Veteran actor Khurshid Shahid bows out at 95

Published 28 Jun, 2021 10:51am

Playwright Asghar Nadeem Syed said Shahid was perhaps the last figure from the classical school of acting.

Distinguished actor Begum Khurshid Shahid, who was mother of noted actor Salman Shahid, passed away in Lahore on Sunday following cardiac arrest. She was 95.

Her funeral prayers were offered at Phase 2, T Block, Defense mosque, while her burial was held in Phase-7 graveyard. The funeral was attended by friends and family.

Salman Shahid told Dawn that his mother was born in Delhi. She also learnt classical singing from seasoned singers of her time. She started appearing in plays from early days of the Pakistan Television (PTV). Her first TV play was a comedy Ras Malai. Later, she rendered memorable performances in many long plays aired by the state-run organisation, many of them written by Ashfaq Ahmed and his wife Bano Qudsia. Her famous TV plays include Fehmida Ki Kahani Ustani Rahat Ki Zubani, Kiran Kahani, Zair Zabar Pesh, Uncle Urfi and Dhund. She also did a few films such as Chingari and Bhola Sajan. She was awarded Pride of Performance in 1990s.

Khurshid Shahid was born in 1926 in Delhi, where her father was a government official. She started singing at the age of nine at the All India Radio, Delhi, and learnt singing from classical music giants such as Roshan Lal Nagrath, Feroz Nizami and Bhaie Lal Muhammad and later from melody queen Roshan Ara Begum, with whom she also did sangat on the Tanpura.

In Delhi, Shahid, along with her sisters used to watch performances of Ram Leela, sort of a religious theatre. She was in grade six when a Congress leader, Aruna Asif Ali, came to her school and her classmates told Ms Ali about her singing and acting talents. She was selected for a musical performance. Ms Ali later took her to the All India Radio where renowned music composer Feroz Nizami listened her singing and encouraged her. At the All India Radio she interacted with music director Roshan Lal Nagrath, popular Indian actor Hrithik Roshan’s grandfather.

After the Partition, her family moved to Lahore, where she started visiting the Radio Pakistan, being headed by Mehmood Nizami as station director. She started learning classical music from Bhai Lal, the noted classical singer.

Quest of singing also took her to renowned classical singer Roshan Ara Begum, whom she first saw performing at the Lahore Arts Council and was mesmerised. She became her pupil and also used to play the Taanpura with her.

She also did a lot of theatre, mostly performing at the Lahore Arts Council, then confined to a house with sprawling lawns.

Commenting on her acting career, former PTV producer Ayub Khawar said right from the start of the PTV, till late 80s we see remarkable work of Khurshid Shahid as she was the most prominent actor of her times. She was a versatile actor, he said, adding Shahid never used glycerin when her role demanded shedding tears as her tears were always natural.

Playwright Shahid Nadeem from Ajoka remembered she used to live in Laxmi Mansion, a place where Manto also lived. He said she had a valuable contribution to the PTV in its early years. Mentioning her association with Ajoka, Nadeem said she played a memorable role in Lal Suhaag, an adaptation of a Spanish play by Lorca, that was staged at Goethe Institute.

Playwright Asghar Nadeem Syed said Shahid was perhaps the last figure from the classical school of acting.

Veteran Actor Usman Pirzada said that he had childhood memories of Khurshid Shahid. “She was also a student of my father Rafi Peer and was a great radio and television artiste. She also learnt music with great dedication.”

PTV Lahore Station General Manager Saifuddin, in a condolence message, expressed deep sorrow and grief on the demise of Khurshid Shahid, saying she was an institution.

Her son Salman Shahid said that her mother led a full life. He said he considered himself fortunate to be Khurshid Shahid's son, adding that his mother let her do whatever he wanted to do in life.

Originally published in Dawn, June 28th, 2021

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