Famed Indian lyricist, poet, author, screenwriter, and film director Gulzar has been a major figure in Bollywood for over six decades. He started doing odd jobs as a teenager and eventually entered films, where he made a name for himself as a lyricist and screenwriter. He soon started directing films as well. He is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards.
Saadat Hasan Manto was a Pakistani playwright, writer, and author. Best remembered for his 22 collections of short stories, Manto was renowned for writing about the bitter truths of society. Not surprisingly, he was tried for obscenity on six occasions but was never convicted. Considered one of the 20th century's finest Urdu-language writers, Manto is the subject of two movies.
Muhammad Iqbal was a Scholar, poet, and politician. Born in British India (present-day Pakistan), Iqbal's poetry in Persian and Urdu languages is regarded as one of the greatest of the modern era. Also an influential politician, Muhammad Iqbal's vision of an independent Muslim state helped inspire the creation of Pakistan where he is recognized as the national poet.
Jon Elia was a poet, biographer, philosopher, and scholar. Best remembered for his unconventional ways, Elia is widely regarded as one of the most important modern Urdu poets. Apart from writing in Urdu, Jon Elia was also fluent in several other languages including Sanskrit, Hebrew, English, and Persian.
Faiz Ahmad Faiz was a Pakistani author and poet whose work remains influential in Pakistan. An avowed Marxist, Faiz was honored with the prestigious Lenin Peace Prize in 1962. In 1976, his work earned him the Lotus Prize for Literature. Faiz Ahmad Faiz's literary work was honoured posthumously by the Pakistan Government by conferring upon him the Nishan-e-Imtiaz in 1990.
Lal Shahbaz Qalandar was a Sufi poet and saint of present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan. Revered by the Sindhi population, Shahbaz is credited with helping many people convert to Islam. A profound scholar of religions, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is viewed as a holy figure in Sindh as it is believed that he performed many miracles during his time.
Muhammad Taqi Usmani is an Islamic scholar and former judge from Pakistan. An intellectual leader of an Islamic revivalist movement called Deobandi, Usmani has written many books in Urdu, English, and Arabic. In 2019, Muhammad Taqi Usmani was honored by the President of Pakistan with the prestigious Sitara-i Imtiaz.
Tehmina Durrani is a Pakistani author and artist. She is also a well-known activist for women's and children's rights. She came to prominence after writing a book about being abused by her famous politician husband, Ghulam Mustafa Khar, who she divorced. She actively supports the social rehabilitation of women. She later married politician Shahbaz Sharif.
Shaan Shahid is a Pakistani actor, model, film director, writer, and producer. One of the most popular and highest-paid actors of Pakistan, Shahid has won several prestigious awards like the National Film Awards, Nigar Awards, ARY Film Award, and Lux Style Awards. In 2007, Shaan Shahid was honored with the Pride of Performance Award by the Government of Pakistan.
Osman Khalid Butt is a Pakistani actor, choreographer, and writer. Butt is best known for playing important roles in highly popular and successful TV series like Diyar-e-Dil, Baaghi, Ehd-e-Wafa, and Chupke Chupke. Over the years, Osman Khalid Butt has won several prestigious awards such as Hum Awards and Pakistan Excellence Award.
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi is a Pakistani Muslim theologian, Islamic modernist, Quran scholar, and educationist. He is also the founding president of the Islamic research institute Al-Mawrid Institute of Islamic Sciences and its sister organization Danish Sara. Currently, he is the principal research fellow of the Ghamidi Center of Islamic Learning in the United States.
Fatima Bhutto is a Pakistani writer and journalist. She is the daughter of politician Murtaza Bhutto and a granddaughter of former Prime Minister and President of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. She studied at the University of London. As a journalist, she has written for The News and The Guardian among other publications. She is multilingual.
Waris Shah was a Punjabi Sufi poet best remembered for his immense contribution to Punjabi literature. He is renowned for his work Heer Ranjha, which has been adapted into many feature films and TV series. Waris Shah's life and career inspired the 2006 internationally acclaimed Indian Punjabi language film, Waris Shah: Ishq Daa Waaris.
Pakistani poet Parveen Shakir was known for enriching female participation in Urdu literature. She often wrote on feminist themes, such as oppression of women and their sexuality, and chose free verse and ghazal as her mode of writing. She was later honored with the Pride of Performance award.
Mohsin Hamid is a British Pakistani writer, novelist, and brand consultant. He is best known for his debut novel Moth Smoke which became a cult hit in India and Pakistan. Over the years, Mohsin Hamid has been honored with several prestigious awards such as Sitara-i-Imtiaz. In 2013, he was named in the 100 Leading Global Thinkers list by Foreign Policy.
