Zubeida

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Actress born in Surat as a Muslim princess, daughter of the Nawab of Sachin and Fatma Begum (later India’s first woman director). Started her career in silent films at Kohinoor at age 12. Early career was dominated by her beautiful sister Sultana, a better-known star in the 20s. Her second sister Shehzadi also became a teenage actress. Zubeida’s best-known silent work was for Manilal Joshi at the Kohinoor and Laxmi studios. Identified with courtesan roles in big Urdu, stage-derived costume pictures, a tradition extended by Meena Kumari. Developed the tragic dimension of her image in several of Naval Gandhi’s socials including the prestigious Tagore adaptation Balidan. Freelanced at the Ranjit and Sagar studios in her mother’s films: Bulbul-e-Paristan, Heer Ranjha, Milan Dinar. Set up Mahalakhsmi Cinetone (1934) with filmmaker Nanubhai Vaki. Retired at the height of her stardom in the late 30s, doing only a few films later on.

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