Box Office and Juicy Gossip from the Tabloids, July 2000.

Disclaimer: The following account has been culled from the Urdu Filmi Press including Shama, and Big Boss magazine and has nothing to do with any opinions of our own.

A round up of what the tabloids and the trade papers are buzzing about:

Big Boss magazine of Lahore reports that Resham’s stock isn’t on the rise despite a juicy role in Madame Sangeeta’s Reshman which managed only average business in the early part of summer 2000.

The rag also reports how actress cum stage show artiste performed a stunning Mujra lately in the city that had a certain car dealer drooling all over himself in infatuation. He later presented Chandni, the object of his affection, with a red coloured Toyota!

The magazine also claims that Anjuman has been “clean bowled in the last innings of her career” and goes on to mention that Jatti da Veer hasn’t been appreciated by the masses despite running a creditable five weeks in Rawalpindi. The mag accused Anjuman of blatantly aping the great Sultan Rahi and doing a pretty rotten job of it.

Shama Magazine, Lahore

The mag says that at one stage after her comeback Anjuman had 12 movies signed up and ready to shoot, but only the first of the comeback features Chaudrani proved successful and all the subsequent releases have flopped badly. After Ek Dhee Punjab di is released there will be no more releases left for the once invincible Anjuman. She has already planned to quit films altogether as well as shift from Pakistan to either England or The United States. Anjuman didn’t spare Saima one or two searing snipes when she announced that either he (Syed Noor) call Saima his sister or else she shall continue to refer to her as “Bhaabi”. Ouch!

The gossipy mag also exposes Meera as being a divorcee mother of two children rather than the lusting nymph she portrays on screen. She was apparently married to some fellow called Tahir from Karachi at the age of 22 and soon the couple developed major differences. Meera got a divorce and Tahir gave her possession of the kids but according to the magazine, Meera felt they would hinder her career chart and so deposited the kids with her aunt who is still doing the job of bringing up the bachchaa’s while Mother earns the bread playing on screen siren. Then finally Big Boss reveals that a “reliable” source has informed them that Meera was divorced by her husband because of her errant ways!

There was an extraordinary scene at Evernew studios at the shooting of Iqbal Kashmiri’s Punjabi feature “Nooran” starring Saima. During the shooting of a scene where Saima is raped, in burst a distraught Syed Noor from an adjacent set fuming at the treatment being meted out to his favourite heroine. Work came to an abrupt halt as Syed Noor threw his tantrum and he and Iqbal Kashmiri nearly came to blows due to this problem. Earlier it had been reported that Saima’s firebrand secretary also fired a salvo or two toward Mr. Kashmiri for trying to sully the reputation of Punjab’s current favourite daughter. Saima would do well to remind herself of the current position of down and out Anjuman who was also once a favourite of the fickle masses. Saima apparently kept quite silent during the fireworks at Evernew Studio, not offering a single word for or against Syed Noor’s protestations.

Neeli has announced her return to the fray with a film titled “Rastay”. Also itching to get back into the studios is director Shamim Ara who had to take a break after an horrific run of disastrous flops. She seems to have recouped and is now ready to try her luck in the new century. Let’s see if her putrid brand of filmmaking can make waves once again. Another casting tit bit is that Resham who was due to play one of the lead roles in Masood Butt’s Ghulam has been axed. Noor has replaced her as producers reckon, she is a much better bet at the Box Office despite the flopping of Sohni Kudi, Billi and No Paisa, No Problem in succession.

Other juicy gossip includes an item of Mishy Khan who has apparently taken several rooms in a building in Karachi and turned them into a massage parlour where dozens of girls are on offer for customers to get “massaged by”.

Shama magazine claims that Saima is unwilling to portray a role of a mother or a mature character. She still insists on being cast as the typical giggling village girl or then a college going type. The fact that Saima is in fact mother of three kids is further proof of her advancing age and yet the flat refusal to acknowledge it. Nothing new however among leading ladies to try to avoid the ageing process.

Sana who is becoming increasingly frustrated at not breaking through as a solo heroine has started becoming erratic in her work leading to her secretary giving up on her. He claims that he been having to deal with abusive and increasingly angry producers for whom she has not been showing up for work. Oh dear, not the way to go. Meanwhile Sana has hitched her price up from a paltry Rs. 40,000 per movie to double that figure after she signed on with the prestigious Madame Sangeeta repertoire. Resham is receiving Rs. 1,50,000 per show while the reigning queen Saima has jacked her demand up from Rs. 3,00,000 to Rs. 5,00,000. Keep in mind that Anjuman used to charge a whopping Rs. 3,00,000 way back in the late 70’s and the 80’s, which if you adjusted for inflation, would amount to much, much more. It is reported that Bahar Begum commands up to 80,000 per role which is quite a figure for a dame in her age bracket.

