Film star Neelo breathes her last

By: News Desk
Published: 09:08 PM, 30 Jan, 2021
Film star Neelo breathes her last
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Famous Bollywood heroine Neelo breathed her last after a protracted illness Saturday, reported 24NewsHD TV Channel.

She was 80. Neelo was the mother of film actor Shaan Shahid and wife of late Bollywood director and writer Riaz Shahid.

Real Name Cynthia Alexander Fernandes, Neelo was Pakistan’s first oomph girl. Born 30th June 1940 in Bhera Village – Sargodha, she started her career as a child artiste in Hollywood’s Bhowani Junction (Starring – Ava Gardner, George Cukor, 1955) which was shot in and around Lahore.

Her first Pakistani film was Sabira (1956), directed by Rafi Chaudhary, which had Swaranlata and Nazir in leading roles. In the early part of her career, Neelo was mostly cast in supporting roles in films like Saath Lakh (1957), Aakhri Nishan (1958) & Zehr-e-Ishq (1958).

One of the songs from Saath Lakh picturized on her, Aaey mausam rangile suhaney captivated a great number of film-goers and made her known all over the country. In 1959, Neelo proved her acting mettle in two films starring Noor Jehan – Neend and Koel. Neend was made on the lives of coal workers by Hassan Tariq, assistant director to Jaffer Malik in Saath Lakh. It was a touching tale of a woman worker (Noor Jehan) at the coke storage in a conglomeration of small foundries in Lahore. She has a weak constitution and falls asleep at odd hours and places. Neelo played Noor Jehan’s friend in Neend. Koel, a musical about Lost and Found where the hero and heroine in their childhood lose each other and the reunion comes after a musical concert, won Neelo Best Supporting Actress award.

This was the beginning of Neelo’s long and illustrious career. Later she became the successful heroine of Pakistan after the success of film Saathi (1959) where she played the lead role. Another film Nagin released the same year made her the most successful dancer-cum-heroine of Pakistan.

During Ayub Khan’s rule, the Emperor of Iran paid an official visit to Pakistan in 1965.

For the entertainment of His Imperial Majesty, at the peak of her popularity, she was summoned by Malik Amir Mohammad Khan, then Governor of West Pakistan, to dance on stage for the Shah of Iran; but she refused to do it for her own reasons.

Harassed and threatened, Neelo faced dire consequences for refusing to obey official orders. She was allegedly gang molested and attempted suicide on the way to the Governor's house and was taken to a hospital instead, where the doctors saved her life. After this tragic incident, famous screenwriter Riaz Shahid married Neelo. She converted to Islam and was given the name Abida.

The renowned leftist poet Habib Jalib, on hearing of the incident, expressed his anguish in his poem over her attempted suicide: "Tu kay nawaqif-e-aadab-e-ghulami hae abhi." Later this poem was used in the film Zarqa (1969) with slight changes in the words and ended up becoming a super-hit film song in Pakistan.

Zarqa (1969), a film Riaz Shahid wrote, directed, and produced with the support of his actress-wife, became the most famous film of Neelo’s career. Zarqa (1969) was the story of the struggle of Palestinians for their land against Western and Zionist forces. Neelo, famous for her glamorous image, gave an authentic and sensitive performance in Zarqa (1969).

The film song became much more relevant, effective and popular because it was picturised on Neelo herself and was based on similar real life events in Neelo's life. She also won the Best Actress Nigar Award for film Zarqa (1969). It had superb music by Wajahat Attre and sung by Mehdi Hassan.

Neelo left film industry temporarily after her marriage but joined it again to support her family after the sudden death of her husband in 1972. She was also awarded Nigar Award- Special Awards, Millenium Award (1999).

Categories : Entertainment, Movies