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The lost tribe….

When movie making started, this kind were pretty much the norm worldwide. Actors who could sing. (Gender neutral statement)

With the advent of playback singing, sadly the singers would lend their voice to the faces on the screen who would just lipsync to the lines and had no specific need to be able to sing themselves. As a result the numbers of multifaceted performers dwindled rapidly.

She was born today in the same year as the Nightingale of India, Lata didi. Suraiya Jamal Shaikh, was better known mononymously. She entered the big, bad world of films as a child and started singing for herself from very early years.

She continued to be the rage and pretty much ruled the psyche, eyeballs and hearts of the moviegoers in India.

In her heyday, she was known as Malika-e-Husn (queen of beauty), Malika-e-Tarannum (queen of melody) and Malika-e-Adakari (queen of acting). Although not stunningly beautiful, her heavy lidded eyes had enough charm and hypnotism to sway a generation or two.

I liked her most in Mirza Ghalib, where she suffered the presence of a very wooden actor in the eponymous role. She looked , emoted and sang really soulfully in the movie.

This is another wonderful song from Badi Behen, where she acts as the older sister who sacrifices her happiness to save her wayward younger sibling, something of a wastrel who is seduced (& impregnated) by the omnipresent villain of the times, Pran.

Husnalal Bhagatram’s musical score well complemented by great lyrics from Qamar Jalalabadi who also contributed to the dialogues with Rajinder Singh Bedi.

Suraiya showed what true love is, by never considering getting married to another, after her family (a grandma) nixed her getting hitched to Dev Anand. He moved on, the eternal butterfly, she remained steadfast and devoted.

Here’s to you, lady, you are remembered and live on in our hearts and minds…. You would have been 92 today and your music and voice is as fresh as it was then.

Stay safe folks, stay healthy and away from the Chinese. Take the jab

By abchandorkar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Pune, India

5 replies on “The lost tribe….”

Suraiya took over the reigns of an actress with her singing & dancing talents, after departure of Noorjehan in 1947 & cut a wide swathe in the film world from the age of 13 to 34 when she suddenly quit filmdom at the height of her career much to the bewilderment of her fans & film magnates. Her acting in the film Mirza Ghalib (1954) was appreciated immensely & she rose to dizzy heights in her career spread over twenty years. She in all her modesty averred she was no true singer, a gross understatement if any. Except for some early songs for Mehtab, she sang for herself only as an actress in films from 1946-63. During the period 1948-50, she reigned as a super singing star & received the highest remuneration among all actors like Dilip Kumar, Nargis, Madhubala to name a few.
She debuted as a child artiste in 1942 (film Sharda) & within three years rose to become one of the top singing stars acting opposite the greatest legend KL Saigal in 3 films. Within the next three years both for her beauty & singing, she became a national craze.
Her adakari in films with Muslim background, such as Mirza Ghalib, Afsar, Shayar & a few more, was a fusion of modernity with tradition of the days & brought alive the feudal atmosphere to the scenes she enacted. While she reigned supreme in the field she was christened with titles for her singing, acting & dancing abilities. She could be called la hermosa fembra, a title conferred on Spanish beauties in the fifteenth century.
Husnlal-Bhagatram occupy a very important place in the history of film music as a bridge between the vintage & the golden era, between the theatre-style singing of Zohra Ambalewali, Zeenat Begum & Amirbai Karnataki, & the smooth, melodious singing of Suraiya & Latadidi, between GM Durrani & Rafisaab.
Badi Bahen (1949) was another feather in her cap with four solos out of the eight in the film. All the songs of Suraiya in the film are timeless in their appeal.

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So happy you too gave credit to her love being unique and not filmy… I simply bow down to this lady giant who could get anyone to marry her… at the drop of the hat👍 This is real love and speaks volumes of her singing talent too
As she was superbly genuine there too🙏🏽👍

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