LAHORE-Sequence of a Punjabi film was being shot in a Lahore film studio. Fighters were standing in a row behind Santosh Kumar (Syed Moose Raze). According to scene requirement, Santosh had to move forward and row of fighters had to follow him. Rehearsal of scene was going well except a hitch. One fighter was following Santosh so aggressively that he was overtaking Santosh. After a couple of rehearsals, Santosh addressed that fighter and said “look young man, be patient. Your time will also come”. That impatient fighter was Sultan Rahi. At that time could anybody visualize that same fighter will overtake every male actor in the industry and nobody will ever be able to overtake him.

During early sixties he started his career as a stage actor and then joined films as a fighter cum actor. He used to appear in a very few scenes (including without any line to speak) and was never noticed. His progress as an actor was slow but steady.

Then came a Punjabi film ‘CHACHA JEE’ directed by a very famous and successful director Waheed Dar. He was given a brief role in that film. He had to act as a servant of a landlord, who impersonates as land lord to save the real landlord from enemies and in the process is killed by those who had come to kill the real landlord. The sequence was brief but very well written and filmed. His performance in that sequence was so striking that he was well noticed not only by film fans but also by film makers. That performance was a turning point for his career.

He was a unique person in his own right. He designed his own school of acting for himself. He was so convinced of his style of acting that right from day one to day last, he just followed his style. His style of acting was a striking combination of his facial features (highlight of which was his square face, eyes and nose which is called in Punjabi “PHEENA”), his limbs and body movement.

When he became an established villain, he practically affected very seriously the career of villains like Ilyas Kashmiri, Mazhar Shah, Sawan, Faazal Butt to name a few. When he turned anti-hero, Ilyas Kashmiri regained ground as a villain to some extent, Sawan took solace in character rolls but others had to vacate ground for new comers like Altaf Khan, Afzaal Ahmad, Jaggi Malik, Khayyam, Fazl-e-Haq, Changaizee etc.

During his carrier as a leading villain some youngsters were tried by film makers who were having more height, better physiques but no such effort could succeed in replacing him. Those tried included Qasim and Raj Multani. No existing and new comer villain could give the same impact on silver screen that he gave film after film.

He introduced “TEDI SHIFT” (Shift of short duration) so that more number of films could be shot in one day benefitting more number of daily paid film workers and more number of film makers could be accommodated. He had certain habits in his life style which distinguished him from other co-actors. He not only constructed a mosque adjacent to his residence but also financed construction of mosques at different locations inside the premises of film studios as well as outside.

During interviews he was often asked a question which made him very angry. Question was “why you became an actor and did not join some other profession”? On hearing this question, he felt highly irritated and instead of answering the question asked the interviewer “why you became a journalist and did not join some other profession”?

He had no parallel. Perhaps there will never be a parallel. He had unbelievable screen presence. The anger and aggression he portrayed on silver screen was matchless. In certain sequences he looked and sounded like a volcano. His dialogue delivery, facial expressions and body movements were always a good example of synchronization.

Was his potential of acting fully exploited in films? Rather could it be fully exploited? That was certainly very difficult in Pakistan due to certain constraints. Yet there are film directors who presented him in highly challenging rolls and extracted memorable performances out of him. Like Iqbal Kashmiri, Aslam Dar, Younas Malik, Hassan Askari.

He was an actor with highly exploitable potential. He could be cast in films of international standard. Special rolls could be written for him. Can we forget his famous Punjabi films ‘TOOFAN’ directed by Hassan Askari. His performance in that film was an example of his acting ability and performance potential. Two more examples can be quoted of his potential as an actor. During climax scenes of Bashira when he unwraps white sheet cloth from around his body and speaks his lines addressing Ilyas Kashmiri who was not allowing ‘RUKHSATI’ proceedings of Aalia. Then the shot of ‘Wehshi Jatt’ in which he is displaying how to defend himself against attack of a group of persons with the help of a staff (da’ang).

How unfortunate that mystery of his murder remains unresolved as on date. The irony is that Pakistani Police (which beyond any doubt is exceptionally competent to trace blind murders) could not unearth the facts of his murder. May be there were some stake holders who were powerful enough not to be brought into the net of investigation. Could this happen in a developed country that their top notch actor who got listing in Guinness Book of World Records is murdered on a highway and no agency of that country could trace the killer. Can we believe that during the process of change of deflated tire, a dacoit appeared from road side, held up Rahi at gun point and finally fired inside mouth of Rahi and that is it. It is very hard to believe this all. His fans are still in a state of suspense and would be relieved only when they come to know as to what exactly happened.