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Oct 31, 2014, 6:09:17 PM10/31/14
The dark side of Lollywood
By M. Saeed AwanUpdated 3 days ago
Nannah and Nazli in the film Dewar Bhabhi
Some of Lollywood’s mindboggling mysteries and tragedies created quite
a stir at the time they first occurred but with the passage of time
the hype died down and the memory of these ill-fated celebrities whose
lives were unceremoniously cut short abruptly faded away into the
murky annals of time.

Here, Images on Sunday revives their luster and presents a concise
list of Lollywood superstars who suffered unfortunate circumstances
and succumbed to mysterious deaths.


Niggo was an attractive young woman who impressed all those she came
across with her excellent dancing skills. She was chosen by all the
Punjabi filmmakers of her time to perform classic mujra dance numbers
in their films which were equivalent to the ‘item’ numbers in
present-day films. Niggo, thus, was the first and foremost choice for
the mujra girl.


Like other successful film industries around the world, Lollywood too
is plagued by mysterious deaths, unsolved murders and unexplained


While working in the film Qasu (1972) produced by Khawaja Mazhar, she
fell in love with the producer and they got married soon after. The
marriage sparked fury in Niggo’s family (according to the old
tradition of Lahore’s Shahi Mohalla no girl can marry or travel
without her family being compensated financially).

Dancer Niggo was the first choice of filmmakers for the classic mujra
When all attempts to bring her back proved futile, Niggo’s mother
pretended to be terminally ill and begged Niggo to come and see her
one last time. Upon her visit, the mother and some close family
members brainwashed Niggo into believing that her husband was not
right for her and her family. She succumbed to family pressure and
refused to return to her husband’s home.

An unsuspecting and utterly confused Khawaja Mazhar dispatched his
production controller, called Mamma, to bring the situation under
control and pave the way for Niggo’s return. Even music director
Manzoor Ashraf, who had Niggo’s ear at the time when the love affair
was in full bloom, could not convince her to return to her husband’s


After Nannah started delivering flops and fell on hard times
financially, Nazli started to lose interest in him as well. He
allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself with a shotgun in
Lahore on June 2, 1986. However, the actual circumstances leading to
Nannah’s death remain a mystery to this day.


Then came the fateful day when a furious Khawaja Mazhar reached the
red light area and opened fire with a Sten Gun (a popular choice of
firearm in those days) and killed his wife Niggo on the spot. The news
of her murder spread like wildfire since such an incidence within the
industry was unheard of during those days. Niggo’s mother vowed
revenge, and Khawaja Mazhar was sentenced to life imprisonment by a
court of law. Naturally the media had a heyday during the very public
trial. After completing his sentence, Khawaja Mazhar died a natural
death and was buried in his home town in Gujranwala.


Rafi Khawar aka Nannah’s performance was widely appreciated in the
first PTV comedy series, Alif Noon with Kamal Ahmed Rizvi.

Early in the career, he used to play minor roles in Punjabi movies
since in the presence of Munawwar Zareef and Rangeela it was difficult
for him to make place for himself in Lollywood. However, all that
changed after the film Ziddi (1973) and later on with the Urdu film
Naukar (1975). He began to be paired more frequently in comic roles
with Tammana Begum in Urdu movies, playing the role of a father,
grandfather or servant.

He then landed a chance to play the male lead in Tehka Pehlwan (1979)
the same year his film Dubai Chalo directed by Haidar Chaudhry became
a super-hit.

Despite the dominance of Sultan Rahi and action films, the mostly
comic act of Nannah and Ali Ejaz (of Dubai Chalo fame) gained immense
popularity in the first half of the ’80s, and were seen in more than
50 movies in the main lead. In the films of that era, Sultan Rahi was
usually paired with Anjuman, Ali Ejaz with Mumtaz and Rani, and Nannah
with Nazli.

Nannah and Nazli became romantically involved and were often seen
together in public. The best proof of their love on film can be seen
in the song Vekh meri baanh tap di mundia, Aakhian rehndiyan mast
mast,Mera kar le koi bandobast, and also in Ve yari tori na, Ve mukh
methon moree na (Tehka Pehlwan).

