Fatima Begum

Fatima Begum

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Fatima Begum

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Fatima Begum (1892–1983) was one of the early superstars in Indian cinema and India's first female film director.


Fatima Begum was born into an Urdu Muslim family in India in 1892. Fatima Begum was married to the Nawab of Sachin and was the mother of silent superstars like Zubeida, Sultana and Shehzadi. She was also the grandmother of Humayun Dhanrajgir, son of Zubeida and Maharaja Narsingir Dhanrajgir of Hyderabad. She began her career on the Urdu stage, shifted to films and debuted in Ardeshir Irani's silent film, Veer Abhimanyu (1922). In 1926, she established Fatima Films which later became known as Victoria-Fatima Films in 1928. She was an actress at Kohinoor Studios and Imperial Studios, while writing, directing, producing, and acting in her own films at Fatima Films. In 1926, when she directed Bulbul-e-Paristan, she became the first female director of Indian cinema. Leaning towards direction, Fatima continued acting till her last film in 1938, Duniya Kya Hai?. She died at the age of ninety-one but her legacy was carried on by her legendary actress of a daughter, Zubeida, whom besides being a silent film star, acted in India's first ever talkie, Alam Ara.

Fatima Begum was fair skinned and wore dark make-up that suited the sepia/black-and-white images on the screen. Most of the roles required wigs for the heroes as well as the heroines.

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