K. Asif (14 June 1922 – 9 March 1971) was a film director, film producer and screenwriter who was famous for his work on the Hindi epic motion picture, Mughal-e-Azam (1960).
Born Asif Karim (‘ اصف کریم) in Etawah, Uttar Pradesh, India to parents Dr. Fazal Karim and Bibi Ghulam Fatima. He was the youngest of his siblings with Sikander Begum, wife of versatile actor, director and producer Nazir Ahmed Khan being the eldest; and Masood Karim, the first Muslim president of Sindh Club second in line. Asif went to Bombay to his brother-in-law Nazir Ahmed Khan and later took the name K. Asif. He became a successful director due to his perfectionism in weaving his imagination into an art form and gave birth to Mughal-e-Azam, a legendary film in the Indian Film Industry. He died at age 48.
His directorial debut, Phool (1945), did very well at the box-office due to the casting of and portrayals by famous actors and actresses of the time such as Prithviraj Kapoor, Durga Khote and Suraiya.
In 1944, Asif planned to make a film called Mughal-e-Azam based on the life and times of Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great’s court dancer, with Chandramohan in the male lead and the then upcoming actress Nargis in the female lead. However, in 1946, before the production of the film could begin, the male lead, Chandramohan, died.
At that time, Asif temporarily shelved the film until further notice. He produced his next venture, the film Hulchul, and released it in 1951. At that time, Asif recast Mughal-e-Azam with Dilip Kumar in the male lead and Madhubala in the female lead and began the production of the film in the same year. In 1960, after twelve years in production, Mughal-e-Azam was released and became a huge hit at packed cinema houses across India. With this film, Asif attained legendary status despite having only worked in three productions so far.
After the release and success of Mughal-e-Azam, Asif planned yet another motion picture called Love and God, his first directorial venture to be made completely in color, and began production. The film was to star Guru Dutt in the male lead and Nimmi in the female lead. However, in 1964, when lead actor Guru Dutt died, shooting came to a halt. Then, Asif recast Sanjeev Kumar in the male lead and resumed production of the film. During the production of the film, K. Asif died on 9 March 1971 at the age of 48 and the film was abandoned. In 1986, Asif’s widow, Akhtar Asif released the film in an incomplete form.