Noor Jehan: Nation in sorrow
By Anis Shakur
Jaltay hain Armaan, mera dil rota hai
Qismat ka dastoor nirala
Aayee aisi mauj keh sahil choot gaya
Warna apni kashti kaun doobota hai
Qismat ka dastoor nirala
Kaun meray tootay dil ki faryaad sunay
Aaj meri taqdeer ka malik sota
Qismat ka dastoor nirala hota hai
Here is the six million dollar question:
Possibly where did Noor Jehan acquired that inexpressible 'dard' or 'souz o gudaaz' which enabled the renowned
composers of the Indo-Pak Subcontinent to create the magnificent masterpieces, to an extent that every alphabet of the lyrics,
which came out of her searing, impassioned vocals were enough to melt down even the most hard-hearted person?
In my honest opinion, this might be the answer:
'Noor Jehan's vocal timbre was simply out of the world.'
Moreover, it was her sweet and mellifluous voice, combined with the precise diction and her authority on
the Urdu vocabulary that led to the creation of the ever -green songs.
Noor Jehan: Actress and singer.
Noor Jehan: The supreme soprano
Noor Jehan: Malika-e-Tarannum
Noor Jehan: The melody Queen
Noor Jehan: singer of the century
Noor Jehan: The millennium singer
Noor Jehan: The most influential cultural ambassador of Pakistan
Noor Jehan: Pakistan's national songs tress
Noor Jehan: Tamgha-e-Imtiaz
Noor Jehan: Pride of Performance
Noor Jehan: A very special person
Noor Jehan: Voice of the century
The list goes on and on.
In fact, all superlatives like 'First', 'Only' 'Best' etc which are added to her name will never be considered enough
to encompass her enormous contribution to the cause of music in her glorious sixty year showbiz career.
Noor Jehan was born Allah Rakhi, in Kasur, on September 21, 1921, she had a flair for music as a five- year
old child. She took music lessons from Kajjan Bai, a famous Indian singer, who performed around 1920-1930.
Noor Jehan appeared in several movies as 'Baby Noor Jehan' starting from 'Sheila us pind di kurri (Punjabi
film: 1935), up until 1942, when film 'Khandaan' (Urdu) was released in which she played the lead actress for the first time.
From 1942 onwards, she was cast in several movies in India and later in Pakistan until 1959, when films
'Koel' and 'Neend' were released, starring Noor Jehan as heroine.
Noor Jehan always sang from the depth of her heart, she left behind a treasure trove of songs like:
'Baanwari chakori karey duniya say chori chori' (film: Anarkali, pictured on Noor Jehan)
'Chandni raatain ho chandni raatain:(film: Dopatta, pictured on Noor Jehan)
'Rim jhim rim jhim paray phooar':(film: Koel, pictured on Noor Jehan)
'Gaaye gee duniya geet meray': (film: Mauseeqar,
pictured on Sabiha Khanum)
'Aye musawwir teri tasweer udhuri hai abhi: (pictured on Shamim Ara)
Following numbers are an all-too-true assessment of the highly adored Noor Jehan:
'Bari mushkil say hua tera mera saath piya': (film: Lakhon mein aik: Pictured on Shamim Ara)
'Chtthi zara sayyan jee kay naam likh dey' (film: Dosti: pictured on Shabnam)
'Sunn pagli pawan, sunn urti ghata' (film: Salam-e-mohabbat: Pictured on Zeba)
Noor Jehan alone was needed for such songs:
'Tumhara pyar na milta tou mar gaye hotay' (film: 'Aurat ik paheli': pictured on Zeba)
'Abhi dhoond he rahi theen': (film:Bay wafa: picturised on Shamim Ara)
'Salam-e-mohabbat bara khoobsurat': (film:Salam-e-mohabbat, pictured on Zeba)
Great still were these mega hit numbers:
'Meri zindigi hai naghma meri zindizi tarana'(film: Saalgira, pictured on Shamim Ara)
'Ye ghar mera gulshan hai' (film: Baharo phool barsao', pictured on Rani)
'Baanwara munn aisay dharka na tha '(film: Mohabbat, pictured on Zeba)
The pathos in her voice was most conducive for the tragic films, which the moviegoers in the Indo-pak subcontinent
simply loved in the not-so-distant past:
'O bay wafa mein nay tujh say pyar kyon kiya'(film: 'Koel ',pictured on Noor Jehan)
'O janay walay ray tehro zara ruk jao': (film: Intizar, pictured on Noor Jehan)
'Gham kay liye hain':(film: Adalat, picturised on Zeba)
'Dil ka diya jalaya' (The film 'Koel', pictured on Noor Jehan)
Likewise, the scope for expanding the more lyrical sphere were enhanced with songs like:
'Tu jahan kaheen bhi jaa ye'(film:Insaan aur Aadmi ,pictured on Zeba)
'Ye mera Aashiyaan mera ghar meri
jannat' (film: Mera ghar meri jannat, pictured on Sabiha Khanum)
'Kuchh loag root kar bhi' (film: Andaleeb, pictured on Shabnam)
Noor Jehan was very particular with sad songs, which she always recorded with rare passion and feeling:
Jaltay hain Armaan mera dil rota hai: (film:Anarkali, pictured on Noor Jehan)
'Chalo achha hua tum bhool gaye': (film: Lakhon mein aik, pictured on Shamim Ara)
'Na janay kaisa safar hai mera'(film:Banjaran, pictured on Neelo)
The characteristic vibrato in her voice enthralled millions in the melancholy strains of:
'Taqdeer ki gardish pay na ro' (film: Bahu Rani, pictured on Zeba)
'O ray sanam dil kaisay bataye'(film:Tauba, pictured on Zeba)
