LAHORE: Renowned Pakistani film actress and mother of Shan Shahid, Neelo Begum has died in Lahore on Saturday.
Taking to social networking website, Twitter, film star Shan Shahid confirmed that his mother has died of cancer. He said, “It is with the saddest of heart I share the departure of my mother as she has gone to her creator .may ALLAH bless her Red heart”
Neelo was born Cynthia Alexander Fernandes on 30 June 1940 in Bhera, Sargodha, Pakistan. At age 16, she appeared in Bhowani Junction (1956), a Hollywood film shot in and around Lahore. She got her big breakthrough in Pakistani films when she performed on the song “Aaye mausam, rangilay suhanay” in the film Saat Lakh (1957) with music by the renowned music director Rasheed Attre.
In 1965, 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 during his official visit to Pakistan; 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.
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. 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. Film Zarqa (1969) was produced and directed by Riaz Shahid who also wrote its screenplay. Neelo helped her husband, Riaz Shahid, produce this film and it became the best known film of her career.