M A I N   N E W S

Suraiya is no more
I. Iyer

Mumbai, January 31
Heartthrob of yesteryear, Suraiya, who kept generations of cine-goers spellbound with her acting and singing, died here today after a brief illness, hospital sources said. She was 75.

Suraiya was admitted to Harkishandas Hospital in south Mumbai 15 days ago for various health problems, including loss of appetite, and general weakness.

The singing sensation, who sang evergreen numbers like “Nukta chi hai game dil” and “Ye na thi hamari kismat” in “Mirza Ghalib”, died at 9.25 am.

Suraiya’s notable films include “Afsar”, “Anmol Ghadi”, “Dillagi”, “Mirza Ghalib”, “Parwana”, “Pyar ki Jeet”, “Rustom Sohrab” and “Shama Parwana”.

The mortal remains of the legendary singing star, were laid to rest at Chandanwadi burial ground in central Mumbai. Her body was taken from her residence at Krishna Mahal to the burial ground with close friends, and family members attending the funeral. — PTI


Best-ever singing heroine
V. Gangadhar

In 1952, audiences at the packed Star Theatre in Fort Cochin clapped in rhythm as heroine Suraiya waltzed with hero Raj Kapoor to the melody “Tara ri, yara ri”. Later, the two gambolled about for another fast number “Dhadak dhadak dil dhadke...”. Raj Kapoor and Suraiya had been co-starred for the first time and the two songs were rare instances of music director Naushad opting for western tunes.

I admired Suraiya, her serene beauty and melodious singing, and wondered at the general air of mystery about her personal life. Debonair Dev Anand, who was in love with her, made six films with her and proposed to her. The then Chief Minister, Morarji Desai, told Dev Anand to give up the idea of marrying a Muslim woman because it could lead to communal riots in the city. Suraiya, living under the shadow of a strict and conservative grandmother, had to turn him down. She remained unmarried.

Suraiya quit films at her peak, when she was only 39. No character roles for her. She lived in a huge Marine Drive flat and occasionally attended filmland and private parties. Suraiya had put on weight, she was always overdressed with lots of makeup and overloaded with jewellery.

Her showbiz stint lasted for about 20 years. Beginning as a child playback singer, she was soon lured into films, achieving stardom with the 1946 blockbuster “Anmol Ghadi”. Her songs in the film, “Socha tha kya kya ho gaya” and “Awaaz dein kahan hain”, are hummed to this day. Suraiya developed special rapport with producer-director A.R. Kardar and made hit films with him, all starting with the letter “D” — “Dard”, “Dillagi”, “Dastaan” and “Deewana”.

Her peak arrived during 1948-50 when she starred in memorable hits like “Pyar ki Jeet”, “Badi Bahen” and “Dillagi”. Suraiya’s melodious voice was a bonus and put her far above her contemporaries — Nargis, Kamini Kaushal and Madhubala.

Rather unusual, Suraiya acted in just one film with Raj Kapoor and none with Dilip Kumar. With Dev Anand, she shared honours in six films. Despite the unhappy ending, they were the most popular romantic pair and shared an admiration for Hollywood star Gregory Peck. In an industry that found playback singers in demand, top music directors vied to work with her. Though never trained in classical music, Suraiya excelled in all kinds of songs, as discovered by music directors Husanlal Bhagatram, Naushad and S.D. Burman.

The 1950s did not begin well for Suraiyya, but she made it up with the successful “Mirza Ghalib” co-starring with Bharat Bhushan. The film, produced by Sohrab Modi, won the President’s gold medal and had golden hits like “Yeh na thi hamari kismat” and “Dil e nadan hua kya hain”. She had a memorable duet with playback singer-actor Talat Mehmood. Suraiya and music director Anil Biswas discovered each other in Nitin Bose’s “Waris”. The films which followed, “Shama”, “Maalik” and “Rustom Sohrab”, despite excellent music scores, did not click at the box office. Suraiya quit the silver screen in 1959 and disappeared from the public eye.

Was there ever a better singing heroine? I doubt.


PM condoles Suraiya’s death

New Delhi, January 31
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has said that actress-singer Suraiya, who passed away this morning, was “not only a good actress but a talented singer.”

In a condolence message, Mr Vajpayee said the legendary singer was endowed with a mellifluous voice.

In his condolence message, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Suraiya was one of the most popular singing superstars of the forties and her famous honey voice and rich songs will remain popular for all times to come.

Her contribution to the development of the Indian cinema will be remembered for long, he said. — UNI

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