Shammi (actress)

Nargis Rabadi (24 April 1929 – 6 March 2018), better known by her stage name Shammi, was an Indian actress who appeared in over two hundred Hindi films. Shammi remained a sought-after actress with filmmakers when it came to goofy and comic roles,[1] especially in the period 1949–1969 and later from 1980–2002.[2][3] Her famous films as supporting actress included Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai, Half Ticket, Halaku, Samaj Ko Badal Dalo, Khuda Gawah, Coolie No. 1, Gopi Kishan and Hum Saath Saath Hain and films with Rajesh Khanna like The Train, Aanchal, Kudrat, Red Rose, Awara Baap and Swarg. She had been a leading actress playing main female lead or second female lead in Hindi films between 1949–1955 as well. Later, from 1986 till 1998, she appeared in many popular television serials such as Dekh Bhai Dekh, Zabaan Sambhal Ke, Shriman Shrimati, Kabhi Yeh Kabhi Woh and Filmi Chakkar. Shammi was married to film producer director Sultan Ahmed for seven years, before they were divorced.[4] Shammi is the younger sister of fashion designer Mani Rabadi.

Movie still from Halaku (1956) cropped on Shammi.jpg
Shammi in Halaku (1956)
Nargis Rabadi

(1929-04-24)24 April 1929
Died6 March 2018(2018-03-06) (aged 88)
Years active1949–2018
Sultan Ahmed
(m. 1973⁠–⁠1980)
RelativesMani J. Rabadi (sister)

Early lifeEdit

Rabadi was born in 1929 in Bombay, India. Her father was a priest in an agyari (Parsi fire temple) and died when she was around three years old. After her father's death, her mother used to cook food at all the religious functions organized by the Parsi community to earn money. Rabadi had an elder sister Mani Rabadi, who was a fashion designer and worked extensively with many actresses as their dress designer in Hindi films between 1967 and 1994.[5] Her mother's younger sister lived with her. They stayed in Tata Blocks in Parel, South Mumbai in 1930–47 period. Her sister joined Johnson and Johnson as a secretary after completing her secondary school education.

In 1942, Johnson and Johnson manufactured tablets and Rabadi was employed in the packing department. Her job was to collect the tablets that were not sealed in the tablet case, and had fallen off from the machine. She had to put them into big bottles which would go to hospitals for free distribution to patients. She was paid Rs 100 per month for doing this job.[6]


Shammi got into films by chance. A family friend was very friendly with actor and producer Sheikh Mukhtar. At that time, Mukhtar was looking for an actress for the second lead, in a film he was to start with Begum Para as the main female lead. He got her to meet Sheikh Mukhtar. Mukhtar was concerned about her Hindi-speaking skills as she was a Parsi. Shammi immediately told a worried Sheikh that she would be talking with him in Hindi and that he should point out any flaw if he was able to find any. Sheikh Mukhtar was impressed with her. The next day, she was called to Mahalaxmi studios for her screen test. She was advised by director Tara Harish to change her name to "Shammi" as there was another actress named Nargis in the industry. Her monthly salary was Rs 500. She was asked to sign a three-year contract with a condition that she couldn't work outside without their permission. She was just 18 when she signed for her first film, Ustad Pedro, in January 1949.[7] Ustad Pedro had Sheikh Mukhtar opposite Begum Para and Mukri as the comedian and it was directed by Tara Harish and this Begum Para-Sheikh Mukhtar starrer was a hit film at the box office in 1949.[8]

She had to attend the studio every day and practice acting even when she had no shoot. Shammi had to read dialogues of other films and Harish, the film's director taught her a lot of things since he was an actor himself. Harish was directing another film produced by Mukesh, called Malhar. Shammi was given the main lead in that film. Since the director was the same, Shammi was allowed to work outside the Sheikh Mukthar banner. She got good reviews for Malhar.[9] The movie's music was also a hit. 'Malhar' made Shammi a star. Shammi was financially stable now, so they shifted to Bandra. During the shooting of Malhar, she met Nargis Dutt through the latter's mother Jaddan bai. They became good friends. Nargis was one of her best friends and later, because of their friendship she got a supporting role in the film Miss India. She quoted in an interview "Nargis was the first actor to be paid Rs 1 lakh; even Dilip Kumar did not get that kind of money then. It was the talk of the industry. Actors like me who did supporting roles would get anything around Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000."

