Shamim Ara

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Pakistani cinema 

Shamim Ara

Shamim Ara: Golden grip of success

By Anis  Shakur

A decade before partition, a popular dancer in Aligarh, Uttar Pardesh, India, gave birth to a girl and named her Putli.

At a very tender age, the daughter started receiving dancing lessons from her talented mother and subsequently became a skillful dancer herself.

The mother aspired to be an actress. However, her hopes could not be materialized. Presumably that inspired cute little Putli, in her later life, to fulfill her mother's unrealized dreams.

In 1956 putli alongwith her family came to Karachi to visit her relatives. Around that time, a reputed film director, Najam Naqui, who had migrated to Pakistan from India, happened to be in Karachi, as well.

He was in search of a young actress for his next movie.

By chance, Najam met this girl and he was stunned by her sheer beauty, facial expression and sweet smile smeared all over her innocent face.

To cut this long story short, Najam eventually found the ideal face which was perfect for his upcoming movie Additionally, he had a strong hunch that she was eminently suited for the role.

Thus Putli changed her name to Shamim Ara and became the lead actress of the film 'Kunwari Baywa' (1956, director: Najam Naqui, starring: Shamim Ara, Ayaz senior, Babbu Begum, Ishrat Sultana)

Bad luck, 'Kunwari Baywa' could not succeed at the box office. Still Shamim Ara became the heartthrob of innumerable moviegoers due to her electrifying performance in her debut film.

In the same year, director Roop k. Shori, who was also an immigrant from India, worked along with filmmaker J.C. Anand.

Both of them signed in Shamim Ara as a side heroine opposite Aslam Pervez, for the film 'Miss '56'

Shamim Ara who was in her twenties then, was on her way to fame. Moreover, on Elias Rashdi's advice she left Karachi and settled in Lahore.

Further, Rashdi also urged his colleagues to cooperate with Shamim Ara in her movie career.

Director Anwar Kamal Pasha, convinced of Shamim Ara's dedication, offered her a role in his historical movie, 'Anarkali.'

Shamim Ara smartly dubbed as 'Anarkali's youner sister, did full justice to her role. Her initial success, bolstered by later movies like 'Aalam Ara', 'Roop mati', 'Baaz Bahadur' and 'Raaz' gave her a boost.

Soon thereafter her identity began to emerge. Side by side, she continued to appear in the films which were produced in Karachi.

By the early 1960s, she had established herself as the foremost actress of the Pakistani cinema.

In Karachi she worked in director Jafar Bukhari's film 'Faisala', director Rafiq Rizvi's film 'Apna paraya', director Munawwar Rasheed's film 'Insaan badalta hai,' to name a few.

Shamim Ara, the great communicator, is an unobtrusively brilliant lady.

Speaking of acting, her performance kept getting better. She gained renown as the lead lady in numerous movies. As an actress, she worked altogether in ninety films.

Some of her films are mentioned here below:

'Wah ray zamanay', 'Do ustaad', 'Jaa'edad', (Shamim Ara's first Punjabi film), 'Bhabi', 'Izzat', 'Zameen ka chand', 'Qaidi', 'Zamana kya kahay ga', 'Mehboob', 'Inqilaab', 'Mera Qusoor kya', 'Shikari', 'Seema', 'Dulhan', 'Taangey wala', 'Baap ka baap', 'Tanha', 'Shabab', 'Maikhana', 'Pyar ki saza', 'Chingari', 'Haveli', 'Faishan', 'Dil kay tukray' 'Hamraz', 'Khilona', 'Aaliya', 'Paraye Aag', 'Wehshi' 'Ungaray', 'Suhaag' and 'Night club'.

Her quiet yet perfectly distinct voice is a tape recorder's dream. Her movies followed one another like so many withered leaves blown across the small lawn of time.

Pondering over her movie career as an actress, she characteristically emphasized, how much of a learning experience it was.

Shamim Ara is a diligent artist and has assiduously  been honing her craft over the decades.