A prominent Pakistani spiritual leader, Riaz Ahmed Gohar Shahi pioneered movements such as RAGS International, later renamed the Messiah Foundation International. He also penned numerous books, such as Deen-e-Ilahi, or The Religion of God, and Taryaq e Qalb, the latter being a book on Sufi poems.
Ahmad Faraz was a Pakistani scriptwriter and poet. Counted among the most popular revolutionary poets of Urdu language, Faraz has won many prestigious awards and honors like the Hilal-e-Imtiaz and Sitara-i-Imtiaz. The Government of Pakistan honored Ahmad Faraz with a posthumous Hilal-e-Pakistan award for his contribution to Urdu literature and poetry.
A renowned journalist and political commentator, Hassan Nisar gained fame as a host on the Geo News show Choraha, which was also the name of his column that he wrote for the Jang Group. He was a talented Urdu poet, too. He was a supporter of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
Initially an English lecturer at the Army Public College in Sialkot, Pakistani author Umera Ahmad later devoted herself to writing and emerged as one of the best-known authors of Urdu fiction and screenplays. The novel Pir-e-Kamil and the drama series Meri Zaat Zarra-e-Benishan remain her best-known works.
Wasif Ali Wasif was a Pakistani poet, writer, and teacher. Renowned for his literary works, Wasif is one of the most cited Urdu writers of his generation. Wasif Ali Wasif is credited with creating many aphorisms that have been used as proverbs in recent years. He also contributed immensely as a columnist to the Urdu daily newspaper Nawa-i-Waqt.
Rahman Baba is remembered as one of the most influential Pashtun poets of all time. Best known for his anthology Dīwān, he had been revered by people throughout the Indian subcontinent and even in Afghanistan and Central Asia. He was known for dealing with complex themes in simple language.
Farhat Ishtiaq is a Pakistani writer, screenwriter, and author best known for writing romantic novels like Diyar-e-Dil, Mata-e-Jaan Hai Tu, and Humsafar. Over the years, Farhat Ishtiaq has received many awards like the Hum Honorary Phenomenal Serial Awards and Lux Style Award.
Legendary Urdu writer Qudrat Ullah Shahab, who mostly wrote using his pseudonym Shahab, is best remembered for his works such as Yaa-Khuda and Nafsaane. He also penned his spiritual experiences in his memoir, Shahab Nama. A fine politician, too, he was Pakistan’s ambassador to the Netherlands and had also worked for UNESCO.
A hardcore Marxist-Leninist, Habib Jalib was not just a poet but also a pro-democracy political activist. Part of the Progressive Writers' Movement, he was known as the poet of the masses and penned revolutionary poems such as Dartay hain bandookon walay aik nihatti ladki say, in support of Benazir Bhutto.
One of the greatest Punjabi Sufi poets, Khwaja Ghulam Farid was part of the Chishti Nizami Sufi order. Remembered for his iconic works such as Diwan-e-Farid and Fawaid Faridia, he wrote in various languages such as Urdu, Persian, and Sindhi. He was also a scholar of Arabic, Braj Bhasha, and other languages.
Mohsin Naqvi was a Pakistani poet best remembered for his ghazals, a form of amatory poem. His literary work earned him the honorific title Iqbal e Sani and he became renowned as the Poet of Ahl-e-bait. Mohsin Naqvi's involvement with the Shia Muslim community is said to be the reason behind his murder in 1996 at the age of 48.
Pakistani poet Munir Niazi was one of the most popular Punjabi and Urdu poets of his time. The Pride of Performance winner is also remembered as one of the greatest songwriters of Pakistani film music, with his poems featuring as songs in films such as Shaheed and Susral.
Best known for his comic poems, Pride of Performance-winning Pakistani poet Anwar Masood has also been a renowned professor of Persian. Though he has written in Urdu and Persian, too, he is most famous for his Punjabi poems. His iconic works include Anar Kali Diyan Shanan and Mela Akhian Da.
Muhammad Ilyas Qadri is a Sufi Islamic preacher and scholar from Pakistan. He is best known as the founding leader of an influential religious organization called Dawat-e-Islami, which has followers in nearly 200 countries. Muhammad Ilyas Qadri is also credited with authoring Faizan-e-Sunnat, a popular Islamic religious text.
Nicknamed Shair-e-Inquilaab, Josh Malihabadi remains revered as one of the finest Urdu poets of his time. Best known for his couplets and rubaiyats, he was part of the Progressive Writers' Movement. A Padma Bhushan winner, he penned some of the best revolutionary poems, such as Hussain aur Inquilab.