Her third film with Dilip Kumar and Madhubala, called Sangdil. The movie was released late in 1952 and was only a moderate success.[10] Since Sangdil was unpopular with audience, she did not get work for seven months. Shammi started off by playing the main lead or second lead in films, but after Sangdil, she had to accept whatever work came to her. She acted as a vamp in few such films. She quoted in an interview: "Many people scolded me when I did that but I was clear in my mind that I had to work. Sitting at home would not help me since I was the breadwinner of the family."[11] She got roles as the leading heroine opposite heroes such as Mahipal, Manhar Desai and Karan Dewan. After release of K. Asif's hit film Musafirkhana, she was flooded with similar roles. Her role opposite comedian Johnny Walker was appreciated in this film.[12]

Some of her successful movies as supporting actress in this period were Ilzam (1954), Pehli Jhalak (1955), Bandish (1955), Azaad (1955), Halaku (1956), Son of Sinbad (1955), Raj Tilak (1958), Khazanchi (1958), Ghar Sansar (1958), Aakhiri Dao (1958), Kangan (1959), Bhai-Bahen (1959) and Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai (1960). The rest of her films released from 1952 to 1960 were deemed as commercial failures. In the period 1962 to 1970, her comedy and vamp roles made an impact in successful films such as Half Ticket, Ishaara, Jab Jab Phool Khile, Preet Na Jane Reet, Aamne - Saamne, Upkar, Ittefaq, Sajan, Doli, Raja Saab and The Train.

In the early 1970s, she started being offered character roles, mostly playing mothers, in movies like Purab Aur Paschim and Adhikar. She won the BFJA Award as Best Supporting Actress for Samaj Ko Badal Dalo (1971).[13] She married an aspiring director named Sultan Ahmed. He used Shammi's connections in the industry to get work. Her friends like Rajesh Khanna, Sunil Dutt and Asha Parekh worked in films directed by Sultan Ahmed. Her husband's directorial ventures such as Heera (1973), Dharam Kanta, and Daata were successful. During this period, Shammi did not accept offers from other directors and due to this she started getting fewer offers to act in films. In hindsight, she admitted that that had been a mistake on her part.

Shammi suffered two miscarriages and there were no further pregnancies. So, she and Sultan Ahmed did not have any children. This created tension in their relationship. The couple had bought a house and her husband wanted to put the house in her name. Shammi was of the opinion that since her sister-in law did not have an income, Ahmed should put the house in his sister's name. Ahmed's brother in law's family also resided with them. Shammi was close to her brother-in-law's children and took care of them. After seven years of marriage, she separated from her husband in 1980. She walked out of the house without taking anything with her, including her car.[14][15] She returned to her old house where she stayed with her mother in Bandra. Nargis Dutt helped Shammi get a role in The Burning Train within eight days after Shammi had left her house. Her friend Rajesh Khanna helped her get small roles in films with him in the lead from 1980 such as Red Rose (film), Aanchal, Kudrat, Awara Baap and Swarg. These films got her noticed as a supporting actress and revived her career.

Encouraged by her recent successes, she decided to produce a film named Pighalta Aasman in 1985. Rajesh Khanna was going to act in the film, and he suggested the name of (Esmayeel Shroff) as the director. There was reportedly an altercation between Esmayeel and Khanna, after which Khanna walked out of the film. It had not gone on the floors then. Shammi had brought in a big actress, Raakhee, as Rajesh Khanna was starring in the film. The distributors were dissatisfied with Shammi as she had promised them Rajesh Khanna. She then approached Shashi Kapoor. On this topic, she quoted in an interview: "He (Shashi Kapoor) did not even ask me how much I was going to pay him. Everything fell in place. But the director sucked the life out of me. He fought with everyone on the sets. Ultimately, he was thrown out of the film before the dubbing was completed. I directed the film. The film bombed at the box office. I knew it would flop. I went into a big loss."[16]

To help her recover from the losses, Rajesh Khanna, who was producing television series then, helped Shammi get a few roles on TV shows.[17] She was getting paid well for her roles in both movies and TV shows, and this time she started saving money. Her performances in serials such as Dekh Bhai Dekh, Zabaan Sambhal Ke, Shriman Shrimati, Kabhi Yeh Kabhi Woh and Filmi Chakkar were appreciated.[18] She was very much in demand from 1990 to 2000, appearing in many successful films such as Coolie No 1, Hum, Mardon Wali Baat, Gurudev, Gopi Kishan, Hum Saath-Saath Hain and Imtihaan. Her portrayal of the role of a drug addict in Mahesh Bhatt's Lahu Ke Do Rang got her good reviews.[12] Movie offers, however, stopped coming to her after 2002 since she was getting older. She was rarely offered any roles from 2008 to 2011.