Meanwhile fading starlet Leila has been thrown out of a prominent Hotel for lewd and drunken behaviour (gasp!).  Apparently, she was entertaining a bunch of her admirers when her resistance to alcohol broke down and she succumbed to the most hideous kind of obscenities and lewd behaviour leading to her being chucked out altogether!

The secretary of Saima has apparently been on the receiving end of a solid thrashing as due to his heroine not showing up for shootings. Producer Arif Chowdhury has had to incur massive losses as his set and crew lay waiting for days for Lady Saima to show up. She never did and so Hanif Shah, her secretary paid for messing the irate Chowdhury around. Shama also report that the Anti Syed Noor group are busy trying to promote Sana as a successor to Saima as they see her as having the prerequisite assets for the Punjabi market. However, their efforts have yet to prove fruitful as Sana waits to be noticed in a big way by the masses. Saima still reigns supreme despite her advancing age.

Shama warns Noor not to get carried away by the success of Mujhe Chand Chahiye which they claim was due to the direction rather than her presence in the movie. Noor has been signing films like mad and apparently her nakhraas are increasing by the minute as is her price. However, she has yet to show form at the Box Office with each of her solo starrers biting the dust so far. The magazine also reports of a punch up between the fathers of Noor and Nirma in Quetta lately at a shooting. The dads exchanged heated words and nearly came to blows when the two girls started bitching at each other about the dresses they were being given to wear.

Nirma has been somewhat under pressure of late because despite snagging the all-important Lux commercial she has failed to make waves and her performance in No Paisa, No Problem was considered obscene. Not only that, the film bombed and she is almost without any assignments at the moment, Lux or no Lux. Noor’s dad didn’t waste any time reminding Nirma’s father of his daughters floundering career as opposed to the meteoric one of his own daughters. It all goes to show that parents should be banned from shooting sessions.

Rumours afloat about rampant lesbianism in the industry with Meera and Resham blabbing about how much they love each other in indiscreet drunken moments. Also, hot rumours of young heroines being given the “treatment” by Madame Sangeeta on the casting couch!

The word on Billo 420 is that it has not been appreciated by the masses and will join the heap of losing propositions. Barood too has not fared well.

Horror stories of a gruesome cat fight coming from the sets of Madame Sangeeta’s upcoming Gharana where actresses Resham and Khushboo let fly at each other with the worst expletives and then proceeded to rip each other’s clothes to shreds. It provided the entire unit with great entertainment even if work had to come to an early close on that particular day! Just another day in Lollywood!

We had the chance to spend an evening with the abovementioned terrific trio at the residence of an acquaintance in a lovely country house a twenty-minute car ride from Islamabad. We arrived to rudely interrupt what seemed like a jovial and utterly informal family supper and were beckoned to sit down and chow down. It was bad enough arriving bang in the middle of dinner and worse to munch down the food despite the generous hospitality of our guests.

Seated near the head of what was an extremely long dining table was Pakistan’s ace director who is also probably the most prolific director on the planet with a couple of new releases every single month of the year! Alongside him was the nation’s number leading lady, Saima and seated opposite her was her, Babar Ali. Noor was full of beans and little anecdote’s and totally relaxed which was a pleasant surprise. Saima appeared completely demure and quiet and barely spoke to anyone other than Syed Noor or Babar Ali. She appeared comfortable yet not confident enough to speak up or join in the conversation very much. Maybe she was just being polite, but rumour has it that she is always very, very quiet and reserved. She was pleasant enough, but generally very quiet. We were thrilled and delighted to learn that Saima NEVER returns to Lahore without visiting The Hot Spot and even on this particular trip had vowed to find our new venue and duly did!

Syed Noor was very kind and generous in his praise of the décor and he particularly mentioned the small curved windows. Babar Ali remained rather quiet through the evening occasionally cracking some joke or the other which was often only appreciated by Saima. One latifa by Syed Noor had the gathering cracking up with Saima especially displaying rare animation. Saima was without make up and looked nice but totally unremarkable. How she transforms herself into a Lollywood’s number One siren from the quiet demure person that she is in reality is quite remarkable and an indication of her ability to “switch on” for the camera. It was difficult to believe the story that this demure, silent and shy woman was discovered as a teenager performing topless mujra’s in Multan.

Babar Ali was even less attractive than he is on screen though we have been told that he was very good looking before he put on weight. Also, part of the gathering was young Syed Noor discovery Shamil who appeared a smart, bright eyed and well-spoken lad.