Saturday, July 22, 2017




 She was a Muslim and from Lahore who chose to stay back in India post Partition even when her friends and Co-singers like Noorjahaan and Khursheed moved to Pakistan. Like Manto , she was in Love with Bombay and its Openness. From singing , she moved to acting in Hindi films .

Born on 15th June , she had all the traits of a typical Gemini , her Zodiac sign. She was fiercely loyal friend, true ally and a sensitive lover . She was affectionate, highly talented and Artistic . She had prominently expressive and Beautiful eyes. And like a true Gemini ,she happened to be a little indecisive as well.
It is said that if a Gemini woman does not get the right life partner / Companion , she will spend her time alone unwilling to disturb others. And Suraiya proved it true.

Suraiya’s father owned a small furniture shop in Gujranwala Punjab  ( Now in Pakistan ) where from he moved to Lahore.   Suraiya was taken to Bombay on the request of her mother and maternal  and uncle.

In films she worked with stalwarts like K L Sehgal and also with the flamboyant Devanand . She did seven films with Devanand . And they came close and closer in real life during this period. Add to that, Dev saved her from Drowning while they were shooting for a movie. That built an ineffaceable trust in the man she was romancing with . This romance did not translate into a permanent union or marriage . She dropped the idea of marriage once for all . 

A deep crush on Gregory Peck resulted in an unusual meeting with this Hollywood star in 1954.Gregory Peck rang the doorbell of her marine drive house with a Bouquet of flowers one day. He was In Mumbai that time . He had also seen some Hindi films wherein Suraiya was in lead role . Amazed at this , Suraiya chatted for two hours with Gregory Peck that day. A dream come true and Life moved forward .

A feature film “ Mirza Ghalib “ brought her to the notice of Pandit Jawahar lal Nehru. Sohrab Modi got Sadat Hassan Manto’s original Story / Screen play polished from J K Nanda and Used services of Rajinder Singh Bedi as Dialogue writer. Manto had written the story for a film project that was shelved due to partition and some other issues . Suraiya acted as Ghalib’s Courtesan beloved Moti Begum and also sang some soulful Ghazals of Mirza Ghalib for this movie . It won many awards and also the coveted President’s Medal. After watching the screening of this film inside Rashtrpati Bhawan , Nehru said:

“ Rarely we see such feature films .I must give due credit to Mr Sohrab Mody for this project. I am equally Delighted to know the contribution of Suraiya Ji for this Film. She has really brought back Ghalib to life." 

Every Gazal that she sang for Mirza Ghalib broke all previous records of popularity .Some songs that Suraiya sang are still my favourite . I quote a few ..

(1) Dhadaktay dil ki Tamnaaaon Mera Pyaar ho Tum
(2) Yeh kaisi ajab Dastaan ho Gayi Hai
(3) Chup Chup Khade zaroor Koyee baat hai 
(4) Tum Mujh Ko Bhool Jaao 
(5) Mun Dheere Dheere Gaaye re Maloom Nahin Kyon
(6) Chali Pee Ke nagar Ab Kaahe ka dar morey Baanke balam Kotwaal
(7) Tu Mera Chaand me Teri Chandini 
(8) Voh Pass rahein Ya Door Rahein 
(9) Phir duniya ko yaad Rahega.

My Father would always talk about Badi Behan , Anmol -Ghadi and Dil Lagi as his faourite Suraiya films .

Suraiya sang more than 340 songs in her career spanning  20 years.Among male singers Suraiya sang maximum duets with  Mohd Rafi (24 Duets) and among female singers she sang maximum duets with Lata and Shamshad Begum (5 Duets each). She acted in more than 75 films.

Suraiya had a lonely end in a   Marine Drive flat after being admitted to a private Hospital for about three weeks .She owned  an orchard in Lonavala Hills  and a building   in Worli ( Mumbai ) that had some flats. 

She died without leaving a will for her property .

For quite sometime before her death, she had distanced herself from the world of Glitter and Glamour .

So Long so much on this Great artist.

( Autar Mota )
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