Your real name?
It’s Afsar Unissa Begum.
My age? Don’t be rude. But I’ll tell you I’m over 40, make anything of that if you want to.
Tell us something about yourself?
I’m from a nawabi (royal) family of Hyderabad. I’d come to Bombay for holidays, I was fond of movies. So, I told myself, why don’t I become a heroine? The mirror said yes, you must. I became a heroine opposite Ajit in Maan. But I became really popular with Chor Bazaar with Shammi Kapoor as the hero. I’ve done all sorts of films: historicals, socials, you name it. I’ve acted opposite Rajendra Kumar, Balraj Sahni, Pradeep Kumar, Mahipal and Feroz Khan. I lived in a bungalow-type house, I changed seven cars as I became more and more popular. I’ve done 111 films, I’ve counted them actually. I was in India’s first jungle color film— Zimbo! I was in AVM studio’s Baap Bete. But then there was an ajeeb si tragedy. I became too choosy, by dilly dallying whether I should do this film or that film I lost a lot of time.
Work stopped coming and there wasn’t the kind of money flow as earlier. And don’t ask me about things like marriage. Just forget it. I do feel lonely at times but I’m trying to work as much as I can. I’m okay, I’ve a decent 650 square foot flat, a phone. God forbid, I’ve never starved. I’ve adjusted to the times. I like travelling by auto rickshaw, it’s like sitting on a jhoola (swing).
Maybe I can still start some business on my own. And I must tell you I have never indulged in bad habits like going to the races. Horses frighten me. I’m also frightened by the way today’s heroines look on the screen— why are all of them throwing off all their clothes? (Interviewed by Khalid Mohamed in 1990)