Film star Habib dies at 85

Condolences pour in over demise of acting legend

Our Correspondent February 25, 2016
Habibur Rehman. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: Acting legend Habibur Rehman succumbed to prolonged illness on Thursday. Commonly known as film star Habib, he was the heartthrob of his time; an actor who was on the forefront of a class of suave, urbanised youth who had begun taking up film as a profession.

Almost five years ago, Habib had undergone brain surgery but he was never able to fully recover. A recent brain haemorrhage forced him to return to the hospital, where he breathed his last at the age of 85.

“He was an icon to say the least. What we call Lollywood’s golden age was golden because of people like him,” actor Nisho Begum told The Express Tribune. She said Habib’s influence was such that despite the passing of several decades, no one could replace him.

Veteran film actor Durdana Rehman concurred with Nisho. She said, “Habib remained on top of his game throughout his career. He was always very supportive towards newcomers.”

Almost 24 years ago, the Ministry of Women Development had requested him make a film on the practice of karo-kari (honour killing) prevalent in the country. He had willingly obliged and poured his life’s earnings into the project, casting mega stars of the time such as Sultan Rahi, Ghulam Mohiuddin and Hina Shaheen. Bakhshi Wazir had put together music for the film, which was named Baghi. The film managed to do reasonably well. The government had promised to reimburse the expenses possibly thinking that promises are meant to be broken. The subsequent years broke not only Habib’s back but also his war chest.

During his last days at the intensive care unit of Lahore’s Ittefaq Hospital, Habib was battling financial woes. “Two weeks ago, he had purchased a packet of envelopes to write letters to government officials again. He knocked doors of all politicos but to no avail. Things never remained the same for us after Baghi,” his wife had told The Express Tribune.

Film veteran Mustafa Qureshi said Habib was a performer of the highest stature. “He was so friendly with everyone … I vividly remember his punctuality on the film sets. Everyone wanted to be like him,” he recalled.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th,  2016.

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