She worked alongside veteran actors such as Shahid, Nadeem, Waheed Murad, Ghulam Mohyedin, Muhammad Ali and even Sultan Rahi. One can say that Babra Sharif paved the way for the current generation of actress.
Her career kickstarted when she modeled for an advertisement for “jet” washing powder and became known as jet powder girl, but her true rise to stardom came from her debut on television on the PTV comedy classic Kiran Kahani.
The actress proved her worth during the 1970s by working relentlessly, doing countless supporting roles in flims such as Intezaar and the Neelo and Shahid starrer Mera Naa Patay Khan; but her most memorable role came in the super hit 1975 film Mera Naam Hai Mohabbat, directed by Shabab Kiranvi, which earned her Special Award from Nigar Awards. Babra Sharif continued to thrive through the 1980s as well and received two Nigar Awards for best actress, the second award due to her critically acclaimed performance in the 1982 film Sangdil.
In 1978, Babra Sharif got married to the film star Shahid, but the couple soon divorced after which she did not marry again. Following the divorce, she focused on her career and made many bold movies inspiring the women of her time. She’s been accorded by her peers as a complete professional never being late for a shoot or being casual about interviews. When she did something, she gave it her all. Her intelligence and glamour are what kept her relevant throughout the years and recently in 2019 she received the Sitara-i-Imtiaz for her contribution to Pakistani cinema.
Although Babra lost her stardom during the 1990s as the flims she did started to do poorly at the box-office and newer actresses appeared to take her place, she handled the situation with the poise and grace. Babra decided to quit acting, a tough decision but one she chose to make as she accepted that she no longer was the energetic diva who starred in Mera Naam Hai Mohabbat.
“I am self analytical. It is important to keep your feet on the ground in a profession where you are idolized to such an extent that each wish becomes a command for others. But I had always wanted to quit films at the peak of my career. I had prepared myself mentally for that moment. One of the reasons why I am at peace with myself is that I never socialized or made friends with the showbiz lot. Examples of actors like Waheed Murad made a deep impression on me. I never wanted to touch the peak of stardom only to drop low in life. No, life is more than lights, adulation and being beautiful,”.
Babra was a public favourite which led her to receive countless accolades even after her retirement such as the LUX beauty icon award in 2003. This was revolutionary as the title had not been awarded to anyone over 50 years of age before.
She has been an inspiration to countless women and actresses that came into the film industry following her footsteps but we wonder if anyone can ever measure up to the level that Babra achieved in just two decades.