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Why Did Zeba Bakhtiar Fail in Bollywood?

The reason is very simple.

While Pakistani actors like Salma Agha, Somy Ali, Fawad Khan, etc blew up in Bollywood, there are also many artists who didn’t. Acting veteran Zeba Bakhtiar is an example.

So how come this pretty and talented actress couldn’t make her mark in Bollywood? Let’s find out.

The actress got her Bollywood break with Henna, a Raj Kapoor passion project.


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This passion project was an Indo-Pak love story where an Indian boy drifts into Pakistan and falls in love with a Pakistani girl. Raj Kapoor went all method actor with the visualization of the story. Because of this, he was adamant about casting a Pakistani girl for the part.

The first choice for the movie was singer Nazia Hassan. Despite being very close to Nazia’s family, the Awara actor couldn’t get her interested in the project despite his insistence.

Zeba Bakhtiar - Henna
Rishi Kapoor and Zeba Bakhtiar in Henna (1991)

Later, it was Zeba Bakhtiar who ended up making the cast opposite Rishi Kapoor. Before the Anari actor could shoot his dream project, he passed away, leading the film to be shelved. The project was left in the hands of his elder son Randhir Kapoor.


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Rumor has it that Zeba gave Randhir a hard time during the filming. Turns out her work ethic was not up to par.

“She would disappear for long periods. Any time she felt like going back home to Pakistan, she did just that, without caring about the disrupted schedules, etc. On top of her erratic work methods, she was also a very limited actress. Randhir Kapoor somehow managed to complete the film. But he never directed another film again.”

After Henna finally hit theaters in 1991, Zeba only bagged three other films. One of those films Nargis was never released. Meanwhile, Stuntman and Jai Vikranta were not hits like Henna.

via Masala

Written by Ummara Sheraz

Entertainment & culture writer at ProPakistani/Lens. Occasionally dabbles in other news.


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