Bollywood Bids Goodbye To Its Favourite Aunty, Actor Shammi Passes Away At 89

Using her fantastic comic-timing, Shammi's character as Chhoti Nani in Dekh Bhai Dekh became one of the most popular characters in the show.

Bollywood lost its favourite aunt, Shammi, early on Tuesday morning, within a year of losing its favourite mum, Reema Lagoo. Though veteran actor Shammi belonged to different generation, she embodied the concept of the “fun aunt” long before it was actually a thing.

During the early years she played supporting parts in movies like Half Ticket, Jab Jab Phool Khile and Ittefaq. In the early 1970s, she took a temporary hiatus from her Bollywood career. Marrying director Sultan Ahmed, she put her career on hibernation till the day she walked out of her marriage in the year 1979. And then she started a second innings in films like The Burning Train, Kudrat and Swarg.

Eventually, became the go-to actor for part of fun-loving aunts thanks to films like Khuda Gawah, Coolie No. 1 and even Gopi Kishen. And even as she played similar characters in most of her films, she seemed fully enthusiastic in all of her roles.

Shammi even tried her hand at producing with Pighalta Aasmaan, which had a troubled production after lead actor Rajesh Khanna and director Esmayeel Shroff didn’t see eye to eye. Rajesh Khanna finally walked out of the film, and actor Shashi Kapoor agreed to replace him. “He didn’t even ask what I would pay him, he simply said aapki picture toh main zaroor karunga,” she recounted in an interview. The film eventually released in 1985 and bombed.

To get out of the huge debt that Pighalta Aasman left her in, she took on roles in TV and coincidentally did some of her best work in shows like Dekh Bhai Dekh, Filmy Chakkar and Zabaan Sambhaal Ke.  Mining laughs using her fantastic comic-timing, her character as Chhoti Nani in Dekh Bhai Dekh became one of the most popular characters from the show. She didn’t always play the ‘nicest’ elder in the films and the TV shows, but she was still adored by the audience.

She had a minor role in Sooraj Barjatya’s Hum Saath Saath Hai (1999), where she played a genial matriarch who is a treasure trove of memories.

After a hiatus of more than a decade, Shammi made a comeback of sorts in 2012. She played mother to Boman Irani in Bela Sehgal’s Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi.