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Suraiya (1929-2004)



The last of Hindi cinema’s illustrious singer-actresses, Suraiya set a tradition that remains unrivalled and that largely ended with her reign at the top. Her acting style was a charming blend of dialogues and gestures, and was strongly reminiscent of the Muslim feudal era.

Born in Lahore (now in Pakistan), Suraiya Jamal Sheikh began her career as a child artiste in Taj Mahal. Her musical talent was discovered by composer Naushad Ali, who got the 13-year-old to sing Panchhi jaa peechhe raha hain bachpan in the film Sharada. Her songs in such subsequent films as Sanjog and Station Master won critical acclaim. But it was the success of Hamari Baat that established her as a singer-actress.

Suraiya’s style was best suited to feudal melodramas and historicals, and she excelled in such films as Mirza Ghalib and Phool. In 1946 Mehboob Khan’s Anmol Ghadi was released, in which she held her own against Melody Queen Noorjehan. Impressed with her rich emotive voice, K.L. Saigal recommended Suraiya as a co-star for Tadbir. She did two more films with Saigal after that, Omar Khayyam and Parwana.

Suraiya’s career reached its peak in the late 1940s with a string of success such as Pyar Ki Jeet, Dillagi, and Badi Bahen. These films featured some of her most enduring songs: Who paas rahen ya door rahen, Tu mera chand main teri chandni, Tere naino ne chori kiya, and O door jaanewale. These years also saw Suraiya form a popular romantic team with Dev Anand; the two starred together in Jeet, Do Sitare, Afsar, Nili, Vidya, Sanam and Shair.

In 1954, Suraiya gave a memorable performance in Sohrab Modi’s Mirza Ghalib. The film also saw her render the classics Dil-e-nadaan tujhe hua kya hai, and Yeh na thi hamari kismat. She retired from films in the early 1960s, settling down to a solitary life in Mumbai – (Source :- Encyclopaedia of Hindi Cinema)

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  1. Her ever lasting songs can never be forgotten.

    Her voice was verily of God gifted. God always bless her.


  2. A legendary singer and actress – it is a pity that she retired and never acted again – though she could have shined in strong character roles. Blame it on bollywood and its fickledness

  3. She put on some weight as you can see her in her Last movie Rustaam Sohrab(1963) against Prithviraj Kapoor as her Hero. She acted earlier against Shammi Kapoor as her leading lady (Shama Parwana 1954) Starring: Suraiya, Shammi Kapoor, Kumari Naaz, Ulhas, Bibbi Bai, Renu Bala, Mubarak, Sunder, Roopmala. So she refused to take any more offeres. Later, Naushad tried to convince her to Sing for other acresses, but that too she refused. She stayed away from Bollywood parties and lime lights till her end. Almost all her family members died or moved back to Pakistan.

    She was very talented artist and her acting was very natural as well as her singing. RIP. Feel sorry about her affairs with DevAnand did not work out, and she remained single till the End. May be there are together there now. Ameen.

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