Qateel Shifai was born as Muhammad Aurangzeb in 1919 in British India (now Pakistan). He was of Hindkowan background.
He adopted Qateel Shifai as his pen name in 1938, under which he was known in the world of Urdu poetry. “Qateel” was his “takhallus” and “Shifai” was in honour of his ustaad (teacher) Hakeem Mohammed Yahya Shifa Khanpuri, whom he considered his mentor.
Due to his father’s death in 1935, Qateel was forced to quit his higher education. He started his own sporting goods shop. Being unsuccessful in his business, he decided to move from his small town to Rawalpindi, where he started working for a transport company and later joined the Pakistani film industry in 1947 as a film song lyricist. “His father was a businessman and there was no tradition of sher-o-shayari in his family. Initially, he showed his poetry to Hakeem Yahya Shifa Khanpuri for correction and advice. Qateel derived his poetic surname ‘shifai’ from him. Later, he became the disciple of Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi who was his friend and neighbor.”
“In 1946, he was called to Lahore by Nazir Ahmed to work as the assistant editor of the monthly ‘Adab-e-Latif’, a literary magazine published since 1936. His first ghazal was published in the Lahore weekly ‘Star’, edited by Qamar Ajnalvi.”