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Unforgettable Suraiya

, Kucch Yaaden...

> Unforgettable Suraiya, Kucch Yaaden...
post May 9 2007, 01:41 PM
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IT'S NOW 40 years since that unforgettable song "Yeh kaisi ajab dastaan ho gayee hai" from the film "Rustom-E-Sohrab" first hit the charts and yet, though I haven't even seen the film, I can recall the song clearly. It's a funny thing. Think of the legendary singers in Hindi films or of its heroines and Suraiya's name probably won't be among the first to pop into your head. And yet, mention her name, and suddenly the songs came tumbling out, the tunes and the lyrics as crystal clear as if you heard them just yesterday.
And as the songs play inside your head, you begin to see an unforgettable face; sultry yet sweet, the eyes heavy-lidded but not so much with seduction as the weight of girlish dreams and desires, waiting to be fulfilled; the mouth full, almost pouting but with a soft, untouched innocence. The face matches the voice reminding you of honey; sweet and heavy and golden but with the undertone of something incredibly lilting and light. And in this case, they both belonged to the same person. An occurrence so rare and so dazzling that in 1941, when the12-year old Suraiya Jamal Sheikh appeared and sang as the young Mumtaz Mahal in the film "Taj Mahal", her path to stardom was already being paved. Her debut as a singing heroine was two years later in 1943 in Bombay Talkies' "Hamari Baat" and the very next year, she had her first hit - K. Asif's "Phool" with the glorious music of Ghulam Haider and very soon Suraiya was the talk of the town. Her only competition at the time was the gorgeous Noor Jehan with whom Suraiya shared many things. They were both born in 1929, both had childhoods in or near Lahore and both had voices to match their lovely faces. And both were just 17, when they starred together in Mehboob Khan's "Anmol Ghadi" (1946). Suraiya, despite playing second lead to Noor Jehan who got the plum compositions from Naushad's baton like "Jawaan Hai Mohabbat, Aa Ja Meri Barbad Mohabbat ke Sahare" and "Mere Bachpan ke Saathi", held her own with the songs like evergreen "Socha Tha Kya, Kya ho gaya, Main Dil Mein Dard Basa La Aayee" and "Man Leta Hai".

........Many, many years ago, somewhere in a little town in coastal Karnataka, inside a darkened rickety tent that passed of as a theatre, two little girls sat riveted on the char-anna benches, mouths hanging open ever so slightly and eyes staring wide with mesmerised delight at a flickering screen where a heavy-lidded, doe-eyed, heroine dreamily warbled at the moon, titling her head this way and that to the music, as her white teeth peeping through her full lips caught the moonlight and her thick black glossy hair gleamed as langourously as her voice. The song was "Tu Mera Chand Mein Teri Chandini", the film "Dillagi".
Ah yes, the two little girls...
One of them was my mother, whose eyes a whole 54 years later still transform into the same happily shining ones of that little girl as she tells me about the magic called Suraiya.

Film - Dard
Lyrics - Shakeel Badayyuuni Sahab
MD - Naushad

Dil Dhadke Aankh Mori Phadke


Dil Shaad Tha Ke Phool Khilenge Bahaar Mein
Maaraa Gaya Garib Isee Aitbaar Mein
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