Akram Allahabadi: Doyen of Urdu detective fiction

Akram Allahabadi was a writer who attained immense popularity in the genre of Urdu detective fiction in the sub-continent.

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.

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35 Responses

  1. beautifully said–when his competitor passed away akram allahbadi too lost interest –they were trend setters , pace setters, their compositions are invested to urdu archive classics

  2. Jyotsna ji, hats off to your love for the language. You are always quick to respond and post your comment on the blog.

  3. Thanks for this post — I hadn’t heard of Akram Allahabadi; hopefully, now that one sees English translations of Ibn Safi’s books in bookstores across the country, bringing his work to a wider audience, Allahabadi’s work will also reach the contemporary public. Any clues where one might be able to buy his books?

  4. Sir,your information on Late Mr Akram Allahabadi seems to be very detailed.I am one of the daughters of Mr Akram Allahabadi.If you have any of my father’s books with you,i would like to sincerely request you to please share them with us,because we are planning to reprint his novels and we unfortunately do not have all his books in our collection.Please contact me on farhatchagla@yahoo.co.in
    Thank you.

  5. Adnan Saahab, All I can say is a sincere thank you… for the interest you have shown in propagating this beautiful language and writing this heartwarming short article in remembrance of Akram Allahabadi Sahab. God bless you.

    Syed Mohd. Shahid Akram.

    • Respected Sir, I was stunned to learn that something was available about my beloved detective writer(Akram Ilahabadi), Beleive me that day I was very myuch distressed due to some personal problem but suddenly became overjoyed and all my sadness disappeared when google search engine helped me in collecting information about the creator of Col: Khan and Captain Balay. I had got the treasure which many of his fans were searching for for a long time. Thanks Google and those who uploaded this info:.
      Virtually when I began reading stories in my early child hood, it was quite odd that I never joined those readers’ clubs where Mazahar Kaleem or some other ordinary type fiction writers were being red. Ibn-e-Saffi and Ilah Abadi were read by only a handful reader and fortunately I was among those fews.,

      I belong to Pathan family of Tank a settled district adjacent to South Waziristan Agency a tribal belt , boardering Afghanistan. by profession I am a journalist with having masters in Mass Communication and Urdu literature.

      Recently I sent an article about Ibn-e-Safi for publication/online display to Bazm-i- Qalam Website perhaps from Hyderabad Dakan. But let me memention that the article which I had written about 25 years ago still lacks information about Ilah Abadi as most of the contemporary books/magazine or some other version (which could help me in compiling info about him) were not available for me in n this regard. I was extremely sorry to send my article which had no considerable info about him .Hope we would be intouch in future to extend the matter further . As you know that Websites have been launched by some people(lovers of detective fiction) on Ibn-i- Safi and it is quite an odd that none has yet come forward to face the challange which 60 years ago was accepted by Ilahabadi .

      Hope You would

      AKHTAR SHAHZAD (DERA ISMAIL KHAN) Khyber Pakhtun Khwa Pakistan, cell phone ..0333 976 06 46

      • Ibn-e-safi is a name introduced to me when I started reading jassoosi fiction in urdu, –huma digest, published from delhi, i enjoy world famous detective stories translated in urdu , it gives an exotic flavour, adding so much more fun to the themes,

  6. I LIKE JASOOSI NOVELS

  7. PLZ ANYBADY SEND ME AKRAM ALLAHBADI NOVELS MY ID IS ZEROBLACK54@YAHOO.COM THANKS

  8. Dear sir I got adequate info about my favorit detective writer but still there is dire need of more information rather a website revealing details of novels by late Ilahabdi ,about his family,contribution by different writers about Akaram Alahbadi . i am thankful to those people who displayed such a treasure of info likewise Ibne Saffi .
    It is regretting that my preveious detailed letter is not being displayed hitherto.
    AKHTAR SHAHZAD TANK(DIKhan KPK) Pakistan 0333 9760646

  9. Respected Mr. Syed Shahid Akram and the Website administration it quite odd that my two letters posted during last couple of days are not being displayed. I am one of the reader and fan of Akram Allahahabdi
    in Dera Ismail Khan (Pakistan). There is need to publish his novels and contribute articles on his detective writing which lasted impects on the minds of readers across the subcontinent even after so many years since his death . A website is already functional on Ibn i Safi, there must be on Late Akram Alahbadi.

