The star whose on-screen chemistry with Nadeem was probably the only thing to give youngsters their Mills & Boons fix back in the 60s, is back. Lollywood actor Shabnam, who is also referred to as the Queen of Lollywood, is visiting Pakistan with her music composer-husband Robin Ghosh.
The way the media is chasing the duo is testimony enough to the fact that time has not been able to corrode their popularity in Pakistan. The couple shot to fame as they gave hit after hit back in the days when film and television were the prime source of entertainment.
Shabnam’s trip, which has been sponsored by state-run television network PTV, came as a pleasant surprise to her fans who had lost all hope of her return to Pakistan. Nonetheless, she is here to attend an event being held in her honour by PTV in Lahore.
On her way to Lahore the actor also planned a short trip to Karachi. During her brief two-day stay, the starlet made sure she paid a visit to the ailing comedian Lehri, visited the Governor House and met actor Garaj Babu.
A friendly reunion
Shabnam visited Lehri at his residence that is secretly tucked away in the residential area near National Institute of Public Administration (Nipa). The veteran claimed with a nostalgic tone, “This meeting is like a flashback for me. Lehri’s face reminds me of all the good times we spent together and I thank Allah for fulfilling my wish of meeting him.”
The actor reminisced the good old days that marked the boom of Lollywood and shared how Lehri turned her shooting experiences into memories. “Lehri saab was a very serious person but he still used to crack jokes and bring comedic lightness on to the sets.”
Shabnam consoled the frail-looking comedian, who complained about his depreciating health and about his unfavourable state of living and said she’d take his matter to the Governor’s house. “Lehri is a dear friend and I pray sincerely for his fast recuperation. He should not lose hope so easily.”
The visit to The Governor House
During her meeting with the Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad and while talking to the press within the premises of the Governor House she said, “I feel really happy after talking to the Governor. He expressed his desire to see collaborations between Pakistan and Bangladesh on the grounds of film-making.”
While talking about political and social affiliations with Bangladesh, the Pakistani media quoted the irony that the Bangladesh Cricket Team has been stopped from coming to Pakistan but the duo was given a green signal. To which Ghosh replied, “We believe in the decision making capabilities of the court. The court’s decision must have been in the team’s best interest.”
Pakistan then and now
When asked if the couple felt secure in Pakistan Shabnam stated, “We came here and saw that things are very normal here. Everything is working in sync and I must say the media has grown tremendously since I last came to Pakistan 14 years ago.” Shabnam also added that she “can’t believe this is the same country. If truth be told, for a second I thought I was in some foreign country.”
The actor said that it’s sad that Lollywood did not progress at the speed the rest of the Pakistan did. When asked if she’d ever consider coming back on the silver screen the star said, “I haven’t been offered yet but yes the revival of Lollywood should take place and I will try my best to contribute something to it.” Her husband Ghosh added, “I think other industries within Pakistan should come forward and help in the revival of Lollywood.”
When asked if she is planning to meet Nadeem, the actor said that she in contact with her old friend and will meet him as soon as he gets time.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2012.
Correction: An earlier version of the article incorrectly read ‘National Institute of Public Administration’ as ‘National Institute of Pension Administrators’. The error has been rectified.