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February 16, 2017

Sensation of yesteryear Shabnam brings back past glamour


February 16, 2017

The undisputed queen of Pakistani cinema for almost three decades says if she got a worthwhile offer, she would definitely consider it

It was a moment of extreme nostalgia as Shabnam, film star of yesteryear, walked into the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday afternoon to address the members and recall the past when she was Pakistan’s most wanted film personality.

Decades may have rolled by but Shabnam has resisted the ravages of time most resolutely. She looked as attractive and alluring as she did 40 years ago when she was at the prime of her film career in Pakistan, before she emigrated to Bangladesh, skin as glowing as it was long ago, the same bewitching smile, and attired immaculately in a sari.

Another matinee idol, Mustafa Qureshi, said, “Shabnam has come to her own home. She gave the best years of her life to Pakistan.” 

Turning to Shabnam, he said: “We can’t forget Robin Ghosh [Shabnam’s late husband] but we see him through you. You occupy the same niche in our hearts that you always did. The Pakistan film world is indebted to you for the things you did to put Pakistan on the film map of the world.”

Qureshi lamented the Pakistan government’s “step-motherly treatment to the local film industry” and said that as a result most of the film studios in Lahore which were synonymous with Shabnam were lying locked and idle. Many of the film personalities of that vintage, he said, were living amid economic hardship.

He said that this was testament to the fact that as a nation, we were bereft of patriotism.

Replying, Shabnam said that if she got a worthwhile offer, she would definitely consider it. She said she never went anywhere without Robin, but now she had to. At this juncture, she almost broke down, voice quivering.

The organisers were having a hard time maintaining order with the multitude of TV cameramen shouting at the photographers while Shabnam was speaking. That disturbed the speaker and distracted attention. 

The photographers on their part were just rushing to the dais, jostling one another in a show of absolute indiscipline. It looked as if a stampede were on. Conversely, it also showed how everybody was going overboard with excitement over the presence of such an attractive person.

Shabnam was active in the Pakistani film industry, Lollywood, in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Born in Dhaka, she was considered a versatile, romantic and most popular actress in her time.

Shabnam played the leading role in Aina, which holds the distinction for being the longest running Pakistani film on record. 

Speaking at a star-studded panel discussion, titled ‘Cinema across the Borders’, at the recently concluded eighth Karachi Literature Festival 2017, superstars Shabnam and Nadeem Baig, two of the most beautiful and talented people Pakistani cinema ever had and perhaps the country’s best on-screen couple, reminisced about the glory days of the past.

Having lost none of her grace and beauty even after almost 40 years since she was the undisputed queen of Pakistani cinema, Shabnam observed that the film industry should not be dragged into politics, whether in Pakistan or in India.

“Artistes spread happiness and there shouldn’t be any boundaries for that,” remarked the Bengali legend, whose mere presence at the session had left the Beach Luxury Hotel’s main garden cramped for space.

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