According to an inside source, money was never an issue with Nannah
during his love affair with Nazli. His celebrity status was at an
all-time high and he was delivering hits left, right and centre. He
even forced his producers to cast Nazli with him in all his films.
Nazli made the most of the opportunity and the two became inseparable.
But after Nannah started delivering flops and fell on hard times
financially, Nazli started to lose interest in him as well.

Nannah allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself with a shotgun
in Lahore on June 2, 1986. A witness, producer Jamshaid Zafar,
narrates that there was a pool of blood in the room and it was a truly
horrific scene, something that appeared to be right out of a mystery
crime film. However, the actual circumstances leading to Nannah’s
death remain a mystery to this day. There were also rumours that he
had decided to give away all his property to actress Nazli which sent
alarm bells ringing within his family.

Sultan Rahi

Sultan Rahi’s sudden death dealt a terrible blow to Punjabi films and
it was a loss from which the industry never fully recovered.
The legendarily prolific Sultan Rahi worked in over 703-plus Punjabi
films and 100 Urdu films. I personally witnessed him working on three
film sets in a single day. After shooting one scene at Evernew
Studios, he would hurriedly move to Bari Studios adjacent to Evernew
for the next film shot. After spending almost three to four hours on
different sets, he would then move to Shahnoor Studios where another
shooting crew would be anxiously waiting for him.

The best thing about Rahi was his immense commitment to work and his
pleasant demeanor when dealing with the low-paid production crew.

Above everything else, he was a sure thing, someone who could recover
the producer’s investment. During the span of his film career, he won
almost 160 awards. Some of his major films include Maula Jatt,Sher
Khan, Chan Veryam, Babul Sadqay Tere, Sharif Badmash,Basheera and
Wehsi Gujjar. Among other works of charity, he is also accredited of
having a mosque built in Bari Studios and also financing a film for
junior artists. Some of his best pairing in films was with actresses
such as Aasiya, Anjuman and Saima.

On January 9, 1996, he was returning late at night from Islamabad when
his car’s tyre deflated near Samanabad Chungi close to Gujranwala on
Main G.T. Road. Taking advantage of the darkness and deserted
surroundings, some men approached the vehicle and opened fire on him.
Rahi sustained serious injuries and was rushed to the DHQ Hospital in
Gujranwala where he breathed his last.


She had a sparkling element to her dazzling beauty coupled with
brilliant acting skills. She dominated the Lollywood screen for eight
years, acting in both Punjabi and Urdu movies. Besides acting she was
a woman of gentle demeanour and was respected widely among colleagues.
She was often found making generous charity donations to film
technicians and their families.

When Nadra first entered the studios, she arrived in the most
expensive car at that time which she personally owned.
Besides films, she also used to perform at private functions and it is
rumoured that she once earned Rs5.2 million (52 lacs) for a single
night’s mujra. Uptill then, film star Naina was rumored to have made
Rs5.6million (56 lacs) likewise. Like Nadra, she also succumbed to a
similar fate.

“Jiss waqt Nadra ne studio main pehla qadam rakha, to woh uss time ki
mehngi tareen car mein studios aaye thi. Warna to zyada tar adakarain
dosron ki cars ya rickshaw/taxi mein studio pohonchti theen,” (When
Nadra first entered the studios, she arrived in the most expensive car
at that time which she personally owned. Back then aspiring actresses
usually arrived at the studios in other people’s cars or by
rickshaws/taxis) remembers Guddu of Guddu Film Archive.

Due to Nadra’s ethereal good looks, a lot of affluent and
well-connected people were also quite eager to find favour with her.
Someone close to Nadra at the time told this writer that once during a
trip to London, she had withdrawn money from a bank which was
transferred from the Emirates.

She also started a property buying business with her husband which led
to a misunderstanding and conflict between them. In 1995, she was
gunned down while leaving a restaurant, and while some suspicion did
fall on her husband the police investigation gave no results. No
arrests were ever made by the authorities in connection to her murder.

Nadra’s death dealt a severe blow to Lollywood producers who had
signed her in their forthcoming movies. She left a definite and
lasting impact on the industry during her brief career span.

