In a land ruled by the arts and artistes, and romanticized by poetry and music, the gifts of creativity were many. The curve of the eyebrow, the charisma of lovely eyes and the wave of the fragrant hair ruled the enigmatic Bengal. Our own East Pakistan was lit up by the cultural magic of the land. Amongst those, a female of captivating eyes and a most sophisticated voice, Suchinda, cannot be forgotten due to her contribution to sensitive films like Pyasa. Suchinda showed in Pyasa that she was a much more finely tuned artiste for artistic movies, with better tone of delivery and a perfect pronunciation.

As against Shabnam, who was into dancing and singing from her childhood days, Suchinda was basically a coy family girl, fully engaged in her homely activities. She was hardly the type to be exposed to the chamak damak of any showbiz activity. But, sometimes, nature puts you in the middle of exactly that which you are trying to avoid desperately. In 1966, Subhash Dutta, who was an intellectual actor and director of Bengal, was making a film, when during a Script discussion at a friend’s house, he saw Suchinda, and asked if she would work for a film. Unfortunately, Suchinda’s family didn’t encourage the director. But, Subhash was making a family film in Bengali language and he wanted a girl like Suchinda, carrying that coy expression and that same grace he saw in the girl. So, he met the family again, and asked them to see the script. They were all educated people, and felt that their girl could do such a film, which was based on the basic ethics of family life. So, Suchinda was allowed to do the film, called Kagazar Nouka, where she took several takes to come out of her reluctance to do romantic scenes. She did averagely in this film, but got another movie the same year, called Aina Obo Shista, with the top artistes like Azim and Sujata, also by Subhash Dutta. The famous director had seen the spark in her and knew that it would only need a little persistence with her to bring out the best in her.

After four films in 1966, at least one thing was established about Suchinda, that she was glamorous enough to be considered film material, and she could always act a bit. In 1967, Suchinda was again amongst the films. But, the Urdu film makers had not noticed her until now. Finally, in 1968, Suchinda was cast in the second lead in a very adventurous and romantic film, Junglee Phool. Sultana Zaman and Khalil did the lead in the film, and Suchinda was the other woman. Her role was quite well done and she was elated at getting the publicity all across Pakistan. In film editions, her photographs were printed and she was congratulated by such famous artistes as Rehman and Azeem. Little did she know that Rehman had wished her luck due to a certain reason? He was looking for his heroine in his next film, which he was directing, called Jahan Bajey Shehnai. After watching her work in Junglee Phool, he cast her in the leading role, and she did nicely enough to make Rehman a believer in her talent. “You have lovely eyes,” he said romantically to her. “Why don’t you learn to use them?”

With Jahan Bajey Shehnai doing well all over East Pakistan, Suchinda was inundated with films. She did seven to eight films that year, and was then given the best film of her career, Pyasa. It was the great Nazr-ul-Islam, who had been convinced by Rehman that if he was intent upon making a film on a love triangle, in the very classy tradition of Mehboob’s Andaz, then Suchinda was the girl needed for this vital role. Nazr-ul-Islam was busy finalizing the other hero, and talked to Azeem at length about it. Actually, Azeem was equally senior as Rehman, and wanted as good a role as Rehman, but when the film was released, Azeem never had a chance against Rehman. But, Suchinda did brilliantly, and under Nazrul Islam’s guidance, she really learned to use her eyes in Pyasa. The last tragic scene of Pyasa is one of the best climaxes shot in the history of East Pakistan’s Urdu cinema. Both Rehman and Suchinda broke all records of expressive performance in that scene.

Suchinda, surprisingly, could not continue her supremacy, and remained limited to Bengali films after Pyasa. The reason was probably that with both Shabnam and Shabana exported to the West Pakistan, the film makers of Eastern wing made a united front that no more Bengali heroines will work for Urdu movies. Of course, after 1971, the debacle ended everything, what to talk of films and art! – Zulqarnain Shahid

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