Monday 3 March 2014

Lollywood’s loving maa

11:25 By Lollywood Online No comments

From being a leading lady in the industry for ten years to a loving ‘maa’ (mother) on the reel, Begum has 35 glorious years in acting to her credit. PHOTOS: ASHRAF MEMON/EXPRESS
“Do I still need an introduction?” quips Bahar Begum at a meet with the media on Sunday at the Karachi Press Club. And she rightly questions so. If you are familiar with Lollywood when it was in its heyday, Bahar Begum is a name that will certainly need no introduction.
From maintaining a potent presence as a leading lady in the industry for ten years to transforming into the role of a loving ‘maa’ (mother) on the reel, Begum has 35 glorious years in acting to her credit.
“You all have truly honoured me today by hosting a reception for me,” says the humble Begum to the media community. “My comments will not be political. They will only highlight the sheer regard I have for the Pakistani film industry after [a long association with it].”
Many artistes in the older age bracket are assumed to have retired or expected to retire soon. “Artistes don’t retire,” says Begum. “I have worked here for so long, yet people question an artiste like me if I have retired or have plans to retire.”
The veteran actor, who rarely graces the film screen now, states, “I have stopped working because I feel that good work isn’t being produced. I don’t feel like working anymore.”
Reminiscing about the days when she was active in the film industry, Begum shares that her memories of  lollywood are still vivid and unforgettable. “Lollywood was a place where work mattered and one never felt the need to go home,” she says.
She laments over the inclination towards material gains that have become central in Lollywood. “Money was not everything earlier; it was a secondary concern. People wanted work and lots of work. Things have become more commercial now,” she says.
Begum admits that “ups and down are part of every industry and so is the case in Lollywood. But what aggravated the situation in Lollywood was that from 1975 onwards, only action films got produced.”
“They were being made in Hollywood and Bollywood also, but we got stuck in the gandasa(poleaxe) culture. So much so that it affected our performances and other genres were ignored altogether,” she says.
Commenting on present-day entertainment industry glitches, she says, “Nowadays, many girls performing in television plays only say to their directors, ‘Take karain jee’ (let’s film the scene) without even knowing their dialogues. They don’t know the trick of the trade, the essence of rehearsals.”
On obscenity and lewd behaviour in many films today, Begum feels, “In our time, there used to songs and dance in films like there are today, but no nude scenes as nudity wasn’t accepted.”
She states that during her time in film, “directors and producers were educated. Today, what we have are pure financiers, who make someone write a script and someone else direct it.”
Admitting that she isn’t much of a reader, she says that she is unaware of the talked-about resurrection of cinema in Karachi. “I don’t see the revival of industry taking place anytime soon,” she affirms.
Recalling the good times, she spent with fellow acting veteran Sultan Rahi on the silver screen, she says that he “was a man who was too loyal to his work.”
She also shares what she thinks about some of the leading actors of today. She honestly proclaims about Shaan, “He has a major attitude problem. He needs to show respect to me as he shows it to his mother.”
About Meera, Veena Malik and Humaima Malik performing in India, she says, “They have contacts with the likes of film-maker Mahesh Bhatt. That’s why they are getting to perform there. But don’t forget they were first recognised here, in Pakistan.”
She comments on her deep friendship based on mutual love and respect with actors Nayyar Sultana and Shamim Ara. “We never had rivalry amongst us. We never felt we had to be a part of the rat race. However, each one of us made sure that people love our performances.”
Their association started with the film Saheli and continued to bloom till Sultana died in 1992 and Shamim Ara slipped into a state of comatose four years ago.


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