The one-and-only Roohi Bano


Roohi Bano gave a certain style to heart-felt acting and created a niche for herself by richly contributing to Pakistani TV dramas of the 1970-1980s. This period is considered the golden era of artistic expression in Pakistan and the productions created during this time are widely considered vintage. Pakistani TV story is incomplete without the dramas created during this period and are still highly rated.

Roohi Bano was one the performers who was instrumental in taking drama performances to heights. She became part of the TV scene while pursuing a psychology degree at the Government College, Lahore and her appearance on a quiz competition led to a prolific TV career. She never looked back and her talent ensured that she remained part of TV set-up for over two decades. In the process she infused life in many characters and left her mark.

She became a widely admired part of TV dramas right from her start as a bumbling secretary in PTV Karachi centre’s early ’70s drama serial Kiran Kahani to Gharonday where she played a feisty and volatile brick kiln worker from south Punjab. Her innate talent enabled her to switch roles and portray every character with exuberance and panache. She actually excelled in role portraying the difficulties experienced by the women of Pakistan. Her growing stature as performer led her to appear in a few films such as Palki, Kainat and Goonj Uthi Shehnai but TV remained her forte.

She sparkled in all her roles and remained focused on sensitive portrayal of characters that are often neglected in Pakistani social milieu. Her talent was universally acclaimed and the sensitivity she brought to characters became so powerful that they are still emulated. It was often said about her that few could understand their characters as deeply as Roohi could. Her outstanding quality was that she acted by instinct and justified the belief that acting is an inborn talent and can only be acquired in terms of quantity and not quality. She was much closer to the school of acting that firmly based itself on realism. She belonged to the school of acting where the character was lived through the person of the actor. She never failed to convey the soul of a character to the wider audiences.

Despite being a widely proclaimed TV performer, in real life she was a troubled soul and her psychological inhibitions often troubled her performances while she forgot her lines and had to undergo several takes for her role in a play. Her personal life was aggravated as she had to endure two unsuccessful marriages. She actually suffered from schizophrenia that became severe later in life and it became very difficult to bring her out of her misery. She was treated for schizophrenia at Lahore’s Fountain House on and off during the final decade of her life.

The most troubling accident she ensured was the murder of her only son that completely destroyed her mental balance. She was staying with her sister in Istanbul when she passed away. TW

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