Bengali actress Shabana’s career was inextricably linked with Pakistani film actor Nadeem. In fact when the erstwhile star made his screen debut in the Urdu hit film Chakori in 1967, he was paired with the actress who began her career in the late 50’s in a slew of Bengali films. Chakori was Shabana’s first Urdu film and Nadeem’s virgin thespian effort. Henceforth, all of Shabana’s films co-starred Nadeem. Shabana was known for her typically rural Bengali look .Sprightly on her toes she was often seen dancing coastal dances in ‘Machera’ (fisherman) milieus. Her uniform usually comprised a lungi, an arm full of jangly bangles, or tightly wraparound saris with a pallo dangling in front. Here, in a dance sequence from director Noor-ul-Ashraf’s Bengali film Bhagya Chakra, Shabana looks maiden-like in a black blouse, checked sari, tiny jhoomkay and a long, thick, single-parted choti. Even when she acted in big city type roles, she eschewed modern Twist-like dances. Her cosmopolitan roles included Anari, Chotey Sahab, Chand aur Chandni and Chand Suraj. Chand Suraj was an interesting exercise. An experimental film by Pakistani director Mustafiz, similar in technique to Robert Altman’s latter-day, “Shortcuts”, the first half was devoted to the relationship between Waheed Murad and Rozina, while later unconnected interludes were focused on Shabana and evergreen co-star Nadeem.
After the fall of East Pakistan in 1971, Shabana remained absent from the Pakistani film world. She resurfaced in the 80’s, when co-productions among South Asian countries became a popular style of film making including roles in Basera (1983) Zameen Aasman, and Aandhi again all with Nadeem. Many films insiders believed that upon her return to Pakistan, Shabana would topple the effervescent Shabnam who earlier in her own career had developed a complex rivalry with Shabna. But filmwallahs were mistaken. (Later of course Shabnam went on to co-star with Nadeem in countless films). Crestfallen, Shabana packed her bags and returned to Bangladesh in the late 80’s where she still continued to make Bengali films without Nadeem.