    AKHTAR SHAHZAD DERA ISMAIL KHAN (PAKISTAN)

    • yes some kind ofnew news letter or magazine must be launched in urdu for urdu readers

    • My Apologies Khan Saheb, I may have missed your letters. We are in the process of starting a website in the name of Janaab Akram Allahabadi Sahab. A major chunk of his writing has been lost or misplaced, hence the delay. We are trying to search even for his articles and poems written at different stages. InshaAllah aap sab ki dua se, we will be able to finish this herculean task. To begin with I am currently in the process of registering an NGO in his name as he was an active social activist too, and believed in helping all those who approached him and all those in need. I wish to bring forth both his literary work and his social work to the fore. Pray I succeed.

      Syed Mohd. Shahid Akram.

  10. adab, some names are new to new readeers, present generation i believe hates reading books, as they spend more time on videos and watching TV shows, reading habit is lost almost, if serials are made ppl would enjoy the fiction translated visuals in urdu

  11. بزم قلم پر آپ نے نے ابن صفی پر جو مضمون بھیجا تھا، وہ تو ہماری نظر سے نہیں گزرا، اس کے نگراں کار دبئی میں مقیم ہیں۔ آپ اپنا مضمون مجھے ارسال کیجیے، بزم پر آویزاں کردوں گا۔
    zest70pk@gmail.com

    اگر آپ ابن صفی کی تحاریر کے اسیر ہیں تو خاکسار کی ان پر بنائی گئی یہ نان کمرشل سائٹ ملاحظہ کیجیے
    http://www.wadi-e-urdu.com
    اس کے علاوہ جناب محمد حنیف کی تخلیق کردہ
    http://www.ibnesafi.info
    گزشتہ 14 برس سے فعال ہے۔

    ڈیرہ اسمعیل خان کے ادبی مجلے عطاء سے آپ یقیننا واقف ہوں گے، اس کا تازہ شمارہ آنے کو ہے، مشفق خواجہ پر احقر کا طویل مضمون اس میں شائع ہوگا۔

  12. my above message was in response to Mr Akhter Shahzad following commets:

    Recently I sent an article about Ibn-e-Safi for publication/online display to Bazm-i- Qalam Website perhaps from Hyderabad Dakan. But let me memention that the article which I had written about 25 years ago still lacks information about Ilah Abadi as most of the contemporary books/magazine or some other version (which could help me in compiling info about him) were not available for me in n this regard. I was extremely sorry to send my article which had no considerable info about him .Hope we would be intouch in future to extend the matter further . As you know that Websites have been launched by some people(lovers of detective fiction) on Ibn-i- Safi and it is quite an odd that none has yet come forward to face the challange which 60 years ago was accepted by aIlahabadi .

  13. Hats off for Inscribe for posting latest news owing to urdu adab

  14. I was amazed to read about Akram Allahabadi because I had been a reader of his novel in my younger days in 1964.I used to borrow his books from a book shop who was giving jasoosi upnyas on payment of five paisa for a day and I read the book before day was over. Some time I read two books in a day Although I used to read the books of Ibne Shafi ,and other less popular writers for examp.Shounriksha.but Akram Allahabadi was my fevrit.Khan -Bale character used to bind the reader from begning to end.
    Thanks for the writing on him.

  15. My Dear Adnan Sahab!
    Abt three months ago, my book on ibne safi sahab “kehti hai tujh ko khalq e khuda ghaibana kya” was published from karachi. I have contacted the daughter of Akram allabadi to collect some information about the demise of her father and finally included all info in a footnote.
    Book details can be viewed at this link:
    http://www.wadi-e-urdu.com/a-new-book-on-ibne-safi-june-2012/a-new-book-on-ibne-safi-june-2012/

  16. Sir,I am to add that I was also a regular reader of “Akram Allahabadi ki jasoosi duniya” in my youg age while in GUJRANWALA besides reading Ibne Safi,
    all their books were regularly available in a Library full of novels/fictions.I had a collection of Ibne Safi’s Jasoosi Duniya from Allahabad (print/edition).My late cousin khalid Mehmood Rabbani,a Journalist ,Ptv news controller was a great admirer of Ibne Safi ‘s writings partiularly in light /background of intrigues and their role in World politics.He also wrote articles on Safi’s work.In fact the two contemporaries’writings will remain ever in the minds of their readers.