'Zamanay ki nazroan mein, mein bay wafa hoon'(film: Insaan aur Aadmi, pictured on Zeba)
Noor Jehan's songs still rank among the all-time favorite of music lovers the world over:
'Laga hai misar ka bazaar deikho' (film: Tehzeeb, pictured on Rani)
'Khuda karay kay mohabbat mein' (film: Afshan, pictured on Shabnam)
'Ye waadiyaan ye parbatoan ki shahzadiyaan'(film: Dosti, pictured on Shabnam)
Noor Jehan's duets are reckoned by a vast majority of listeners as the best songs ever recorded in the annals
of playback singing. Just think of the spell she cast through these duets:
'Mohabbat mein teray sar ki Qasam' (film:Aisa bhi hota hai: Noor Jehan-Ahmed Rushdi)
'Meray dil ki mehfil saja dey nay walay' (film: Andaleeb: Noor Jehan-Ahmed Rushdi)
'Aap ko bhool jaain hum'(film: Tum milay pyar mila:Noor Jehan-Mehdi Hasan)
Noor Jehan continues to live through her immortal renditions like:
'Lay Aayeen phir kahan par' (film:Saalgira, pictured on Shamim Ara)
'Dukha ye dil jo kisi ka'(film: Adalat, pictured on Zeba)
'Tum zindigi ko gham ka fasana bana gaye: (film:Dopatta, pictured on Noor Jehan)
Noor Jehan's recordings outs her in a category all her own, above all others in her field:
'Pyar kar kay hum bohuth pushtaye' (film: Andaleeb, pictured on Shabnam)
'Izhar bhi mushkil hai'(film: Anjuman, picturised on Rani)
'Jo bacha tha wo lutanay kay liye Aaye hain' (film: Umrao Jaan Ada, pictured on Rani)
The awesome power of this great artist and her charismatic voice really hit home:
'Mujh say pehli see mohabbat meray mehboob na maang' (Ghazal:Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the film 'Qaidi', pictured
on Shamim Ara)
Noor Jehan, the perennial favorite of music fans came to the Pakistani cinema with the essence of music
'Aaj hai mehfil geet kay qabil' (film :Shama aur parwana, pictured on Shabnam)
As the voice behind such powerful films as 'Anarkali', 'Dopatta', 'Koel' etc she became the necessity of
all the composers.
Noor Jehan was more than just a singer to the audience. She was the embodiment of soul and passion in music:
'Sayoni mera mahi' (film: Mastana mahi, pictured on Aaliya)
The spirit of the great singer lives on in the next generation:
'Har lehza hai momin ki nai shan nai Aan' (not recorded for film)
Here are two songs that also serve to showcase her amazing vocal agility:
'Ja, ja, ray ja, ja ray ja mein tou say naahi boloon'(film, 'Mauseqar', pictured on Sabiha)
'Sunn saajna dukhi munn tujh ko pukaray' (film:Lakhon mein aik, pictured on Shamim Ara)
Doubtlessly, Noor Jehan was a singer of power and ecstasy:
'Chanda ray chanda kuchh tu he bata mera afsana' (film:Baharo phool barsao, pictured on Rani)
Truly was Noor Jehan's a charismatic voice, hence she was extra special for all composers:
'Sada hoon apnay pyar ki'(film: 'Anarkali', pictured on Noor Jehan)
With her impeccable urdu pronunciation, Noor Jehan went on to achieve the stature of the greatest singing
icon, for whom the lyricists and composers were eager to write and compose.
They knew her lips possessed that rare gift of further refining their composition.
Pakistani public would want to hear none other, once Noor Jehan cast her vocal sway.
Her well-bred voice had a natural treble which was her hall- mark and which brought recognition to actresses
like shamim Ara, Zeba, Rani, Sabiha Khanum, Nisho, Aaliya and many others, who had given lip movement for Noor
Jehan's songs, which remain peerless to this day.
Further, Noor Jehan goes down in the history of the subcontinent music as the only singer few could imitate.
It was the sheer innocence of those earlier movies and her elegant simplicity, which brought laurels to
her at such a tender age.
Recall the enormous impact she made with a song, which is a resounding tribute to our brave armed forces:
'Aye watan kay sajeelay jawano meray naghmay tumharay liye hain'
Poetry was undoubtedly integral to the music that Noor Jehan made and it was this intrinsic poetic content
in her vocalizing that elevated a mere film song in her crooning custody, to a near art form:
'Jis din say piya par dase gaye'(film: Intizaar, pictured on Noor Jehan)
Furthermore, the eternal romantic was also Noor Jehan. Every word of the song came from the profundity of
'Dase paraye janay walay' (film:Daman aur chingari, pictured on Zeba)
Following is an instance of the vibrancy of Noor Jehan's presentation, reflecting the sentimentality of
'Bas gaya tu sautaniya kay dwar sajna' (film: Dosti, pictured on Shabnam)
Legends like Noor Jehan are not born daily and when they cross over, they can never be replaced.
On Saturday afternoon, December 23, 2000, when Noor Jehan passed over, not only was the nation's greatest
female voice in music was silenced, but her death also robbed the world of one of its finest voices and a great exponent in
Noor Jehan left behind her voice, her music and this message to the posterity:
'Ga ye gee duniya geet meray
ung mein niralay rang mein
Bharay hain armaano mein'