Yasmeen Khan:

Shamshad alias Yasmeen Khan was born in Peshawar in 1950 and she
shifted to Karachi in the early ’60s where she launched her film
career by playing a lead role in the first ever hit Pashto movie
Yousaf Khan Sherbano released in December 1970.

When the Urdu action film Dulhan Ek Raat Ki was released in 1975, it
made the Pushto actors in the cast overnight stars, including Yasmeen
Khan who was featured in the excellently choreographed dance
number,Aaja aaja karle pyar, kehti hai suhani shaam. It made her into
a superstar and she was later cast in Punjabi movies as well, such as
Hathkari(1976) where she appeared in the song, Jawani meri bijli
toofan mera nakhra.

Shamshad started her film career as Yasmeen Khan from Karachi and as
the female lead in the first-ever hit Pashto film Yousuf Khan Sherbano
in 1970.
However, Yasmeen Khan distanced herself from the film industry when
vulgarity and obscenity crept into Pushto cinema, tarnishing the image
of true Pukhtun culture and identity.

Yasmeen’s first marriage to film star Saqi ended in divorce. Later,
she married Khurram Bari, the owner of Bari Studios. Unfortunately,
the union also could not last long. A young man called Arifullah from
an affluent family had eyes only for Yasmeen and they got married and
shifted to Peshawar.

Yasmeen isolated herself from all kinds of showbiz activity and turned
to religion and charity. But Arif’s parents refused to accept Yasmeen
as a daughter-in-law and disinherited Arif who was prone to gambling,
among other vices, and already had a first wife, something which
Yasmeen found out much later. She tried her best to make him alter his
ways but only ended up making him furious.

Sick of Yasmeen’s attempts to reform him, on April 15, 1999 he killed
her and locked the door from outside. After two days, Yasmeen’s body
was found and given a decent burial. It shocked everyone, especially
those in Lollywood, as they had great admiration for the lady.

Later, Arifullah was murdered while trying to get married a third
time. His parents didn’t accept his dead body and his friends buried


She was picked up by Shahzad Rafiq for his film Goonghat (1996)
directed by Syed Noor which became a super hit. “I had seen her act in
a drama on PTV and was impressed by her acting skills,” says Shahzad.
According to Syed Noor she was quite professional and it’s not amazing
that she had relationship with Hanif Ghuman, an industrialist from

Andaleeb was introduced in the film Ghoonghat and became the first
acid attack victim of the film industry.
“Even outside showbiz, girls have boyfriends but showbiz personalities
attract more attention so people try to cultivate a special bond of
intimacy with them,” says Syed Noor aka Shahji.

Ghuman and Andaleeb used to meet frequently at various venues. After a
while, she lost interest in Hanif and tried to move on. Bent upon
revenge, he threw acid on her face in an attempt to disfigure her.
Afterwards, Andaleeb underwent extensive facial plastic surgery and
now leads a happily married life away from the showbiz spotlight.


She belonged to the rare breed of actresses who made it to Lollywood
despite her Sindhi background and within a very short span of time
secured her place in tinsel town.

Marvi featured in just three or four films but impressed viewers and
filmmakers alike with her boundless acting talent.

Faisal Qureshi and Marvi in the film Marvi.
Cashing in on her good fortune, a film producer cast her as the female
lead in his production titledMarvi with actor Faisal Qureshi. However,
fate had something else in store for this fledgling and she had hardly
taken flight when her wings were clipped by a jealous lover who
fatally shot her near a traffic signal near Tariq Road, Karachi, on
August 25, 1998.

Her body remained in the car she was driving with no one willing to
help her until the authorities arrived at the scene of the crime. By
then it was already too late. Again, no arrests were made in
connection to her murder and it remains unsolved to date. Marvi proved
to be the actress’ last film and it was released after her death.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, October 26th, 2014

Oct 20, 2017, 9:09:37 AM10/20/17
I sometimes wonder where those backing dancers are that used to dance with Anjuman, sangeeta rani and reema in the 90’s in all the Punjabi songs of the 80s and 90s.
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