Following her provocative dance performance in the Punjabi film Khanzada, dancer Najma, one of the new lot of dancers which have flooded the film industry recently with their inhibition-less performances has been promoted to the role of a heroine.

However, she is restricted to only those Punjabi films in which Haji Iqbal Hassan plays the male lead!  Najma attained her “overnight” popularity by performing sensuous dances in a manner which evoked protests not only from female cine-goers who in some cases left the cinema halls in protest but also from her male fans who thought that even in vulgarity and obscenity there must be some limits.

But now she says that she would no longer be playing such rose in her forthcoming 30 films which would raise eyebrows!

Her statement, it seems is self-contradictory because she could not be given the main roles in Punjabi films if she would not consent to perform dances as obscene as she did in Khanzada.

For the dance in Khanzada she is facing the case along with many others in a local court.

Najma hails from Karachi and credit for her being in the film industry should be given to Lala Sudhir who signed her first for his film.  Najma in an interview said that back in 1973 when two provinces Punjab and Sind were facing floods persons from the film industry had come to Karachi to raise funds for flood stricken people there she came across veteran Sudhir.

After this offer I shifted to Lahore from Karachi.  The much promised first film is yet to be made but my presence in the whole brought me many more contracts. you know I was keen for acting in films and now it seems I have accomplished my long-cherished wish” she said.

A number of her films have been released whose dances brought her fame and earned her notoriety due to the provocative dances. However, she also started playing characters besides doing dance numbers the stepping much ahead of other new dances.

Asked whether she was satisfied with her role in the Punjabi film Khanzada– Najma, as was expected from her because it is very difficult to say the truth after one has become such a controversial figure –  said that she never wanted to play that “dirty” role and she even did not go to the studios for 3 days but “then I was bound by the contract and I had to do it.”

In reply to another question she said she was doing bad character roles in her forthcoming films!  But those who have seen her in the Do Dost, Nawabzada and Hadhkadi can hardly take words seriously.

Though She detested her role in Khanzada yet she describes it is an experience which would be of great help to the and indeed it is so

Najma is sore about the presentation of Punjabi culture in our films.

She says “Most of our Punjabi films depict something unnatural and culture is reflected in such a distorted and debased manner that one is shocked to see such films.”

She says only a director who lacked intelligence would exploit vulgarity and obscenity otherwise there are films like (director Masood Parvez’s) Heer Ranjha in which due attention is paid to the correct projection of the Punjabi culture.

Najma is of the opinion that there is obscenity and nudity too in the Indian films but it is mostly justified by the plot and run of the story where is in our films it is there without any rhyme and reason.

She says most of our films which are neat and clean can easily be compared with Indian films and thinks “we can compete with India in this field by producing good intelligent directors and original writers.”

Apparently, she looks just a dancer but she also thinks and pleads for a film academy so that educated people could be attracted to this industry.

She repented lack of films for children and said or produces are going crazy for money and as such they were not interested in such projects in the meantime it is for the Government sponsored bodies like National Film Development Corporation to develop in this neglected field.

Najma could well be a doctor or just a housewife if she had not become first two dancer and then the heroine in the films.

Whenever she gets time she has a taste for reading poetry: Faiz Ahmed Faiz, novels by Razia butt and actress turned writer Deeba Khanum.

Najma has a long way to go and she should start concentrating on acting rather than dancing.  It is time she should go for serious roles.  In fact, she is keen to play challenging characters like a deaf or blind girl or some more complex psychological characters.

It is for the producers to exploit her talents and not to restrict her merely to sexy dances.


From the Archives.  The Morning News, Karachi 1976.