With a magnetic presence, impassive countenance and piercing eyes, Nisar Ahmad Ansari had all the qualities necessary to play an onscreen villain. His role in Indian cinema, however, extended far beyond this: he remained a screenwriter and director of crime and thriller films in Hindi for two whole decades.
Nisar Ahmad Ansari was more popularly known in Bollywood as N.A. Ansari or Ansari. He was born on 29 August 1917 in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh. On completing his Masters, he travelled to Mumbai to meet a relative. Once he reached his destination, the city fascinated him so much that he decided to move there permanently. A passionate film enthusiast, Ansari could watch foreign films in Mumbai, an opportunity he did not want to let go of.
While in Mumbai, Ansari ran into the filmmaker Mehboob by pure chance. At the time, Mehboob was preparing to start work on his film Aurat (1940). Taken with his new acquaintance, Mehboob cast Ansari in a small role in the film. In 1943, he gave him a more important role in Najma.
An avid reader of detective fiction even when he was a child, Ansari was disappointed with the manner in which detective and crime thrillers were handled in Hindi cinema. He felt sure that there was a lot of room for improvement in the genre. Around this time, Ansari became fast friends with the actor Sheikh Mukhtar. After he directed Mangu in 1954, Sheikh Mukhtar asked him to take on the mantle once again for Mr Lambu (1956). Ansari also appeared in an important role in the film. Following these films, it was five years before Ansari would direct again, but he continued to act in the interim. In 1959, he was signed by G.P. Sippy as the director for Black Cat.
Subsequently, both Wanted (1961) and Tower House (1962), based on stories written by Ansari as well as directed by him, received critical acclaim. With the success he was beginning to enjoy, Ansari decided to try his hand at production. To this purpose, he set up his own film company named Bundel Khand Films. The first venture under this banner was Mulzim (1963). However, three consecutive productions following Mulzim, namely Zindagi Aur Maut (1965), Wahan Ke Log (1967) and Mr Murder (1969), were not the triumphs Ansari had hoped they would be.
Jurm Aur Sazza/ Jurm Aur Sazaa (1974) was the last thriller Ansari made. He did not stop acting, however, appearing in Ranga Khush (1975), Harfan Maulaa (1976) and Maha Badmaash (1977). The last film Ansari directed was Noor-E-Elahi (1976). After the seventies, the rapidly changing times meant that he grew more and more distanced from the film industry. On 11 January 1993, Ansari passed away while with his son in Canada.