Suraiya was the last prominent singer-actor to play the dual position in cinema until the playback singers took over in the late 1940s. Her career began as a young performer and peaked in 1950. Her soul-stirring singing continues to remind music fans of her voice more than a half-century later.
In her prime, she was a superstar and the top artist of her era. She had the distinct honour of co-starring in three consecutive films with K L Saigal, the famed vocalist and celebrity of the day. Suraiya is reported to have landed a role as a heroine in the 1945 film Tadbiron the advice of Saigal, who was struck by her singing during rehearsals.
On the special occasion of her birthday, let us look at some lesser-known facts about Suraiya:
Journey to Fame
Suraiya Jamal Sheikh was born in Lahore on June 15, 1929, and moved to Mumbai as a kid to stay with her uncle Zahoor of the Bhati gate group, who worked for Kardar Films. She started her career as a kid performer on All India Radio’s children’s show. Her 1st movie role was as a child star in Taj Mahal(1941).
However, it was Naushad, the forthcoming music director of the time, who uncovered her vocal ability and made her sing the widely known melody, Panchhi Jaaas playback for Mehtabin the film Sharda.
Suraiya was the sole singing talent who remained in India after the partition, whereas Noor Jehan and Khushid went to Pakistan. That is how her spectacular ascent to stardom occurred between 1947 and 1950. Despite the introduction of playback systems, Suraiya’s particular style, honey seasoned voice, and straightforward plain language excelled in engaging audiences, and her fame knew no boundaries.
Biggest Box-Office Hits
Her biggest box-office hits were Pyar ki Jeet, Badi Behan,and Dillagi.Husanlal Bhagatram composed the music for the first two films, while Naushad, her first instructor, composed the soundtrack for Dillagi. We can still hear old music enthusiasts humming the timeless tunes from these flicks. Suraiya’s hat-trick achievement in 1948-49 catapulted her to the top of the cinematic world.
In a professional manner, her performances were distinguished by elegance and grace, and she sang from the depths of passion and tenderness in her heart and soul. She faced no competition from any other playback vocalist at the time.