LAHORE: As the wife of a renowned Bollywood music composer, the now 88-year-old Ghulam Fatima has seen many colourful moments back in the day. She has witnessed the golden era of Indian cinema first-hand, considering she along with her husband — the late Feroze Nizami — rubbed shoulders with the who’s who of the Indian entertainment industry.
“I used to entertain people such as Lata Mangeshkar, Madhubala, Vyjayanthimala and Dilip Kumar at our house; they all considered my husband their ustaad,” Fatima told The Express Tribune, whose husband was one of the finest music composers of the Indian film industry. “Dilip was actually one of his most beloved pupils,” she recalled.
According to Fatima, it was upon her request that film-maker Shaukat Hussain Rizvi decided to cast Dilip in his film Jugnu. “He had become very disappointed by the failure of his film Jwar Bhata. Feroze requested Shaukat to give Dilip a chance and luckily, Jugnu became a hit and Dilip, a superstar!”
Similar was the case with singer Mohammad Rafi who also got his big break in Jugnu on account of Fatima and Feroze.
“It was me who looked after him at my home in Bombay, when he had moved there and was struggling to make ends meet. It was upon our insistence that Shaukat and Madam Noor Jehan agreed to sing with Rafi and he became famous for the song Yahaan Badla Wafa Ka Bewafayi Ke Siwah Kiya Hai.”
Feroze went onto compose hits, such as Chandni Raatein and Tere Mukhre Da Kala Kala Til, and gave music for films such as Dupatta, Sukoon, Qismat and Chanway. Fatima takes pride in how she along with her husband helped people such as Dilip and Rafi come to the limelight. “It was Feroze and myself who brought these legends to where they are today. I am glad they remembered us and made it a point to call, even after we moved to Pakistan,” she said.
Unfortunately, their sentiments were not echoed by the Pakistani population as Faima claims her good times ended soon after Feroze died in 1975. Once the go-to guide to the stars, Fatima has now been confined to a one-bedroom rental in Jogi Mohallah at Lahore’s Bhatti Chowk. And what’s more, she is struggling to get back to her hometown of Bhendi Bazaar, India, despite being unable to leave her bed.
“In the beginning, I was satisfied with our decision to migrate to Pakistan as the film industry here was developing and Feroze was considered a top-notch music director. He was working on the music of 16 films!” shared Fatima. “I never expected my life to take such a turn after he was gone. I have five sons and all of them are doing odd jobs to make a living.”
Fatima is full of resent for the Pakistani government, which she accuses of overlooking those who help the nation’s cause. “This does not happen to artists or their families in India as the government there supports them. Here, I have submitted multiple applications to request for assistance — even to Punjab CM — but to no avail,” she revealed. “Now, all I ask is that if they cannot support me, they should kindly arrange for me to just go back to my country so I can die in peace there.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2016.