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Husna: Down the memory lane - E.1

By Anis Shakur

Monday - February 27, 2017

“No person who is enthusiastic about his work has anything to fear from life. All the opportunities in the world are waiting to be grasped by people who are in love with what they are doing,” is a statement by Samuel Goldwyn and it applies to Husna as well.

     In the year 1957, a very decent lady, Surraiya, her twelve-year-old very pretty daughter and actress Babbu Begum met with filmmaker, Syed Shaukat Husain Rizvi, at a tea break in the guest room of Shah Noor studios, Lahore.

     Surraiya’s outstanding demeanor and her Lucknow-style accent meant that she hailed from a Nawab family of pre-partition days.

     Long story short, Surraiya explained Rizvi, nicknamed Mian jee, that her daughter, who was then in her early teens, was fervently desirous to work in the films.

     Mian jee interviewed the teenager, who was well versed in Urdu and English.

     Mian jee had seen a sparkle in her eyes. There was evidently something in her face that transcends the ordinary.

     Mian jee momentarily informed Surraiya that he had decided to cast the gorgeous girl in his film 'Jaan-e-Bahar.' The little girl did not find appropriate words to thank the filmmaker. After all, no one ever mistakes the message of a grateful heart.

     Thus, the exceptionally gorgeous girl, who looked more like a fairy, and whom the Pakistani movie goers round the globe recognise as Husna, debuted in the film 'Jaan-e-Bahar' in 1958. Additionally, Noor Jehan also endorsed Husna to the films.

     Husna was dubbed as the daughter of Musarrat Nazeer and Lala Sudhir in 'Jaan-e-Bahar'. Her life is a glorious tale of warmth and gratitude. Cine-goers and critics alike agree that Husna resembles in the Indian actress Nimmi.

     Truth is told, none other actress of her time came even close to Husna's beauty, much less beating it. To this day, Husna is Husna. She has no parallel in beauty.

     Surraiya and her husband, who was a high ranking official at Radio Pakistan at the time, wanted Husna to complete her education and then continue her journey to the movies. However, Husna decided to forsake education for the acting that was her lifelong love.

     As the saying goes ‘We are the architects of our own fortunes and that our happiness depends, in the end, on ourselves.’ Moreover, glamour was in Husna's blood. She had a flair for parties, picnics and outings, as well

     Her immense appeal and her absolute belief to move on took her to the forefront of the rising Pakistani cinema in the 1960s. She associated herself to films for more than two decades. During that time, she worked in sixty- three movies. She appeared in the films as supporting actress, lead actress and even as vamp.

     Behind the gaze that had put a generation of young males under her spell, was an ultra-sensitive woman whose presence always heightened the sweetness of living. She made her mark with her next movie, 'Ajab Khan', which proved to be a mega hit. It launched her into the cinema. She played the lead actress, dubbed as 'Noor', opposite Sudhir, who played the title role, 'Ajab Khan'.

     The real Husna and the reel Husna were very much alike: Vivid, vivacious and friend of friends. Sixty years down the line, her well-wishers could not get her off their minds.

     Her dressing expressed her aspirations toward taste and sophistication. Husna is arguably the best-dressed actress in the annals of the Pakistani cinema. Her memory had been, is, and hopefully will be so sharp that she remembers precisely the location of every single dress in her wardrobe.

     Movies like 'Society', 'Sathi' and 'Nagan', in which she appeared in romantic roles, added to her popularity and bought her instant fame. Husna, by far, is one of the most romantic heroine Pakistanis have ever seen. She lives like her best memories have not happened yet.

     She graced the Pakistani silver screen with her wistful appearance and to this day, the movie buffs remember her as an icon of beauty and glamour. The enormously talented Husna received more opportunities to evince her acting. Here are three examples: The films 'Saltanat' (Husna was the supporting actress), the film 'Lagan', starring, Husna- Aslam-Yusuf, the film 'Son of Ali Baba'.

     The following three films show what a well-balanced and modulated performance she could render if given the right opportunity: The films 'Ghazi Bin Abbas', 'Teen Phool' and 'Farishta' (Husna worked opposite Afzal Nazeer in 'Farishta')

     Who else could have combined her beauty and her tragedy with such finesse and dignity? An actress of many projects, Husna was also behind such movies:

     'Habu', 'Rani Khan.' 'Rani Khan' was released on November 4, 1960, starring, Husna- Akmal- Laila –Zarif and the film 'Bhai chara’. (To be continued…)




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