She made a comeback with Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi in 2013; as the director Bela Sehgal wanted her for the role of a Parsi woman.[19]


Shammi died in her sleep on 6 March 2018, aged 88. Before death, she had acted in over 200 films in her career.[20]


Year Title Role Language Notes
1949 Ustad Pedro Hindi
1951 Malhar Hindi
1952 Sangdil Mohini Hindi
1953 Aag Ka Dariya Meera Hindi
Khoj Hindi
Baaghi Hindi
1954 Sheeshe Ki Diwar Hindi
Roohi Hindi
Munna Hindi
Kasturi Hindi
Ilzam Hindi
Hukumat Hindi
1955 Shahi Mehman Hindi
Rukhsana Hindi
Pehli Jhalak Girja Hindi
Musafirkhana Mary Hindi
Lagan Hindi
Bandish Kavita Hindi
Azaad Janki Hindi
1956 Halaku Hindi
1960 Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai Sheila Hindi
1961 Khiladi Hindi
1962 Half ticket Lily
1968 Baazi Lucy Fernandes Hindi
1970 The Train Hindi Guest appearance
Mere Humsafar Suzie Hindi
Yaadgaar Sukhiya Hindi
Samaj Ko Badal Dalo Hindi
Purab Aur Paschim Rita Hindi
Darpan Lachchi Hindi
1971 Adhikar Rajan's mother Hindi
Purani Pehchan Hindi
1972 Ek Hasina Do Diwane Major's wife Hindi
Bandagi Hindi
Annadata Mrs. Anwar Hindi
1973 Jwaar Bhata Satwanti Hindi
Honeymoon Mrs. Ramakant Hindi
1974 Chhote Sarkar Hindi
1976 Lambhardhani Hindi
1978 Swarg Narak Shobha's mother Hindi
1979 Lahu Ke Do Rang Drug addict Hindi Guest appearance
Hum Tere Ashiq Hain Teacher Hindi
Maan Apmaan Mrs. Ramdas Hindi
1980 The Burning Train Passenger Hindi
Red Rose Roopsagar Clothing Stores Manager Hindi
Aanchal Chachi Hindi
Patita Miss Maria Hindi
Bombay 405 Miles Hindi Special appearance
1981 Kranti Bharat's foster mother Hindi
Chehre Pe Chehra Hindi
Kudrat Sarla Hindi
Prem Geet Gynaecologist Hindi
1982 Sarpanch Swaran Chanda's wife Punjabi
Angoor Mrs. Raj Tilak Hindi
Dil Akhir Dil Hai Psychiatrist Hindi
Khud-Daar Seema's mother Hindi
Arth Mrs. Bhalla Hindi
Do Dishayen Hindi
1983 Shubh Kaamna Grandmother Hindi
Nastik Rosie Hindi
Rachna Hindi
Sweekar Kiya Maine Mrs. Sharma Hindi
Yahan Se Shehar Ko Dekho Hindi
1984 Yaari Jatt Di Jeeta's mother Punjabi
Nimmo Karma's mother Punjabi
Jigri Yaar Jeeto Punjabi
Karishma Nisha's mother Hindi
Jawaani Hindi
1985 Tulsi Hindi
Tawaif Mrs. Nigam Hindi
Hum Dono Mrs. Mathura Das Hindi
Mohabbat Choudhary's mother Hindi
Ucha Dar Baba Nanak Da Gurdit's mother Punjabi
Jhoothi Shanti Hindi
Awara Baap Hindi
Patthar Dil Mrs. Chaurasia Hindi
Paisa Yeh Paisa Rosie Hindi
Kali Basti Mary P. Pereira Hindi
1986 Pahunche Hue Log Hindi
Preeti (1986 film) Hindi
Karma Dharma's aunt Hindi
Ek Chadar Maili Si Jelmi Hindi
Shingora Mausi TV movie
Baat Ban Jaye Prakash's neighbour Hindi
1987 Mera Lahoo Avanti Singh Hindi
Imaandaar Ameena Hindi
Insaaf Avinash's mother Hindi
Muqaddar Ka Faisla Hindi
Aulad Leela Hindi
1988 Akhri Muqabla Ganga Hindi
Mardon Wali Baat Chaila's mother Hindi
Kasam (1988 film) Bua Hindi
Rama O Rama Mary D'Souza Hindi
1989 Jurrat Joseph's mother Hindi
Vardi Customer Hindi
Eeshwar Eeshwar's grandmother Hindi
Anokha Aspatal Hindi
Shehzaade Zorawar's mother Hindi Uncredited role
Saaya Nurse Hindi
Mohabat Ka Paigham Chand Bibi Hindi
Gawaahi Betty Lobo Hindi
1990 Amavas Ki Raat Hindi
Maha-Sangram Mary Hindi
Agneepath Tara Bai Hindi
Swarg Kumar's mother Hindi uncredited
Dil Madhu's grandmother Hindi
Sailaab Yashoda Devi Hindi
Bahaar Aane Tak Vijay's mother Hindi
Qurbani Jatt Di Jagroop's mother Punjabi
1991 Trinetra Bantu Rani Hindi
Jeena Teri Gali Mein Hindi
Hum Aarti's mother Hindi
Farishtay Mausi Hindi
Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin Paris lady who gives lift Hindi
1992 Mehndi Shagna Di Sardarni Jagir Kaur Punjabi
Yudhpath Mrs. Choudhary Hindi
Saatwan Aasman Sujit's grandmother Hindi
Khuda Gawah[21] Khuda Baksh's mother Hindi
Honeymoon Maya Hindi
Ghar Jamai Hindi
1993 Shabnam Hindi
Pehla Nasha Deepak's landlady Hindi
Gurudev Hindi
Raunaq Hindi
Gunaah A woman who bought Singh's flat Hindi
Balmaa Hindi
1994 Imtihaan Orphanage manager Hindi
Chauraha Grandmother Hindi
Ulfat Ki Nayi Manzilen Hindi
Gopi Kishan Janki Hindi
Paramaatma Rudranarayan's wife Hindi
Cheetah Jessy Hindi
1995 Thumka Hindi
Policewala Gunda Hindi
Coolie No. 1 Mrs. Choudhary (Hoshiyarchand's mother) Hindi
Rangeela Gulbadan's mother Hindi
1996 Mr. Bechara Caretaker Hindi
1997 Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya Grandmother Hindi
Uff! Yeh Mohabbat Mrs. Usgaonkar Hindi
1999 Hum Saath-Saath Hain Durga Mausi Hindi
2000 Kunwara Mrs. Viswanath Prathap Singh Hindi
Tera Jadoo Chal Gaya Grandmother Hindi
2001 Hum Ho Gaye Aapke Aunty Hindi
Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke Rohit's grandmother Hindi
2002 Kyaa Dil Ne Kahaa Esha's grandmother Hindi
2002 Karz: The Burden of Truth Balwant Singh's mother Hindi
2005 Chalta Hai Yaar Hindi
2008 Khushboo Pinky's grandmother Hindi
2009 Accident on Hill Road Mrs. Wadia Hindi
2010 Sukhmani: Hope for Life Punjabi
2011 Khap Masterni Hindi
2012 Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi[19] Farhad's grandmother Hindi


