Shabnam, who looked and sounded visibly moved by the kind of affection showered on her by the people who had come to see her in large numbers, said she was so happy that she could not find words to express herself. She said she was indebted to two persons — her godfather Ilyas Rasheedi of Nigar Weekly and Waheed Murad for helping her out in her early days in the film industry. (Her first film Samandar was a Waheed Murad production directed by Rafique Rizvi).
She said she was pleasantly surprised that the younger generation in Pakistan knew her, and thanked PTV and the government for bestowing the Lifetime Achievement Award on her. She said such awards should also be given to those Pakistani artists who were alive.
The actress lamented that the Pakistan film industry had become defunct, and said she could not go to the film studios in Lahore during her recent visit to the city because had she visited those deserted studios it would have hurt her. She requested the government to help save the film industry so that she and people like her could again get a chance to work in films.
Robin Ghosh in his typical gentle style tried to go down memory lane and found it difficult. He fondly remembered the time when Mehdi Hasan Khan used to rehearse with him, and rued that those days would not return. He said Mehnaz had a good voice and while composing songs for her he would lower the scale.
He told the gathering that the singer could also cook well. He claimed there was talent in Pakistan. He informed the audience there was a film industry in this part of the subcontinent (Lahore) before Bombay (Mumbai) became prominent. He said Noor Jehan, Rasheed Atre and G. A. Chishti used to live in Calcutta (Kolkata). He urged the government to take steps for the revival of film business.
When Robin Ghosh was about to leave the podium, the host of the show Iqbal Latif requested him to sing the famous song ‘Piyar bhare dau sharmeeley nain’ which he had composed for a Pakistani movie. The music composer obliged and sang the mukhra of the song very well.
Film actor Nadeem said his success in films had a lot to do with Robin Ghosh’s music and Shabnam’s acting. He said he had done countless films with Shabnam and the credit went to the actress for the success of those films. He remarked that Shabnam was a sincere, untiring and dedicated actress who did films in a language (Urdu) that was not her mother tongue.
He said Shabnam and Ghosh might have returned to Pakistan after 14 years, he believed they had actually never gone anywhere. He seconded one of earlier speakers’ opinion that there should be co-productions between Pakistan and Bangladesh and Bangladeshi films should be dubbed into Urdu so that they could be screened in Pakistan.
Actor Mustafa Qureshi said the way Shabnam had met Lehri and Zeba (in Lahore) he would also like to visit those actors and technicians who once worked in Pakistani films and now lived in Bangladesh. He said if Indian films could be shown in Pakistan, Bengali films with Urdu dubbing could also be screened in the country.
Sindh IT minister Raza Haroon, who was the chief guest of the event, hailed Shabnam and Robin Ghosh as two legends of the Pakistan film industry and welcomed them to Karachi. He resented that the couple had gone to Bangladesh, and commented that had we not been unjust to our Bengali brothers, they would never have opted for Bangladesh.
Aslam Ilya, Saeed Rizvi, Munawwar Saeed, Ahmed Shah, Ajaz Farooqi, Bindiya, Salma Murad, Alamgir, Arshad Mehmood, Zeba Shahnaz and Nawab Ahsan also spoke. Iqbal Latif conducted the programme.