Sabiha Khanum

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Sabiha Khanum
Born Mukhtar Begum
Friday, 30 Rajab, 1355 A.H/ October 16, 1936
Gujrat, Punjab, British India
Years active 1950–present
Spouse(s) Santosh Kumar
Children Syed Ahsan Raza, Fareeha Shaharyar and Afia Chaudhry//
Parent(s) Muhammad Ali & Iqbal Bano

Sabiha Khanum[1] (Punjabi, Urdu: صبیحہ خانم‎, born Mukhtar Begum, 16 October 1935, Gujrat) is a Pakistani film actress. She was the leading star of Pakistani cinema in the 1950s and 1960s and continued to pay award winning roles for the duration of the 80's and 90's. She also acted in well respected and award winning television dramas.

Most of Sabiha's movies were with her husband, the late Santosh Kumar (Syed Musa Raza). Sabiha and Santosh were highly regarded as the "perfect couple" and their fans were enthralled and delighted to see them acting together in award winning and wonderful films together.

Early life[edit]

Mukhtar Begum is the daughter of Mohammad Ali (Maahia) from Delhi and Iqbal Begum (Baalu) from Amritsar, Punjab, India. She was raised in a conservative rural environment by her grandparents, but got her first acting opportunity on stage in Lahore, after moving there to be with her father.

A cultural delegation visited a cinema house in Sialkot, Pakistan in 1948. Mukhtar Begum, who was part of the delegation, sang the Punjabi song "Kithay gae yoon pardesia way" from the film Sassi Punnoon (which starred Baalu and Aslam). The performance was praised, and soon Mohammad Ali introduced his daughter to a noted stage drama writer and poet, Nafees Khaleeli. Noting her determination, Khaleeli offered her a role in the drama But shikan, which she accepted. Nafees Khaleeli gave her the screen name of Sabiha Khanum.

Current life[edit]

She lives with her daughter in Leesburg, Virginia, USA.


On Nafees Khaleeli's request, the film director Masood Pervez offered her a role in the film Beli, giving Sabiha her debut as a film actress in 1948. Beli was also the first film of Masood Pervez as director; the cast was Santosh, Shaheena and Sabiha.

Next Sabiha played the role of 'Noori' in famous director/producer Anwar Kamal Pasha's silver jubilee film Do aansoo, starring Santosh, Gulshan Ara and Sabiha. Do aansoo takes a realistic approach to the tragedy both in scenery and characterization. The film was the crowning achievement of the then movie crew.

Sabiha gained immense prominence in her next movie Aaghosh, directed by Murtaza Jilani, starring Santosh, Sabiha, and Gulshan Ara. The secret of Sabiha's success in the Pakistani cinema includes flexibility, rooted in love and understanding, in addition to the fact that she is an embodiment of courage, kindness and decency. In the annals of Pakistani film industry, she dazzled cine-goers in the 1950s. Her role, in the film 'Ghulam', released in 1953, directed by Anwar Kamal Pasha, with Santosh was excellent. Her motivation was always clear and resolute. Directors admired her ability to improvise because she was unquestionably talented and irrepressibly ambitious.

Her role in the film Gum naam is a testament to her magnificent artistic calibre. The movie was directed by Anwar Kamal Pasha, starring Seema, Sudhir and Sabiha. This film is a parable about a mentally retarded girl, smartly dubbed by Sabiha, is a pleasure to watch. Further, the interesting story actually carries the film through to the end.

The high profile reputation which Sabiha achieved in the 1950s and 1960s as an actress has increased manifold. She played the role of 'Nooran' in the romantic Punjabi film, directed by M.S. Daar. Her character in the film Dula Bhatti is, indeed, an achievement of a lifetime.

Sabiha was cast opposite all renowned actors of her time. However, she will be remembered most for her films with Santosh Kumar. Along the way, she found the love of her life - Santosh Kumar. Once married, they enjoyed a great future together, which destiny showers on very few film couples.

