By Harjap Singh Aujla
According to Wickipedia, actress Shyama was born in Punjab's capital city of Lahore in June 1935. But music director Sardul Kwatra claimed that Shyama was sixteen years old in 1949, that means she was born in 1933. When she was only twelve years old, her parents moved to Bombay, the film city and the capital of Bombay Presidency in 1945. From her childhood she had an inclination for acting and dancing. Her mother tongue was Punjabi and she never abandoned this language. Her first few roles were in Punjabi films. In 1948, she acted in Punjabi film “Chaman”. Then she acted in film “Bhaiya ji” (1950) and Mutiar (1950). both had music by Vinod and both became musically hit films.
In 1949, she came in contact with film producer Harcharan Singh Kwatra, a displaced enterpreneur frome Lahore and his younger brother music director Sardul Kwatra. Harcharan Singh Kwatra liked her command over Punjabi language and effortless flow in words and Sardul Singh Kwatra liked her extempore dancing skills and devotion to duty. The two brothers had just obtained requisite financing for their up coming Punjabi movie “Posti”. Entire cast of this film had come from Lahore. The hero of this movie was Amar Nath and the villain was Majnu, a Christian immigrant from Lahore.
Most songs of film “Posti” were picturised on heroine Shyama. Two of the hit songs of the film were “Ve mein kajle di paaniyan dhar” and “Nahin lagda dil”, both were sung by veteran singer Rajkumari. Popular playback singer Asha Bhosale made her film singing debut in film “Posti”, the song was “Maye meriye ni mainoo barha chaa, ki do guttan kar meriyan”. Asha Bhosale sang a duet also with iconic playback singer Mohammad Rafi, “Too peengh te main parchhawan, tere naal hulare khawan, laa lai dosti”. It became a superhit. Film “Posti” was a big commercial success” and Shyama became very popular as an actress. Her wit and elocution in Punjabi were par excellence.
The Kwatra brothers made another Punjabi film “Kaude Shah” in 1953. Once again Shyama was taken as the heroine. Its music composed by Sardul Kwatra became a hit and the film became commercialy successful. Shyama became a snake charmer's daughter and she fitted herself perfectly in that role. Some of the songs of film “Kaude Shah” have attained the status of classics. Shamshad Begum was its main playback singer. Some songs were sung by Talat Mahmood and Rajkumari too. In the same year film “Lara Lappa” was made and once again Shyama was the heroine and she excelled in her role.
In the meanwhile, Shyama was doing very well in Hindi films too. In 1957 a Punjabi story based Hindi film “Mirza Sahiban” was made by the Kwatra brothers. Shyama acted as the heroine opposite Shammi Kapoor. The film was commercially and musically hit and Shyama's career got a boost from this film. Subsequently Shyama started churning out hit after hit. Her last Punjabi film was “Vilayat Pass” in 1961. Her role was critically acclaimed, though the film did not do too well.
All lovers of the vintage Punjabi films are deeply saddened by the death of their beloved veteran actress Shyama on November 14, 2017. May God rest her soul in peace.