With her heartfelt performances in TV dramas Darwaza, Kiran Kahani and Zard Gulab alongside numerous others, TV actor Roohi Bano won our hearts.
She is an artiste who witnessed the birth of the television industry in Pakistan, become an integral part of it and has worked with some of the country’s leading actors, including Talat Hussain and Rahat Kazmi. However, it’s unfortunate that the woman who once ruled the screens is now a hermit living in solitude in her derelict Lahore home. She is possibly senile and the world largely unsympathetic.
“I know that many [TV] shows have taken advantage of her condition in the past,” says screenwriter Suraj Baba, referring to TV show producers who would invite her to their shows for ratings or feel-good tributes. “But when I saw a recent tribute to her, I thought I would visit her since I hadn’t seen her in three years.” He says he felt distressed after seeing her. “I am appealing that someone [needs to] provide her with basic help such as security or a person who can take care of her.”
Daughter of Indian tabla maestro Allah Rakha, Bano has won many awards including the Pride of Performance. But today she lives alone on Kasuri Road, in a house that is so broken down it gives one the impression that it is haunted. It lacks basic amenities such as gas and power, the furniture is broken, trash fills the driveway and a stench surrounds the place. The only working appliance Bano owns is her television.
Following his visit a couple of days ago, Baba reached out to his contacts in the television fraternity with the hope of raising money for her. As a result, actor Shamoon Abbasi showed his support via Facebook and Twitter in order to start a fund. Unable to find any relatives or family — her only son was shot dead in 2005 — who could take care of her, Baba has decided to start a campaign to draw in the government’s attention. He hopes that basic care — a maid or security guard — will be provided.
Bano’s financial condition, however, is the least of her worries. It is clear that her mental state has deteriorated as she was unable to speak clearly or coherently. “I just sit all day and watch television. I may clean up the house one day,” a disheveled Bano told The Express Tribune, seeming rather lost. She reveals that she was unaware that media was taking an interest in her life but does remember that she appeared on a TV show recently and that the channel never ended up paying her.
When asked how she feels about people raising funds in her name, she is bitter and angry. “No one has spoken to me about making a trust or an account [to raise funds for me],” she snapped, completely oblivious to the notion. “Whoever said that, I will ask them what they want from me.” She admits that her car had also been stolen about three years ago.
General speculation by people in the television industry is that those close to her may have ulterior motives such as obtaining her wealth. She discloses that she has some land in Punjab and a plot in Karachi. The house she currently resides in is worth a lot despite its deplorable state.
Baba’s voice has been heard as Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz MPA and former actor Kanwal recently paid Bano a visit. She feels that money is not the solution right now as Bano is going through an extreme bout of depression. “People can do whatever they want but my main interest is to make sure that she is provided a better environment so that she can overcome her depression,” says Kanwal. “Being a woman as well as a former artist, I feel it’s important that we support her. I don’t think throwing money is the solution. We want to help her, so she can overcome this.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2013.
Like Life & Style on Facebook, follow @ETLifeandStyle on Twitter for the latest in fashion, gossip and entertainment.