Movie-goers were treated to a succession of films about popular romance like the film Wada (Sabiha,Santosh). This film was followed by another spate of magnificent movies, which provided countless hours of pleasure to millions of their fans. Paasbaan, Sheikh Chilli, Aas paas, Sassi, Sohni, Choti begum, Daata, Hatim, Aaj kal, Dil mein tu, Ayaz, Mehfil, Pervaaz, Tufaan, and Pholay Khan are a few names to mention.

The push to reach the zenith did fire her imagination since her earlier days. Her genius in succeeding was largely based on character-patience, self-discipline, rationality and inner resolve. Moreover, her independence of mind and ability to focus on her work also served her well.

Sabiha's achievement along with Santosh Kumar in the following films is still a worthy yardstick: Saat lakh, Darbar, Sardar, Saltanat, Mukhra, Muskurahat, Rishta, Hasrat, Ishrat, Shikwa, Teray baghair, Mauseeqar, Dulhan, Kaneez, Dewar bhabi, Shaam dhalay, Shahenshah Jehangir, Pak daman, Anjuman, Sarfarosh, Inteqaam, Qatil, Sawaal, Commander, and Mohabbat.

Her unparalleled performance in innumerable movies is classic characterizations which viewers watch with glee to this day. Her role in the film Anjuman was not only unique for her, but a real life test of integrity as well. Confidence in one's own judgment, she realized early on, is what matters most. She won the hearts of her fans with her role in the following films: Director Hasan Tariq's films Tehzeeb and Ik gunah aur sahi, Director Zia Sarhadi's film Rah guzar, Director Zahoor Raja's film Deewana and Director Jameel Akhtar's film Aik Raat.

Sabiha, the first lady of the Pakistani silver screen, won the pride of performance award from the government of Pakistan, and her face was lit by a smile. Her look is simple and it is simply everywhere. To talk of her in the twenty first century is to perceive the style and the substance of a graceful lady who defined two generations. Her four decades of meritorious work in the Pakistani cinema brought her numerous laurels from virtually everywhere. Her bright smile speaks for her in many ways. She also appeared in drama serials from Karachi and Lahore television stations. She depicts the wit and homespun wisdom of ordinary Pakistanis. Her brand of patriotism and her down-home style had wide appeal.

The following two national songs, which she sang, sparked patriotism, renewed inspiration and symbolized in today's terms the Pakistani dream of human achievement and the unrelenting march toward betterment:

  • Sohni dharti Allah rakhay qadam qadam aabad tujhay
  • Jug jug jeeye mera pyara watan, lub pay dua hai dil mein lagun

In Anwar Maqsood's stage show, Silver Jubilee, she rendered the following song Yaad karoon tujhay sham saweray from the film Mauseeqar. As the final lyrics faded away that evening, the audience stood and applauded, paying her great tribute. Though most of the people, belonging to that 'nostalgic era' are now dead but her performance in the films speaks volumes.

Sabiha, who has been in the public eye for four decades, at last retired, and now lives with her eldest daughter in U.S.A. Her son and the youngest daughter are also settled there.


Sabiha Khanum has won several Nigar awards:

  • Best actress for the film Saat lakh in 1957
  • Best actress for the film Shikwa in 1963
  • Special award for the film Dewar bhabi in 1967
  • Special award for the film Ik gunah aur sahi in 1975
  • Special award for her thirty years of acting career in 1981
  • Best supporting actress in director Hasan Tariq's film Sungdil in 1982


