Veteran actress Shammi breathed her last in Mumbai on Tuesday morning, passing away at the age of 89. The actress, best known as Shammi aunty to most of the industry, had acted in well over 100 movies like Jab Jab Phool Khille, Ittefaq, Half Ticket and TV shows like Dekh Bhai Dekh, Zabaan Sambhaal Ke and Shriman Shrimati. Born Nargis Rabadi, she lost her only sister Mani Rabadi a few years ago, and had no relatives, except an adopted son, Iqbal Rizvi.
A slew of Bollywood stars, like Amitabh Bachchan and Farah Khan paid tributes to Shammi, as did politician Priya Dutt, who recalled her friendship with the late Nargis Dutt.
Yesteryear actress Asha Parekh, who had been a friend of Shammi’s for over half a century is barely able to contain her sobs. “I haven’t wept so much since I lost my parents. I called her Shammi aunty; she was much older than I was, but we were best friends for years. She had a natural trait to win people’s confidence. She was close to many actresses, who poured their hearts out to her. With me, it was special. We spent many decades together. She was my closest friend, confidante, and after my parents’ death, a guardian angel. Now she’s gone,” sobs Asha, reminiscing the good memories of the ever-jovial actress.
Rakhee Gulzar was also close to Shammi, and even acted in a movie produced by the late actress in 1985, Pighalta Aasman. “Shammi aunty taught me how to laugh out loud and to not hold it back. You see, as girls we were taught to not laugh loudly, but she made me realise that there was nothing unwomanly about loud laughter,” she says.
In 1970, the actress married filmmaker Sultan Ahmed, and she’d later recall it as the biggest mistake of her life, as the two parted acrimoniously.
Says Asha, The last few years of her life were miserable. Her health was failing and she often had no domestic help. She would come stay with me, but we didn’t share many laughs as her faculties were affected.”
Born in 1929 in a family of Parsi priests, Shammi starred in Ustad Pedro, a hit from 1949.