qanoon, Zama Qasam and Inteqaam Lumbay proved to be his most successful Pashto films. He was able to work with big names of his times — from Nadeem, Mohammad Ali, Sudhir, mentor Waheed Murad and Shahid to Ghulam Mohiuddin, Shaan and Moammar Rana. His pairing with Yasmeen Khan, Shehnaz Khan, Musarrat Shaheen, Durdana Rehman and Nazo was popular, whereas his dehshat and killing for honor made him a constant fear factor for the baddies in film after film.
And when he went Punjabi with Teen Badshah, Sultan Rahi had a befitting rival in him. He acted along side the late actor in Do Daku, Haibat Khan, Iman te Farangi and Doye Daku during the ’80s…and received top billing in Punjabi films due to his star power.
He continued playing the male lead in Pashto films throughout the ’80s and the ’90s. What Sultan Rahi was to Punjabi films, Badar was to Pashto flicks and he churned out over 500 films during his career which consisted of films in the three major languages — Pashto, Urdu and Punjabi.
During the later years of his career, directors Saeed Rizvi in Tilismi Jazeera (1996), Syed Noor in Deewane Tere Pyar Ke (1997) and Hasan Askari in Tere Pyar Mein (2000) used Badar’s star power to pull in the crowds successfully. These films launched Moammar Rana, Gia Ali, Zara Sheikh and Veena Malik, and would not have been hits without Badar’s presence.
Ultimatum (2003) was Badar’s last Punjabi film. Be it riding a horse, scaling a mountain or fighting the bad guys, Badar was known for performing his own stunts. The actor maintained a simple way of living and always acknowledged his humble roots.