Shabnam: A bright star of a bygone era
In the 60s, Shabab and Evernew studios were considered the two best film studios in Lollywood. Any director in Lahore would want to shoot his films there. Like many legends of that era, the beautiful Shabnam also spent most of her time shooting at these locations.
After 14 years, Shabnam returned to Pakistan last month. Although Shahab no longer exists and Evernew is not what it used to be, Shabnam’s fans were keen to have one more glimpse of her as she visited her colleagues in Lahore.
Film technicians who had worked with Shabnam back in the day described her as a courteous, modest and good-natured lady who was friendly on the film sets.
“When Aina was being shot in 1977, she came to Evernew Studio. I was serving as a helper with an assistant at that time,” recalls one such man, now a tailor, who had a chance to meet the legendary actress.
“I once spoke to her while serving tea to the artists on the set. She asked us to pray for the success of her film, which later became a huge hit. She wasn't arrogant at all and spoke to us with great respect,” he added.
Aina, a Pakistani film from 1977 which starred Shabnam and Nadeem, is said to be the longest running Pakistani film on record. It is also called “Pakistan’s only crown jubilee film” with a total running period of 401 weeks in all cinemas and 48 weeks in the main cinemas in Karachi.
The film was a musical success with music composition by Robin Gosh (Shabnam’s husband). The playback singers for the films were Mehdi Hassan, Mehnaz, Alamgir, Nayyara Noor and Akhlaq Ahmed.
As I reminisce the golden days with her return to Pakistan, I remember how mesmerising her performance was in this film. The song “Mujhe Dil Se Na Bhulana” shown in the video above is one of the most celebrated songs of Lollywood.
Another excellent on-screen performance by Shabnam was in Andleeb. The Shabnam-Waheed Murad on screen duo did wonders at the box office and the film ran continuously for 56 weeks in Karachi.
In this film, she performed another timeless hit called “Mere Dil Ki Mehfil”.
Another song featuring Shabnam that brought two great artists together was “Mili Gul Ko Khushboo” sung by Runa Laila for Shabnam in Naseeb Apna Apna - a black and white film from the 70s directed by Qamar Zaidi and produced by Waheed Murad.
I can safely say that Shabnam has been an inspiration for the whole generation - there are over 150 films to her credit, dozens of which are unmatched in Lollywood.
While artists in Lahore’s old studios eagerly waited for her visit, she said herself that she might not find those places to be the same as before. Shabnam’s last film was released some two decades ago; things have changed dramatically for the worse in Lollywood since then.
However, I am positive after hearing her say that she will try her best to contribute something to Lollywood. The hope in my heart to see this Lollywood queen on the silver screen again has been rekindled.
Will we get to see the talented Shabnam in Pakistani movies like Khuda Ke Liye and Bol? I surely hope so!
Read more by Ali here.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Shabnam performed in the song "Mein Jis Din Bhula Doon Tera Pyar". The error is regretted.