  17. ‎پچاس سے ستر کے دہائی کے اردو کے منفرد اور مقبول ناول نگار اکرم الہ آبادی کی پیدائش 1922 میں یوپی بھارت کے شہر الہ آبادمیں ایک جاگیردارانہ خاندان میں ھوئی ۔ آپ کو ان کے افسانوی کردار انسپکٹر مدھوکر ، ڈاکٹر سالازار اور اس کے معاون جاسوس رضی تو یاد ھوگے۔ وہ تعلیم کے لیےبھوپال گئے اور ایک لڑکی کے عشق میں گرفتار ھو گئے۔تو گھر والوں نے انھیں کان پور بھجوادیا۔ تعلیم سے فراغت کے بعد وہ 1946 تک الہ آباد کے مقامی جرائد میں لکھتے رھے۔ اسکت بعد ممبئی آکئے اور یہاں ایک جریدے کے مدیر مقرر ھوئے۔ ممبئی کے قیام کے دوران انھوں نے ایک سیاہ فام لڑکی سے شادی کرلی۔
    :::احمد سھیل:::‎

  18. AKRAM ALLAHABADI NOVELS-TITLES & OTHER DETAILS-PDF FILE:

    Novels-Collection-Farooq-Ahmed-Rashid-Ashraf

    اکرم الہ آبادی کے ناول-سرورق اور دیگر تفصیل

    • main pichhle sal akram allahbadi ke 25 nvl liye jin men se ek 959 ka bhi hai aur un men salazar ke bhi teen char nvl hai. bachpan men maine in ke nvl 65-66 men padhe the par itna purana abhi hath laga hai hindi men mere ko urdu nahi aaty hai

  19. NOVELS OF IZHAR ASAR-ONLY TITLES

    اظہار اثر کے ناول..سرورق اور دیگر تفصیل

  20. NOVELS OF MASOOD JAVED-ONLY TITLES

    مسعود جاوید کے ناول.سرورق اور دیگر تفصیل

  21. yhad got 20 nvl of akram allahabadithese are 1960 to 1965 jin men salazar america men,salazr ki vapsy adi bhi hain,ek bhudhiman jasus magazine aaty thi us men hain ji,maine phle bachpan men yeh nvl padhe the ab in dobara padhunga

  22. […] can learn an earlier article, which I had written, on Akram Allahabadi sab on the different weblog. HERE] (C) INDSCRIBE Any publish on this weblog should not be reprinted or republished on another web […]

  23. […] to learn an earlier article, which I had written, on Akram Allahabadi sab on the different weblog. HERE] (C) INDSCRIBE Any submit on this weblog should not be reprinted or republished on some other web […]

  24. […] can learn an earlier article, which I had written, on Akram Allahabadi sab on the different weblog. HERE] (C) INDSCRIBE Any submit on this weblog should not be reprinted or republished on another web site […]

  25. Really these people were “gems”of urdu detective novels…whether a single story structure or a long detective story in series…Ibne safi’s “shola” series ending with Jahanum ka shola” were master piece like Late Akram Allahabadi.junction bilara…the characters created by late Ibne Safi & Akram Allahabadi are immoral.Though copied by novel writers later on but “woh rung naseeb na hua…YARON ne gar che bohut zor mara….Ibne Safi’s another Imran series is still copied and on sale in Pakistan.The characters like Captain Safdar, Juliana and Tanveer including Ali Imran D.Sc with Black zero as his right hand with sooper Fayaz, Rehman sb(Imran’s father) are the in the best characterisation and are thus immoral in the crime thrilling fiction as long as the names Ibne Safi and Akram Allahabadi’ Khan n Baley will remain in this particular fiction world……

  26. A beautiful and informative piece of word memorial. I remember my elder brother was very fond of detective novels by Akram Allahabadi and Ibn-e-Safi. I was in my matric when started reading these novels (when my brother would away). So read many of Allahabadi’s novels, but not as much as Ibn-e-Safi’s (of course also written by others like N Safi, Najma Safi, H. Iqbal etc). A few years back my craziness re-emerged to collect all such books Luckily I have collected all of Ibn-e-Safi’s work but not a single book of Akram Allahabadi. Likewise translations of Teerath Ram Frozepuri are also not available.

    I can understand that declining number of Urdu script readers in India cause scarcity there but surprisingly what happened in Pakistan. Perhaps today’s youth hs no interest in this genre of literature.

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