‘Life is a movie and you are the star. Give it a happy ending’.
Presumably, the first time Pakistanis came across Barbara was in the early 1970s. She made her presence felt in a ‘Jet’ washing powder commercial and came to be known as ‘Jet’ powder girl. Fair-haired, attractive and intelligent, Barbara soon became a house- hold word.
Her appearance in the ‘Lux’ advertisement with the message, ‘Aakhir loag hamara chehra he to deiktay hain’, took her fame to the top. After a while, she appeared in Mohsin Shirazi’s television play, which was telecast from Karachi television station. Barbara was smartly dubbed as Nadia in Anwar Maqsood’s Pakistan television comedy play, ‘Nadaan Nadia’. Cast, Talat Husain, Qurban Jilani, Latif Kapadia, Durdana Butt.
Born to a middle class family in 1954, Barbara took considerable interest in show business as she grew up. Confident of her acting potential, Shamim Ara signed her for the film ‘Bhool’ in 1974. ‘Bhool’ was scheduled to be directed by S.Sulaiman. Prior to ‘Bhool’, S.Sulaiman had already signed Barbara for his film ‘Intezaar’. Incidentally, ‘Intizaar’ was released before ‘Bhool’. Hence, Barbara debuted in the film ‘Intezaar’ as supporting actress in 1974. To set the record straight, both ‘Intezaar’ and ‘Bhool’ were released in 1974.
Barbara’s innocent face distinguished her from other actresses of her time. Despite her hard work in the above two films, Barbara had to look for more opportunities in movies, which did not came immediately. In 1975, she appeared as supporting actress, in director Masood Pervez’s film ‘Mera naa patay khan’. Neelo and Shahid played the lead roles.
Her efforts took on a new intensity and she proved her worth in the Pakistani cinema. She worked in director Iqbal Kashmiri’s film ‘Shareef Budmaash.’ In director Ali Sufyan Aafaqi’s film ‘Ajnabi’. In director Nazar Shabab’s film ‘Naukar’.
An undeterred Barbara, dressed to perform, played the lead role opposite Ghulam Mohyedin, in director Wazeer Ali’s film ‘Masoom’. In her movies, even ordinary things capture tranquility. Her most memorable role came in the super hit film ‘Mera naam hai mohabbat’, directed by Shabab Kiranvi. Barbara and Ghulam Mohyedin played the lead roles. Her fame sky- rocketed soon after the theatrical release of ‘Mera naam hai mohabbat’.
In reality, Barbara became the most sought after actress from 1976 onwards. Moreover, the year 1976 was most definitely the best year for her films as well. In 1976, she worked in director Pervez Malik’s film ‘Talaash’. In director Shabab Kiranvi’s film ‘Dewar’. In director Ali Sufyan Aafaqi’s film ‘Aag aur Aansoo’. Foremost was her sweeping 1976 movie, ‘Shabana’, directed by Zafar Shabab. The film successfully completed golden jubilee, by winning performances turned in by Barbara, Waheed Murad and Shahid.
In her twenty- three- year film career, 1974-1997, Barbara worked in more or less one hundred fifty films. Her auspicious performance in ‘Shabana’, led to more successful movies. Below are six such films: ‘Pyar ka wada’, ‘Manzil’, ‘Teray bina kya jeena’, ‘Daman’, ‘La jawab’, ‘Ye zamana aur hai’.
At the pinnacle of her movie career, Barbara married actor Shahid. Unfortunately, the marriage did not last long. It resulted in their separation. The success of the above films-bolstered by later movies like ‘Sungdil’, ‘Wafa’ and ‘Ka’ainaat’, made Barbara a very busy actress. After more than two decades of acting, her name was greater than ever. Below are six instances of her highly dramatic caliber: The films ‘Aik din bahu ka’, ‘Maazi haal mustaqbil’, ‘Kis naam say pukaroon’, ‘Shehzada’, ‘Aj dee taza khabar’ ‘Haq mehar’.
Admirers had much more faith in her artistic talents than they had in her earlier movies. We have plenty of films to back that up. Below are three such movies:
Over the years, she worked her magic throughout Pakistan. Her past accomplishments conveys the tremendous talents of this woman. Her fame was greater than ever with the release of the six movies below:
As the years passed, she kept working in movies. The 1974 golden jubilee film ‘Shama’ was, indeed, her big strike. Directed by Nazar Shabab. Starring, Barbara, Waheed Murad- Deeba- Mohammad Ali- Nadeem. The 1974 silver jubilee film ‘Haqeeqat’, exemplifies her absolute dedication to her role. Director, Nazar-ul-Islam Dada. Cast, Barbara- Waheed Murad- Mohammad Ali. Barbara’s confidence and exuberance are all the more evident in the 1976 silver jubilee film ‘Zubeida’, director, Aslam Daar. Starring, Barbara- Waheed Murad- Nisho- Rangeela.
All her fans that I have come across so far echoed Barbara’s sentiments. During her association with show business, she was considered the life of the parties. Director Zafar Shabab cast her in the 1976 silver jubilee film, ‘Waqt’. Cast, Barbara- Waheed Murad- Kavita- Shamim Ara. Barbara teamed up with Shahid and Waheed Murad in the 1981 silver jubilee film ‘Dil nay phir yaad kya’, directed by Iqbal Akhtar.
Likewise, she joined hands with director Iqbal Akhtar in the 1980 film ‘Chotay Nawab’. Stars, Barbara Waheed Murad- Shahid- Neelo. Barbara appropriately captured the transporting power of love and gentility in her movies. The heart-felt lyricism also played a decisive role in her following six movies: ‘Deewanay Do’, ‘Chakkar’, ‘Khahish’, ‘Deikha jaaye ga’, ‘Jawani Deewani’, ‘Mausum hai Aashiqana’.
She worked with the movie crew as conceptual artists in all of her films. Quite a few of Barbara’s movies are shrouded in a melancholy tone that suffuses the whole performance. Audiences applauded her effort in the six movies below: ‘Aladin’, ‘Maa bani dulhan’, ‘Kaali’, ‘Insaan’, ‘Do Dil’, ‘Qudrat da intiqaam’.
Barbara’s sister, Fakhira, also associated herself in show business. However, she could not click. As for Barbara, she took more challenging roles in her later movies and captured the spotlight with her roles in the seven movies below: ‘Aik chehra do roop’, Mehak’, ‘Saathi’, ‘Baaghi haseena’, ‘Ishq da roag’, ‘Baarish’, ‘Duniya.’
Barbara’s movies also dealt with individual sensibilities. People of uncommon craft directed such films.
Her popularity soared even higher with the release of the four movies below:
‘Aasmaan’, ‘Aik he raasta’, ‘Jaan-e-mun’, ‘Garebaan.’
After a lapse in her career, Barbara re-appeared for the location shooting of director Sangeeta’s film ‘Samaaj’. However, due to unavoidable reasons, she had to give up her character in ‘Samaaj’. Barbara’s last film was ‘Ghayal’, in which she worked opposite Izhar Qazi. Directed by Hasnain and released in 1997.She received the Nigar Award eight times in her movie career. Below are the details:
She not only saw and felt the difference her personality made in others lives, she is still living out that difference after her retirement from the entertainment industry. Barbara is not in the public eye any longer. Nevertheless, her influence will not likely abate in the coming years.