From once a famous television actress to a forgotten old lady living in penury, Pranna Shangloo has experienced all shades of life. Nuzhat Mushtaq meets Kashmir’s first television actress to tell her story
Born in a Pandit family in 1952, Pranna did her schooling from Vasant School in Kral Khud area of Habba Kadal and later pursued her graduation in Arts from Women’s College M A Road, before joining theatre. “I was interested in acting since childhood. I used to perform in various shows organized in schools and colleges but once I grew up, I followed my dream of becoming an actress,” says Pranna.
Pranna started her career in acting from theatre as she performed different roles in various plays in Kashmir as well as outside. She believes that theatre plays an important role in shaping the skills of an actor. “Theatre artists have to perform in front of the live audience in single take, while television artists get many takes; that is the reason you find theatre artists’ gestures, body language more natural. You can say their performance has quality,” Pranna believes.
Pranna’s first theatrical performance was in a play titled Araam Haram Hai, a critically acclaimed show, in which her performance was highly appreciated.
Pranna believes that it was this show which changed her life and made her an actor. It took no time for next big break to come Pranna’s way. “I got a call from Radio Kashmir to play Sham Laal in one of its most famous shows: Zoon Dab. “
This was just the beginning for Pranna as best was yet to come. Within no time success in theatre and radio helped her get opportunities in television.
Pranna says, she performed in feature films Heera Lal Pana Lal, Baed Baav, Jyoti Baney Jawala and many more.
“Heera Lal Pana Lal is counted one of best feature films of my career. I played the role of Indira Ghandhi, the then prime minister of India, and was appreciated for the same, moreover, I got an opportunity to play the character of landlady in serial Katha Sagar with Bollywood actors Om Puri and Naseer-Ud-Din Shah,” says Pranna.
Pranna says that her parents were very supportive throughout, but things started getting complicated after marriage when her in-laws wanted her to quit acting. “A women working in television was looked down by the society at that time; it was unusually. Thankfully my husband made them understand that there is nothing wrong in it,” Pranna told Kashmir Life.
“During those days I was the one who worked as an actress but after some time Shaheena, Girja Koul and many more showed interest in acting and worked for Doordarshan,” she added.
With continuous success Prana never looked back and worked hard in radio, television as well as in theatre. She remembers one of the incidents in theatre when Afzal Beigh rewarded her with the cash prize of Rs 5000 in Tagore Hall. “My dialogue Sumu Srandrii in the mythological play made Afzal Sahab happy, he called me and said: ‘Did you used this dialog for me.’ But when I told him that it was the part of the play, he smiled and rewarded me in return,’ ” she says. Moreover, she says, Farooq Abdullah also rewarded her with the cash price of Rs 1000 after noticing my performance on television screen.
Pranna continued to work in the television even during 90s when the turmoil began in Valley and it went into its worst phase ever. The couple continued to live here but migrated from Kani kadal to Chadoora as they had a piece of land there, “The reason we stayed here was that my husband late Kidaar Nath Shangloo believed Pandits are the part of Kashmir and he always said: who will harm innocents. Apart from that, Muslim neighbours always stood up for us whenever we were having some problems,” she informs.
Pranna’s life was going with ease in Chadoora but once her husband Kidaar Nath retired from his service, their financial problems started. “It was the most difficult stage for us as my son was not earning nor was my husband having pension. I had to arrange everything for them. I hardly used to get shows to perform and the cheques provided by DD or Radio Kashmir didn’t get cash on proper time due to the non-availability of funds,” she says.
After her husband died in 2009, Prana felt alone. Her son moved outside Kashmir in order to earn livelihood and she believes that Kashmiri Pandits who didn’t migrated had to face the worst phase of turmoil.
“All those who stayed in valley spend their lives in poverty while those who migrated live luxurious lives. I don’t say all of them but majority do, they got special schemes,” she says, with wet eyes. “No one ever cared for us. We were left on the name of God. My son is still struggling hard to get a job, moreover, he was not given an election card.”
Pranna earns nearly Rs 1000 by teaching two girls at her home and she sometimes gets help from the people who know her.”I don’t get much roles now in the television or in radio,” she says.
Besides, she gets some money from the trust, as she used to visit Syed Yaqoob Sahab Shrine in Sonwar from my childhood, “and I will continue to visit there till I’m alive because my faith in them has always helped me to survive in my difficult times.”
The present director Doordarshan Srinagar, Shabir Mujahid when told about Pranna’s condition said, “I will do everything to help this great actress who has made us all proud with her performances.”