Almost a near contemporary of the legendary Ibn-e-Safi, Akram Allahabadi also had a huge fan following. His characters, particularly, Inspector Khan and sergeant Baley, also have a secured place in the history of Urdu literature.
Unfortunately, Akram Allahabadi is not remembered as much, as he ought to be. In my childhood, I remember, almost every AH Wheeler bookstall across India, had his novels on display along with Jasoosi Duniya.
I still recall how elders would talk about Ibn-e-Safi’s ‘Deo Paikar Darinda’ or ‘Zamin ke Badal’ in the same breath as Allahabadi’s ‘Junction Bilara’ and ‘Salazar series’ or Sputnik which were all immensely popular novels.
Syed Mohammad Akram, who was born in 1922, was born in a zamindar family in Allahabad. He was sent to Bhopal for studies but fell in love with a girl and was later sent to Kanpur. After his graduation, Akram Allahabadi took to journalism and joined an Urdu daily in Allahabad, in 1946.
Akram Allahabadi started several daily newspapers and magazines, edited journals and later shifted to Mumbai. A prolific writer, his novels were sell-outs. He married a woman who had African ancestry.
Unlike H Iqbal or others who wrote novels, copying the characters of Ibn-e-Safi, viz. Imran, Faridi-Hameed, Akram Allahabadi had his own style. Sometimes, I felt, that he wrote in a hurry and didn’t take a second glance, because in a couple of his novels the story line grew fantastically but the minute details were often ignored.
I remember another of his character, Inspector Madhulkar who along with his assistant Raazi, took on gangsters and mysterious criminals.
After Ibn-e-Safi’s demise, Akram Allahabadi also, apparently lost interest. His ‘competitor’ had gone. A trade unionist, he remained active in his later years. Today his novels are rare to find but the legend of Akram Allahabadi grows.
Akram Allahabadi [also spelt as Akram ILAHABADI] was a writer of scores of bestsellers in the era of 1950s to late 70s and thereafter. A Facebook group and the plan of his family members and fans to publish his novels has also generated interest among the lovers of Urdu detective fiction.