Qateel Shifai was born on 24th December, 1919. His actual name is Aurangzeb Khan. Qateel Shifai is his nom de plume, the pen-name under which he is known in the world of Urdu poetry. “Qateel” is his “takhallus” and “Shifai” is in honour of his ustaad Hakim Mohammed ‘Shifa’ whom he considered his mentor.
His father’s death at an early age, forced Qateel to quit his education and start his own sporting goods shop. Success eluded him and he moved to Rawalpindi, where he worked at a transport company for a monthly salary of Rs.60. Finally in 1946, Nazir Ahmed called him to Lahore and made him the assistant editor of the monthly ‘Adab-e-Latif’.
Qayeel Shifai’s first ghazal was printed in the Lahore weekly ‘Star’, whose editor was Qamar Jalalabadi. In January 1947, a Lahore based film producer asked Qateel to pen the songs for his forthcoming film. His first film as a lyricist was “Teri Yaad”. Since then he has won numerous awards as a lyricist. He has had quite a few of his poem collections published, one of which being “Mutriba” which was awarded the highest literature award in Pakistan.
Qateel’s primary contribution to Urdu poetry has been to raise the standards of ghazals in films. Though this work was started by Tanvir Alvi and Sahir Ludhianvi,it has been brought to its natural conclusion by Qateel Shifai. His work brought a certain standard to ghazals in films and gave it a certain respectability. His work also brought Urdu poetry closer to the masses by using simple words, quite often words taken from Hindi.
Qateel Shifai has also been known for his collaborations with Jagjit and Chitra Singh on numerous ghazal albums.