Further, Shamim Ara owes her rocket-like rise in the films to the highly competent film crew of the 1950s and '60s.

Furthermore, Shamim Ara's unforgettable role in the films 'Doraha', 'Saheli', 'Dil mera dharkan teri, 'Aanchal', 'Ik tera sahara', 'Meray mehboob', 'Jaan-e-Aarzoo', 'Parda', 'Majboor', 'Zaib-un-nisa' and 'Khawab aur zindigi', were positive, uplifting and truthful, when Pakistani cinema was at the height of its splendor.

Movies like 'Saiqa', 'Hill station', 'Zindigi aik safar hai', 'Waqt', 'Dil-e-bay taab', 'Aansoo bun gaye moti' and 'Khaak aur khoon' were not only monumental dramatic landmarks, but they were brought to life by an award-winning cast, as well.

Shamim Ara's commitment  in the films like 'Naila', 'Aag ka darya', 'Saalgira' and 'Lakhoan mein aik' found their way to our brains by way of our hearts.

'Parooti' or 'Paaro', played by Shamim Ara in the film 'Deodas' was, indeed, the height of her caliber.

Over and above, Shamim Ara's distinction hinges on her being the first woman director of the Pakistan film industry.

However, her contributions extend beyond the direction.

Besides, her mastery of the brilliant direction always brightens the film and carries the day.

Hence there is no question about her understanding of the possibilities of the film direction.

Her first film as director was 'Jeeyo aur jeenay do', which was followed by high quality movies like 'Playboy', 'Meray apnay', 'Miss Hong Kong ', Miss Singapore', 'Miss Colombo', 'Lady smuggler' and 'Lady commando'.

Majority of the above-mentioned films were a success partly due to her exemplary direction, personal observation and prolong experience as an actress.

Also, luck has been on her side most of the time.

Years ago, news had been circulating about her chances of getting married to actor Mohammad Ali. But that did not workout for both of them.

Shamim Ara's first husband, Sardar Rind, died in a traffic accident. Later, she got married to Majeed Karim (Shamim Ara's second husband) which ended up in a separation.

After a while, she wedded film director Fareed Ahmed (Shamim Ara's third husband) which, too, ended in a divorce.

She married for the fourth time to filmmaker-writer, Dabeer-ul-Hasan. The screenplay of most of the films directed by Shamim Ara were written by Dabeer-ul-Hasan.

Let us look at her Nigar awards:

In 1960 Shamim Ara won the Nigar award for best actress in the film 'Saheli'.
In 1964 Shamim Ara won the Nigar award for best actress in the film 'Farangi'.
In 1965 Shamim Ara won the Nigar award for best actress in the film 'Naila'.
In 1967 Shamim Ara won the Nigar award for best actress in the film 'Lakhoan mein aik'
In 1968 Shamim Ara won the Nigar award for best actress in the film 'Saiqa'.
In 1968 Shamim Ara won the Nigar award for best producer in the film 'Saiqa'.
In 1989 Shamim Ara won the Nigar award for best actress for the film 'Tees mar khan'.(Besides being the  second and last Punjabi film of Shamim Ara, 'Tees mar khan' also happened to be her last film as an actress).
1n 1993 Shamim Ara won the special award for best director in the film 'Haati meray saathi'.
In 1994 Shamim Ara won the Nigar award for best director in the film 'Aakhri mujra'
In 1995 Shamim Ara won the Nigar award for best director in the film 'Munda bigra jaey'.

Shamim Ara successfully dramatized socially impactful stories-and in the process she changed lives.

Never before in the Pakistani culture had one woman as an actress and then as director risen so high so fast.

She is well-known for her unrelenting discipline - conformity is the rule, hard work the currency.

The likes of Shamim Ara are an extremely rare commodity. She is one of the few highly trusted artist with the guts to lead the way.

Honoring such grace in the past, we ready ourselves to receive its like again.

Our beloved Pakistan