Archive for March, 2018

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New York Times obituary of Shammi takes me back to her life that I saw on the silver screen.  Her career began in 1949 when Sheikh Mukhtar offered her a role in Ustad Pedro. Shammi worked in 200 movies, out of these I remember watching only two – Malhar and Sangdil, for me these two are enough to judge her superb acting.

Shammi is known to play supporting roles but she also played a memorable lead role in Malhar. Later on she came to be dubbed funny girl but it was in Malhar she proved she can play a happy innocent girl as well as an anguished woman. Malhar will always be remembered  for its songs by Indiwar and Kaif-Irfani and by its music composed by Roshan,  Hrithik Roshan’s grandfather, but I will also remember it for the pathos created by Shammi’s acting. Later I discovered it was also the first movie produced by the famous playback singer Mukesh .

I saw Sangdil during my teenage days with the school friends at Plaza cinema Karachi. There were various reasons to watch the movie. First, it was an adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre; second, because of the most popular leading pair Dilip Kumar and Madhubala and third because of its songs by Rajendra Krishan and music by Sajjad. Shammi was the least of the reasons, in fact we did not even know that Shammi and another great actress Kuldip Kaur were also in the cast. We were so surprised that Talat Mahmood’s popular song ‘Yeh hawa yeh raat yeh chandini’ was actually picturized on Shammi and not Madhubala. I still remember Shammi’s style of playing sitar while Dilip rendered the ghazal.

Born in a Parsi family Shammi’s real name was Nargis Rabadi she was 89. Her death coincides with the International Women’s Day and that is a good reason for me to write on a lesser known woman who in her side roles kept a large audience entertained for decades. I congratulate the New York Times for making  ‘Overlooked’ a regular feature.


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