Muhammad Ali is arguably the best actor to have ever emerged from the Pakistani film industry.
Muhammad Ali was born on 19th April 1931 in the Indian city of Rampur. With four sisters as his siblings, he was the youngest among them all. Till the age of 14, Muhammad Ali had not been enrolled in a school; rather he was taught lessons in Arabic, Urdu, Persian and subjects from a local Madressah. In 1943, he migrated to Multan with his family and stayed in a mosque, where his father was the speaker. On the initiative of Murshid Ali, Muhammad Ali was enrolled in the Islamia College Multan in 1949 so as to seek modern education. Since most of his relatives resided in Hyderabad, Sindh, in 1955 Muhammad Ali shifted to Hyderabad and completed his Intermediate education from City College Hyderabad.
Muhammad Ali knew continuing education would be tough for him. He needed a career to sustain his financial needs hence he started looking for a job. His brother Irshad Ali worked at Radio Pakistan as a drama artist and he was the one who introduced Muhammad Ali to Director Qayyum. Muhammad Ali started his career as a radio artist from Radio Pakistan, Hyderabad Sindh and owing to his captivating voice, made him into a successful radio personality. It ultimately led to the doors of the film industry opening for him.
Muhammad Ali made his debut as an actor with the 1962 film ‘Chiragh Jalta Raha’ and Fatima Jinnah herself inaugurated the film at Nishat cinema. The film was moderately successful however, Muhammad Ali’s talented acting and skilled dialogue delivery was noticed by directors, filmmakers of Lollywood. Very soon, he began to be considered as one of the finest actors of his time. After his first film, his remaining five films featured him in a villain’s role. Ali garnered fame and recognition for his 1963 movie titled ‘Sharaarat’ which was released on Eid-ul-Azha. He worked in dozens of films as a hero and his wife Zeba starred as the female lead besides him numerous times. Muhammad Ali starred in an impressive number of 300 plsu films whereas the ‘Zeba Ali’ pair was so much adorned that both husband and wife starred in no more than 75 movies together!
Muhammad Ali did not become a politician but he remained close friends with former Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He also attended the Islamic Conference in 1974 and met several renowned Muslim leaders such as Yasir Arafat and King Faisal. Muhammad Ali supported Bhutto openly in 1977 for which he was later imprisoned by Zia Ul Haq but relations between the two improved later on. He also served as adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Through the ‘Ali Zaib’ foundation, Muhammad Ali was able to provide care for Thalassemia patients in Sargodha, Faisalabad, Sahiwal and Mianwali. Pakistani film industry’s most reputable and celebrated actor Muhummad Ali passed away due to a sudden heart attack on 19th March 2006.