Actress Nusrat Ara famous for her character of Bil Batori in popular children’s comedy series Ainak Wala Jinn has passed away at 9am today.
According to media reports, the actor was admitted at the Jinnah Hospital in Lahore due to respiratory issues and was shifted to the ICU due to her deteriorating condition. She was 65 years of age.
The actor will be buried after Maghrib prayers today at the Miyani Sahib graveyard in Lahore.
Nusrat originally resided in Karachi but three decades ago she felt the need to shift to Lahore in search of a brighter career within the Pakistani drama industry.
She earned her claim to fame in the 90s by playing a pivotal role in Ainak Wala Jinn. Though the character of ‘Bil Batori’ was a negative one, she soon became a household name.
After her stint in Ainak Wala Jinn, she worked in various stage plays and TV dramas but failed to garner the spotlight she initially enjoyed by essaying Bill Batori.
Despondently, since the last decade, she had been facing rough times and was residing in a shabby, rented one-bedroom home in the area of Samanabad. Due to extreme poverty and a dire dearth of resources, she was forced into beggary at the shrine of Data Ganj Baksh.
According to Nusrat, she had been begging for the last three years to make ends meet – all while facing health issues. She had shared with The Express Tribune that her circumstances had left her with no other choice.
“For the last three years, I have been completely dependent upon the shrine for food. I have done my best to fight against fate and am proud to say that I have never sought help from anyone but myself. But now, I have grown old and tired,” shared Nusrat in January of this year.
She had added, “Right now, I am not even in a position to move my body, let alone pay the Rs10,000 rent due at the end of the month. I want to die in peace and request the prime minister to appreciate my efforts and provide me with medical help at least.”
She felt it was cruel as to how the government had failed to take notice of her struggle over the last 25 years.
“Is it not cruel that after four decade of serving the Pakistani entertainment industry, I don’t have a roof over my head and the government is not even bothered about that?” she had asked earlier this year.
As a result, the Pakistan Baitul Mal (PBM) soon announced that it would provide Rs1 million for her treatment.
Barrister Abid Waheed Sheikh, the managing director of PMB had announced that a separate sum of Rs50,000 would also be given to Nusrat for her daily expenses.
Sheikh said according to his knowledge, Nusrat had a stroke and the doctors at the hospital were commencing her treatment.
A gratified Nusrat then praised the Punjab government for lending support for her ailing health, saying, “So many people are coming forward to help. The Punjab government took notice of my hardships. I’m happy about being given an opportunity to work again.”
“Artistes are national assets who ought to be accorded due respect. But, I don’t want people to pity me,” she had said.
Nusrat had also revealed that she had used the Baitul Mal funds to pay her medical bills and rent. “I am still struggling but I hope I keep getting small projects so I don’t need to beg for alms anymore,” she had confessed.
The Express Tribune reached out to her family post her demise. “My mother felt much better after receiving financial help from the government and had also started participating in showbiz activities but since the last one month, she was almost bedridden and her health kept deteriorating,” revealed her son Amir.
“This morning she seemed to be in critical condition and we rushed her to the hospital but she couldn’t make it.”
Showbiz personalities paid their tributes to the late Ainak Wala Jinn actor and demanded the government to play an active role in aiding actors and actresses who might end up sharing the same fate as Nusrat.
“Nusrat Ara was an asset to our drama industry and her play Ainak Wala Jinn was a dominating force during the peak period of PTV.
Whatever happened with her is terribly depressing but we demand that there should be some support system in place for such stars. Especially so that they don’t have to resort to beggary in search of food,” asserted actress Sheeba Butt.
Stage actor Goshi Khan also shared, “Many of our great artists such as Mastana and Babu Baral died under dingy and critical conditions and were forced to live their last days in appalling environments. It is extremely painful to witness those who gave their lives to this industry and country to be suffering in this manner.”
Bil Batori’s character really intrigued children in the past and she will undoubtedly be missed.