Shamim Ara defined the romantic era of Pakistani cinema. No one could sit with more grace at a piano, hair perfectly coiffed and saree pallu elegantly draped, and lip-synch with such charm to a haunting, sentimental melody sung by that other great, Madam Noor Jahan. With Shamim’s passing, that enchanted chapter has closed forever.
As much as her performances, fans will remember the songs they saw the beautiful Shamim Ara singing on screen for unforgettable films like ‘Lakhon Mein Aik’, ‘Naila’, ‘Salgirah’ and ‘Doraha’, to name a few. Her presence was such that the heroes she starred with, be it Mohammad Ali, Nadeem or Waheed Murad, all became second leads as long as she was in a scene – and that too at a time when the film industry was totally male-dominated.
Though she played the demure damsel on screen, Shamim Ara was no shrinking violet. She proved herself a woman of substance by rising from being a starlet to the most successful heroine, and foremost film producer and director of her times. When she held the reins the films became more woman-oriented, the heroines showing pluck and strength of character that was a reflection of the lady calling the shots.
On screen, Shamim Ara romanced all the leading heartthrobs of the time, but remained unlucky in love in real life, and that perhaps adds pathos to the nostalgic image of her we’ll always carry in our hearts where she will stay alive like the song ‘Meri zindagi hai naghma, meri zindagi taraana…’