Veteran Bollywood actress Asha Parekh got very emotional after the news of the demise of her best friend and guardian angel Nargis Rabadi broke out. Rabadi was fondly known as Shammi Aunty in the film industry. She passed away on Monday due to prolonged illness. She was 87 years old. Shammi had no relatives except an adopted son Iqbal Rizvi, who stayed closeby but not in the same apartment as his foster-mother. She was alone when the end came. Shammi, who lost her only sister — the famous designer Mani Rabadi — a few years ago, had rapidly become immobile and forgetful.
Asha, who had been her best friend for more than 50 years, said: “I haven’t wept so much since I lost my parents. I called her Shammi Aunty. She was much older than me. But we were best friends for years. She shared everything with me. It was a natural-born trait in her to win people’e confidence. She was close to many actresses who poured their heart out to her. With me, it was special. We had spent decades together. She was my closest friend, confidante and, after my parents’ death, a guardian angel. Now she’s gone.”
Asha broke down while trying to remember the good memories with the ever-jovial Shammi who made so many people laugh on and off screen
Rakhee, who was also very close to Shammi (and had in fact played the lead in ‘Pighalta Aasman’, the film that Shammi produced in 1985 with Raakhee and Shashi Kapoor in the lead), said: “Shammi Aunty taught me how to laugh out. To not hold back my laughter. You see, as girls we were always taught not to laugh loudly. Shammi Aunty made me realise there was nothing unwomanly about loud laughter. She made my happiness come out of my throat.”
In 1970, Shammi married filmmaker Sultan Ahmed. She described it as the biggest mistake of her life. The two parted acrimoniously.
Asha recalled: “I did Sultan Ahmed saab’s ‘Heera’ only because of Shammi Aunty. The laughter stopped when she was about 80. The last 8-9 years of Shammi Aunty’s life were miserable. Her health was failing. And she often had no domestic help. She would come and stay with me. We couldn’t share as much laughter as we did earlier since her hearing faculties were affected.”
Born in 1929 into a family of Parsi priests, Shammi began her career in films in 1949 with a film called “Ustad Pedro” with Sheikh Mukhtar who was then quite a name. It was a hit. And there was no looking back thereafter — Shammi went on to do all kind of roles.
Shammi’s last film was Bela Segal’s “Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi”. It starred Farah Khan and Boman Irani in lead roles.