LAHORE: Iconic actor Firdous, most popularly known for her portrayal of ‘Heer’ on the silver screen, died at the age of 73 here on Wednesday.

Firdous won millions of hearts through her remarkable performances in around 160 Punjabi, Urdu and Pashto films over four decades. She was admitted to a local hospital three days ago after suffering a brain haemorrhage. She is survived by two sons and a daughter.

Her funeral prayers held near her Firdous Market residence did not see a notable turnout from the film industry. However, those who did attend included Sheeba Butt, Durdana Rehman, Achi Khan, Gori, Andleeb and Nisho – who also happens to be a relative of Firdous. She was laid to rest at Miani Sahib graveyard. Her qul will be held at 2pm at her residence on Thursday (today).

Born as Parveen on Aug 4, 1947, in Lahore, Firdous started her film career with Nakhshab Chaudhry’s Fanoos on June 23, 1963, in a supporting role, while the main leads were Komal and Salman Peerzada. Some of her earliest films were Khandaan, Lai Laag and Aurat.

Considered one of the most sought-after film actors of the ‘70s, Firdous’s career had a rocky start with all of her early films bombing at the box office though her beauty, strong personality and a ‘Punjabi jatti’ attitude did get her noticed. She also faced cutthroat competition in the Punjabi cinema in her initial years from her contemporaries Naghma and Sheerin.

Firdous was also known to be a talented dancer. Her unsuccessful debut Fanoos was followed by more failures, Malang, Ghaddar -- directed by Fayaaz Ahmed, and Jhanjhar alongside film star Habib. However, Mann Mauji directed by M.J. Rana did relatively good business at the box office.

Her 1965 film Malangi opposite Yousaf Khan was a roaring success. One of its songs, ‘Mahi ve saanu pul na jaavin’, sung by Melody Queen Noor Jehan is still very popular. This film established Firdous as a mainstream heroine.

But what made her a household name was the 1970 film Heer Ranjha in which she played the titular role of ‘Heer’ opposite Ejaz Durrani. Directed by Pervaiz Masood, the film was a blockbuster and Firdous’s brilliant performance was lauded by all and sundry. The film’s evergreen music is still in vogue.

At the peak of her career, Firdous chose to marry Punjabi superstar Akmal. However, just a few years later, he died after which Firdous got married to film producer Sheikh Nazir Hussain. She also owned Lahore’s Firdous Market, but later sold it out. But the market is still named after her.

Firdous won three Nigar Awards for her films Aansoo, Heer Ranjha and Ziddi. Her other popular films included Ishq Na Puchhay Zaat, Mirza Jutt, Qaul-o-Qarar, Maan Puttar, Lahoo Pukaray Ga, Jawani Mastani, Jaag Utha Insaan, Yaraan Naal Baharan, Banarsi Thag, Azra, and Gul Bakaoli. Her last film, Ghayal, was released in 1997. She also acted in three Pashto films.

Chief Minister Usman Buzdar expressed grief over the demise of the veteran actor. In a message, he expressed condolences with the actor’s family and said that Heer Ranjha was still fresh in the memories of filmgoers. With her death, the film industry had lost a great actress, he concluded.

The Lahore Arts Council also said that Firdous was a great actress with whose death a golden chapter of the industry had come to an end.

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2020

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