Ibn-e-Insha was a Pakistani poet, travelogue writer, humorist, and newspaper columnist. He is counted among the best humorists of Urdu language. Insha's work, especially his poetic style, has influenced generations of young poets. In 1978, Ibn-e-Insha was honored by the President of Pakistan with the prestigious Pride of Performance Award.
Zulfikar Ghose is a Pakistani-American poet, novelist, and essayist. Best known for his work that explores magical realism, Ghose gained international recognition in the 1970s for his trilogy The Incredible Brazilian. Apart from writing poems, fictional, and non-fictional works, Zulfikar Ghose has also worked as a teacher at prestigious institutions like the University of Texas in Austin.
Rais Amrohvi was a Pakistani poet, scholar, psychoanalyst, and paranormal investigator. A fierce supporter of the Urdu language, Amrohvi is remembered for his efforts to promote and popularize the language. He wrote extensively on a variety of topics, such as meditation, metaphysics, and yoga. Rais Amrohvi also contributed to the Pakistani newspaper Jang for many years.
Afghan warrior and revolutionary leader Bayazid Roshan, or Pir Roshan, was also a talented poet. Best remembered for founding the populist Roshani movement, he penned iconic works such as Khayr al-Bayān, the first book in Pashto. He also led an armed movement against the Mughals, to safeguard the rights of Pashtuns.
Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi was a Pakistani poet, dramatist, short story writer, literary critic, and journalist who wrote in Urdu language. An important personality in contemporary Urdu literature, Qasmi is credited with inspiring other famous poets like Gulzar. In 1968, he was honored with the Pride of Performance award. In 1980, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi was awarded Sitara-e-Imtiaz for his literary work.
Talib Jauhari was a Pakistani poet, Islamic scholar, historian, and philosopher. Best remembered for his association with the Shia sect of Islam, Jauhari is widely regarded as the most important Shia scholar. Talib Jauhari's contributions earned him the prestigious Sitara-i-Imtiaz from the Government of Pakistan.
Nasir Kazmi was a Pakistani poet who wrote in Urdu language. He is best remembered for using simple words and short verses in his poetry. His poetry is still used widely in Indian Bollywood films and on TV shows in Paksitan. In 2013, a commemorative postage stamp was released by Pakistan Post to commemorate Nasir Kazmi's death.
Amjad Islam Amjad is a Pakistani poet, lyricist, and drama writer. A popular literary figure, Amjad has been honored with several prestigious awards such as Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Pride of Performance Award. Many of his songs have been recorded by popular singers like Jagjit Singh, Ghulam Ali, Ustad Hamid Ali Khan, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
Jamiluddin Aali was a Pakistani poet, playwright, columnist, essayist, critic, and scholar. He is remembered for writing popular songs like Jeevay Jeevay Pakistan which became highly popular during the 1965 Indo-Pak War. In 1991, Jamiluddin Aali was awarded Pride of Performance. In 2004, he was honored with the prestigious Hilal-e-Imtiaz by the President of Pakistan.
Pakistani author Ahmed Ali is remembered as one of the pioneers of the Urdu short story format. A co-founder of the All-India Progressive Writers Movement, he soared to international fame with his novels Twilight in Delhi and Of Rats and Diplomats. His short-story anthology Angarey was initially banned.
Pakistani actor Sonia Khan started her entertainment career as a child actor and later became one of the most prominent names of Lollywood. Known for her films such as Dhanak and Sahiba, she moved to Norway following her marriage, only to make a comeback later with the series Saya-e-Dewar Bhi Nahi.
Qateel Shifai was a Pakistani lyricist and poet whose works have been translated into many languages including English, Chinese, Russian, and Hindi. Apart from writing lyrics for Pakistani film songs, he also contributed to Indian film songs. In 1994, Qateel Shifai’s contribution to literature was honored by the Government of Pakistan with the prestigious Pride of Performance Award.
Ehsan Danish was a Pakistani poet, linguist, prose writer, scholar, and lexicographer. Widely regarded as one of the best poets, Danish is remembered for his revolutionary poems for the laborers and the oppressed, which earned him the title Shair-e-Mazdoor. In 1978, Ehsan Danish was honored by the President of Pakistan with the prestigious Sitara-e-Imtiaz.
Shabana Rehman Gaarder is a Pakistani-Norwegian writer, columnist, and stand-up comedian. She is best known for her controversial discussions on immigration of Muslims in Norway; these discussions are commonly called the Shabana debate.
Best known for his ghazals and nazms, Mustafa Zaidi initially wrote using the pseudonym Tegh Allahabadi. Honored with Tamgha-e-Quaid-e-Azam, he was also employed with the Pakistan Civil Services but was dismissed later. He was found dead in 1970, and though many believe it was a suicide, the case remains unsolved.