Begum Khurshid Mirza

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Begum Khurshid Mirza (Urdu: بیگم خورشید مرزا ), also known by her screen name in India as Renuka Devi (1918 – 1989), was a Pakistani television actress in Pakistan and before that - she was a film actress in India in the pre-partition era.

Early life[edit]

Begum Khurshid Mirza was born as Khurshid Jehan to Sheikh Abdullah (educationalist) and Waheed Jahan Begum, the founders of Women's College, Aligarh, where she received her education. Her father was a practising lawyer and philanthropist who was keen to bring education and enlightenment to Muslim women. Her father was an open-minded and liberal man. Khurshid grew up in Aligarh and got married in 1934 to a police officer Akbar Mirza.[1][2][3]

Film career[edit]

Khurshid Mirza left the local world of Aligarh town to pursue a film career in Bombay. Mostly associated with Bombay Talkies, she acted in few of their films including Bhakti (1939), Badi Didi (1939), Jeevan Prabhat (1937), Bhabhi (1938) and Naya Sansar (1941), under the screen name Renuka Devi. In the Indian film industry, she played leading roles in box-office hits Sahara (1943), Ghulami (1945) and Samrat Chandragupta (1945). Besides acting, she also used to sing for her films.[4]

She announced her retirement from the Indian film industry in February 1944.

Television career[edit]

After the partition of India, she migrated to Pakistan. Several years later, sometimes after 1964, when Pakistan Television Corporation began its broadcast transmission and its TV drama serials started earning household fame, there was a need for professionals to train the young media crew. Aslam Azhar, a pioneer of PTV, himself encouraged her to perform for television, considering her experience in this field.[3] Then Begum Khurshid Mirza started her acting career in Pakistan using her real name.[4] It was a Haseena Moin's serial, entitled Kiran Kahani (1972), which rediscovered Khurshid Mirza as an actress. Her performance gained her rave reviews, even though she said in a later interview that it was slightly off-key. The next serial she worked in was Zer Zabar Pesh, also written by Haseena Moin. Her performance was regarded by many as one of the finest acting performances in that role, and this set the tone for the rest of her acting career.

She remained a character actress for PTV, Karachi television centre and had nearly a dozen of popular TV drama series to her credit, including Parchhain (1976), Uncle Urfi (1972) and a special play Massi Sherbate written by Fatima Surayya Bajia. She retired in 1985, with her last performance coming in PTV drama series Ana (1985). After her retirement, she moved to Lahore permanently to be with her daughters and their children.


Begum Khurshid Mirza penned her autobiography in 1982,[4] which discussed the life of a literary person in British India, journalism education and work in Lucknow, married life, Indian film industry, migration to Pakistan, adjusting to Karachi, and working on Pakistani television.[4] The autobiography originally appeared in the Pakistani monthly magazine Herald as a nine-part serial, from August 1982 to April 1983, under the title The Uprooted Sappling. Later, the collection was compiled in 2005 as a book under the title A woman of substance: the memoirs of Begum Khurshid Mirza.[5][1][6]

Social works[edit]

After migration to Pakistan, Khurshid Mirza worked for the All Pakistan Women's Association (APWA) as a volunteer helping destitute women.[1][7] When her husband was transferred to Quetta, she took charge of an APWA centre for healthcare in a rural area called Ismail Killi. She had also aired programmes on women's issues on radio.[1]


She was awarded the Pride of Performance by the President of Pakistan in 1984.[3]

PTV drama series[edit]

  • Kiran Kahani (1972)
  • Zer Zabar Pesh (1973)
  • Uncle Urfi (1972)[8]
  • Parchhaiyan (1976)
  • Rumi
  • Dhund
  • Choti Choti Baatein
  • Shama
  • Afshan
  • Man Chalay Ka Sauda[3]
  • Ana (1985)
  • Samandur[3]
  • Aagahi
  • Fehmida Ki Kahani, Ustani Rahat Ki Zubani[3]
  • Massi Sherbate
  • Show Shaa
  • Panah
  • Agar Nama Bar Milay


  • A Woman of Substance: The Memoirs Of Begum Khurshid Mirza (an autobiography, edited by Lubna Kazim. Delhi: Zubaan 2005)[1][6]

Death and legacy[edit]

Begum Khurshid Mirza died in 1989 at Lahore, Pakistan. In 2004, an event was arranged to pay tributes to Begum Khurshid Mirza in Lahore, where many Pakistani dignitaries gathered including Senator S.M. Zafar and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Director I.A. Rehman. They recalled her efforts for the tribal women during her stay in Quetta in the 1950s where she also used to hold events to raise funds for All Pakistan Women's Association (APWA).[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Breaking the mould: Bold & Beautiful: Begum Khurshid Mirza in her prime". The Telegraph (Indian newspaper). Calcutta, India. 8 May 2005. Retrieved 24 December 2019.
  2. ^ Slides of Begum Khurshid Mirza's bio-data on YouTube Uploaded 10 October 2010, Retrieved 24 December 2019
  3. ^ a b c d e f Ally Adnan (29 August 2014). "I wanted to be paid more than all other actors on PTV". The Friday Times (newspaper). Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d Renuka Devi (real name Begum Khurshid Mirza) Profile on website Published 8 November 2009, Retrieved 24 December 2019
  5. ^ "A Transformation of a Begum". 40: 5397–5399. JSTOR 4417552. Cite journal requires |journal= (help) Retrieved 24 December 2019
  6. ^ a b Woman Of Substance: The Memoirs Of Begum Khurshid Mirza on website Retrieved 24 December 2019
  7. ^ a b LAHORE: A tribute to late artiste (Begum Khurshid Mirza) Dawn (newspaper), Published 26 March 2004, Retrieved 24 December 2019
  8. ^ Uncle Urfi: A PTV Blockbuster All Things Pakistan website, Published 15 January 2011, Retrieved 24 December 2019

External links[edit]