Article Hindi

7 things you didn't know about Naseem Banu

For her 15th death anniversary today (18 June), here are seven interesting facts about the alluring actress, once known as ‘pari chehra’ (angel face).

Sonal Pandya

Making her debut in an Indian adaptation of Hamlet, helmed by Sohrab Modi, the pretty young actress Naseem Banu quickly became a star with roles in Khan Bahadur (1937) and Vasanti (1938). She broke ties with the studio that launched her and went on to set up her own production companies, with herself in the lead. Naseem acted with younger heroes Shyam, Rehman and Southern actor Ranjan in leading roles and later guided her own daughter, Saira Banu, when she joined the Hindi film industry as a teenager.

1. Naseem Banu (real name Roshanara Begum) was only a schoolgirl when when she was offered the role of Ophelia in Sohrab Modi's Hamlet (1935). The headmistress of her school did not approve of one of her schoolgirls appearing in a film and she was let go from the school.

2. The young star had competition from her own mother, Shamshad Begum (also known as Chhamian Bai), who was a classical singer and a star in her own right. She earned more than her actress daughter who was under contract with Sohrab Modi's Minerva Movietone for Rs3500 a month.

3. Pukar (1939), in which Naseem Banu played the role of Noor Jahan, took over a year to film. She took singing classes and went riding every day to keep in shape as preparation for the film. She sang the song 'Zindgi Ka Saaz Bhi Kya Saaz Hai' in the film.

4. In 1942, she formed Taj Mahal Films with her husband, Mohammed Ehsan (her childhood friend), and produced films like Ujala (1942), Begum (1944), Mulaqat (1947) and Ajeeb Ladki (1952). Later, he migrated to Pakistan and took the negatives of the films made under the banner. Naseem Banu inadvertently became a big star in Pakistan.

5. She moved to England after her separation from her husband with her two young children, Sultan Ahmed and Saira Banu. They did their schooling for a couple of years before moving back to India.

6. History repeated itself when her daughter Saira joined films with Junglee (1961) as a teenager. Naseem Banu became her costume designer on certain films, making sure that Saira Banu was stylishly dressed with intricate handiwork on her saris.

7. Naseem Banu retired in the 1960s while she was still young and was offered a role opposite Dilip Kumar, who would become her son-in-law when he married her daughter Saira Banu. Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu have a 22-year difference between them.