KARACHI: Not acting in movies anymore may have put years on her, but film star Shabnam sounds just as sprightly and full of life as when she was the heartthrob of millions of filmgoers in the subcontinent.
The famous actress now lives in Bangladesh. She is these days visiting Pakistan with her husband, music composer Robin Ghosh.
Talking to Dawn on Tuesday, Shabnam sounded pleasantly surprised being in Karachi.
“I feel great in Karachi. It has completely changed. It has become more beautiful (khoobsurat). When I landed here on Monday, it felt as if I was somewhere abroad (kisi bahar ke mulk mein hoon).” By abroad she obviously meant western countries.
It was more than a decade back that the actress last visited Pakistan. A lot has changed ever since. Pakistan has been fighting a war against terror.
Shabnam spent a major part of her life in West Pakistan. On the question of Pakistan’s sociopolitical turmoil her response was: “It feels bad when we hear sad news coming out of Pakistan. As human beings it pains us, saddens us.”
Being an actress, top-notch at that, Shabnam expressed concern about the present state of the Pakistan film industry.
Shabnam said, “its standard has gone down gradually. It has not happened overnight. I think the government should support the film industry."
"It should give loans to producers. We have done that in Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi government provides producers with finances through a proper system and it has worked well for its film fraternity. It helps and encourages producers and filmmakers,” she added.
Shabnam no longer works in films. But as they say, once an actor, always an actor. She commented: “The last film that I did was I think 12 years ago. It was made in Bangladesh and its title was Amma Jaan. I was the central character in the movie. It was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful film. With regard to your query why don’t I work now, the answer is God has blessed me a lot. I’m enjoying my life.”
Replying to the question as to what were her cherished memories when she worked in Pakistani films, Shabnam remarked: “There are so many of them. I can’t tell you in one single chitchat session. Some of the people I worked with have passed away. I admire a lot of them. A few names that come to my mind are Pervaiz Malik, Nazarul Islam, S Suleiman and Javed Fazil. All are/were very good.”
In recent times, Bollywood has taken the subcontinent’s cinema lovers by storm. Bollywod films are watched in Bangladesh too.
On the issue of the Indian film industry’s comparison with Pakistan and Bangladeshi industries, Shabnam opined: “They spend humungous amounts of money on their films. We can’t invest that kind of money in our movies. Besides, our market is much smaller than theirs.”
Couldn’t Bangladesh and Pakistan have a joint film venture? “Why not? I think such an initiative was taken in the past, but for some reason it could not materialise.”
Earlier in the day, Shabnam along with Robin Ghosh went to PTV Karachi office and took part in a live morning show. Later on she visited the Governor’s House and met the governor of Sindh where they discussed steps that the government had taken to support singer Mehdi Hasan and actor Lehri. Shabnam also paid a visit to Lehri sahib and inquired after his health.