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2017 was a year where major actors from Pakistani Television debuted in Bollywood. It witnessed the much talked about debut of Mahira Khan in Raees followed by Saba Qamar in Hindi Medium, and then came Adnan Siddiqui and Sajal Ali in Mom. The extremely talented Saba Qamar has managed to get nominated in the Best Actress category which was announced earlier this week. Many Indian critics have highlighed how unfair Filmfare Best Actor nominations are because surprisingly the supremely talented Raj Kumar Rao is completely sidelined, despite credible releases like Trapped and Newton.

Pakistani talent brimming in the Indian film industry may sound like a  recent phenomenon but this exchange started decades ago. If the footsteps of Pakistani talent across the border is traced, one comes across names like Mohammad Ali, Zeba, Talat Hussain, Humayun Saeed, Moammar Rana, Sana, Meera and Veena Malik, who, at one point in their careers, tried to taste the salt of the Bollywood sea but were not successful. On the other hand, there are names like Saba Qamar, Mahira Khan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar and Fawad Khan who cracked the code and made quite a mark in the competitive play-field of Bollywood.

As Filmfare Awards 2018 are going to start in a few hours from now, we dig into the archives and track the many Pakistani artists who brought the coveted trophy home, or were nominated in the main categories. Surprisingly most of the winners (and nominees) won big in their respective debut year.

Nazia Hassan


Feroze Khan spotted a barely fourteen Nazia Hassan at a party in London where he advised her to have an audition with Biddu for a song in his 1980’s superhit Qurbani.  The original pop diva of Pakistan took India by storm when she sang the club anthem Aap Jaisa Koi, which still gets our feet tapping. Nazia’s magical voice won her the Filmfare Award for the Best Singer –Female in 1981 and then the rest is history. Interestingly, Nazia still holds the record for the youngest winner of the Filmfare Award, in the singers category, to date.

Two years later, she received another nomination for the song Boom Boom from the film Star starring Kumar Gaurav, but she lost this to another aspiring Pakistani in Bollywood. Any guesses who?

Salma Agha


It was Salma Agha who won for the melancholic ‘Dil Ke Arman’ from film Nikaah that year. Agha created sorts of history in 1982 as three of her songs received nominations in the Best Singer category (Fazaa bhi hai Jawaan & Dil Ki yeh Arzoo). This blue-eyed beauty was touted to be one of the most gorgeous discoveries of B.R Chopra (the elder brother of Yash Chopra) of that time. Besides winning the award for the best singer, Salma Agha was also a strong contestant in the Best Actress category for her debut film Nikaah.  Sadly, she lost that to Padmini Kolhapure who won that year for her role of a child-widow in Prem Rog. She received another Filmfare nomination in best singer category for the song Jhoom Jhoom Baba from Qasam Paida Karne Wale Ki.


Zeba Bakhtiar


Though Zeba did not win the black trophy, she did create quite an impact in her debut film Henna, for which she received the Filmfare Best Actress nomination. Henna was one of the most passionate projects by Raj Kapoor, who died during the making of this film, and was later captained by his son Randhir Kapoor. Though Zeba’s career did not see another high after Henna, she went on to reserve her place as the last RK’s heroine, a status revered by many. The biggest blockbuster of 2015, Bajrangi Bhaijaan was loosely based on the same plot as Henna.


Rahat Fateh Ali Khan


Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, was the third Pakistani to receive the Filmfare Award in the Best Singer category, but after a gap of 3 decades (after Salma Agha).

He was first nominated in 2010 for his song Aaj Din Charya from Love Aaj Kal but he won his award in 2011 for  Dil toh bacha hai ji from Ishqiya. That year, Rahat was also nominated for song Sajda from My Name Is Khan. Pakistani singer, Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan also made it to the list of nominations for Bin Tere from I Hate Luv Stories. Rahat made it to the list again for his song Teri Meri from Bodyguard in 2012.

Fawad Khan

New Year

It takes an actor like Fawad Khan to bring the coveted Filmfare trophy to Pakistan. Fawad was the first Pakistani in 60 years of Filmfare history to win in the Best Actor’s category (Debut), as all other names mentioned above won in the singer’s category. His old world charm and unmatchable charisma set him apart in Bollywood and he became an overnight sensation with his debut film Khoobsurat, opposite Sonam Kapoor. His acting abilities and popularity across the border won him the Filmfare Best Debut Male in 2015. The decision took the industry by surprise as Tiger Shroff had been winning in this category at other ceremonies. Fawad also happens to be the only Pakistani to grace the solo cover of the Filmfare Magazine which read ‘The Cross Border Turk – who is giving our heroes sleepless nights.’

Saba Qamar

Veteren actresses Sridevi and Vidya Balan, who are also nominated this year in the same category for Mom and Tumhari Sulu, will give tough competition to our girl; but then having bagged a nomination against these stalwarts is an award in itself. Now all eyes are on Saba to see if she manages to increase the Filmfare stock-count in Pakistan. Good Luck!