  • 1950 Beli
  • 1950 Do aansoo
  • 1950 Hamari basti
  • 1951 Ghairat
  • 1951 Pinjra
  • 1953 Barkha
  • 1953 Ghulam
  • 1953 Sailab
  • 1953 Aaghosh
  • 1954 Gumnam
  • 1954 Raat ki baat
  • 1954 Sassi
  • 1955 Inteqam
  • 1955 Mehfil
  • 1955 Qatil
  • 1955 Shararay
  • 1955 Sohni
  • 1955 Toofan
  • 1956 Chhoti begum
  • 1956 Dulla Bhatti
  • 1956 Hameeda
  • 1956 Hatim
  • 1956 Sarfarosh
  • 1957 Bholey Khan
  • 1957 Daata
  • 1957 Ishq-e-Laila
  • 1957 Pasban
  • 1957 Sardar
  • 1957 Saat laakh
  • 1957 Waada
  • 1957 Aankh ka Nashah
  • 1957 Aas Paas
  • 1958 Darbar
  • 1958 Dil mein too (Urdu)
  • 1958 Hasrat
  • 1958 Mukhra
  • 1958 Sheikh Chilli
  • 1959 Muskarahat
  • 1959 Naghma-e-Dil
  • 1959 Naaji
  • 1959 Tere baghair
  • 1959 Aaj kall
  • 1960 Ayaz
  • 1960 Rahguzar
  • 1960 Saltanat
  • 1960 Sham dhaley
  • 1962 Mousiqaar
  • 1963 Daaman
  • 1963 Rishta
  • 1963 Shikwa
  • 1964 Deevana
  • 1964 Ishrat
  • 1965 Kaneez
  • 1966 Sawaal
  • 1966 Tasveer
  • 1967 Devar Bhabi
  • 1967 Sitamgar
  • 1967 Aag
  • 1968 Commander
  • 1968 Naheed
  • 1968 Shehnshah-e-Jahangir
  • 1969 Ladla
  • 1969 Maa Beta
  • 1969 Pakdaaman
  • 1970 Anjuman
  • 1970 Matrai Maa
  • 1970 Mohabbat rang laye gi
  • 1970 Sajna door deya
  • 1971 Banda Bashar
  • 1971 Bhain Bhara
  • 1971 Garhasti
  • 1971 Jaltey Sooraj ke neechey
  • 1971 Tehzeeb
  • 1971 Yaar Des Punjab de
  • 1972 Ek Raat
  • 1972 Mohabbat
  • 1972 Sir da sain
  • 1972 Aao pyar karen
  • 1973 Khawab aur Zindgi
  • 1973 Sharabi
  • 1974 Deedar
  • 1974 Miss Hippy
  • 1974 Pyar di nishani
  • 1974 Qismat
  • 1974 Rangi
  • 1974 Sayyo ni mera Mahi
  • 1975 Bikhrey Moti (Urdu)
  • 1975 Dhan jigra Maa da (Punjabi)
  • 1975 Farz te Aulaad (Punjabi)
  • 1975 Ik gunah aur sahi (Urdu)
  • 1975 Isar (Urdu)
  • 1975 Neki badi (Urdu)
  • 1975 Pehchan (Urdu)
  • 1975 Roshni (Urdu)
  • 1975 Watan Iman (Punjabi)
  • 1975 Zanjeer (Urdu)
  • 1976 Aulad (Urdu)
  • 1976 Rastey ka Pathar (Urdu)
  • 1976 Wardat (Punjabi)
  • 1976 Zubaida (Urdu)
  • 1977 Kaloo (Urdu)
  • 1977 Mere Hazoor (Urdu)
  • 1977 Aag aur Zindgi (Urdu)
  • 1978 Abhi to main jawan hun (Urdu)
  • 1978 Haidar Ali (Urdu)
  • 1978 Shera (Punjabi)
  • 1978 Tamashbeen (Punjabi)
  • 1979 Do rastey (Urdu)
  • 1979 Raja ki aye gi Barat (Urdu)
  • 1979 Waday Ki Zanjeer (Urdu)
  • 1980 Badmashi band (Punjabi)
  • 1980 Rishta (Urdu)
  • 1981 Anokha Daaj (Punjabi)
  • 1981 Parvah nein (Punjabi)
  • 1982 Sangdil (Urdu)
  • 1982 Wohti jee (Punjabi)
  • 1984 ishq nachawe gali gali (Punjabi)
  • 1984 Kamyabi (Urdu)
  • 1985 Deewane do (Urdu)
  • 1985 Mehak (Urdu)
  • 1989 Mohabbat ho to aisi (Urdu)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Khanum is an honorific title for women, which in this case is part of the screen name of the actress. Begum is likewise an honorific title and not a surname.

External links[edit]