Qateel Shifai was born in Haripur, Hazara Division, British India (now
). He adopted Qateel Shifai
as his pen name in 1938 under which he was known in the world of Urdu poetry.
"Qateel" was his "takhallus" and "Shifai" was in
honour of his ustaad(master) Hakeem Mohammed 'Shifa' whom he considered his
Due to his father's early death, Qateel was forced to quit his education. He started his own sporting goods shop. Being unsuccessful in his business he decided to move to
, where he
started working for a transport company and earned about 60 Rupees a month. Rawalpindi
In 1946, he was called to
by Nazir Ahmed to work as the assistant editor of the monthly 'Adab-e-Latif', a
literary magazine published since 1936. His first ghazal was published in the Lahore weekly 'Star',
edited by Qamar Jalalabadi. Lahore
In January 1947, Qateel was asked to pen the songs of a film by a
based film producer. The first film he
penned the lyrics for was "Teri Yaad". After that there was no
looking back and initially, after working for some time as assistant lyricist
to some of the famous poets/lyricists of the time (c.1947-48 to 1956-57), he
eventually became a regular film lyricist and won numerous awards in due
course. Many of his poem collections were published, one amongs them being
"Mutriba" which got him the highest literature award in Lahore . Pakistan
To raise the standards of ghazals in films has been Qateel's primary contribution to Urdu poetry. This was already started by Tanvir Naqvi and Sahir Ludhianvi, but perpetuated and concluded by Qateel Shifai. By using simple words and a larger amount of Hindi, Qateel brought Urdu poetry closer to the masses. He established a certain standard to ghazals in films and gave them a certain respectability.
Qateel Shifai worked on numerous ghazal albums with Jagjit and Chitra Singh, as well as with Ghulam Ali to name a few.
Over 20 collections of verse and over 2,500 songs for Pakistani and Indian films were published. His poetry has been translated into numerous languages including Hindi, Gujarati, English, Russian and Chinese.
Qateel Shifai received the 'Pride of Performance Award' in 1994 for his contribution to literature, 'Adamjee Award', 'Naqoosh Award', 'Abbasin Arts Council Award' and 'Amir Khusro Award' in
Qateel Shifai produced a film in his mother language—Hindko—in 1970. It was the first Hindko film which was named "Qissa Khwani". The film was released in 1980. He died on 11 July 2001 in
The street on which he lived in Lahore
has been named Lahore Qateel Shifai
Street after him. There is also a sector of
Haripur city that has been named after him - Mohallah Qateel Shafai.
His poetry is included in the masters' level syllabus in many universities in
Pakistan and . India