Title Year Role Note Ref.
Idhar Udhar 1985 Mrs. Bregenza
Dekh Bhai Dekh 1993 Chhoti Nani
Filmi Chakkar Dadi [21]
Zabaan Sambhalke Mrs. Pinto [22]
Tehkikaat 1994 Twins Illusion (episode 10,11)
Shararat 2003 Rani Devi 2 Episodes


  1. ^ "Hindi cinema's other Shammi". The Indian Express. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  2. ^ "At 83, Shammi Aunty, hard of hearing, but frail". NDTV Movies. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  3. ^ "Acting is the only thing I know how to do: Shammi aunty". The Times of India. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  4. ^ "Rediff On The Net, Movies: An interview with Shammi, the heartthrob of the '50s".
  5. ^ "RIP Mani Rabadi".
  6. ^ "Meet the 'other' Shammi of Bollywood- Page 2". Rediff. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Meet the 'other' Shammi of Bollywood- Page 3". Rediff. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  8. ^ "Shammi... Aunty No.1 - Times of India".
  9. ^ "Meet the 'other' Shammi of Bollywood- Page 4". Rediff. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  10. ^ "Meet the 'other' Shammi of Bollywood- Page 5". Rediff. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  11. ^ "Meet the 'other' Shammi of Bollywood- Page 6". Rediff. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  12. ^ a b "An interview with Shammi, the heartthrobs from 50s". Rediff. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  13. ^ "Bengal Film Journalists Association". bfja awards. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  14. ^ "Meet the other Shammi of Bollywood". Rediff. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  15. ^ "The secret club of heroines from swinging '60s ..." Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  16. ^ "Meet the 'other' Shammi of Bollywood- Page 8". Rediff. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  17. ^ "Meet the 'other' Shammi of Bollywood- Page 9". Rediff. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  18. ^ "Hindi cinema's other 'Shammi'". The Indian Express. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  19. ^ a b "Meet the other "Shammi" of Bollywood- Page 10". Rediff. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  20. ^ "Veteran Actress Shammi, Dekh Bhai Dekh's Nani, Dies In Mumbai".
  21. ^ a b Kindon, Frances (6 March 2018). "Veteran Bollywood actress Shammi dies after 'long illness'". mirror.
  22. ^ "The cast of Filmi Chakkar: Where are they now?". 26 December 2019.

External linksEdit