Noor Jehan

Noor Jehan’s career as a Pakistani singer and actress spanned for seven decades.  She was popularly known by her title: Malika-e-Tarannum. Her songs: Aawaz De Kahan Hai from Anmol Ghadi – 1946, Aaja Tujhe Afsana from Mirza Saheban – 1947 were among the many successful hits, she achieved as a singer. Noor Jehan’s daughter Zil-e-Huma, inherited her mother’s voice and talent in singing, and her father was a film-maker Syed Shaukat Hussain Rizvi. With the passing away of Zil-e-Huma, some of the resemblances she had with her legendary mother have gone away with the daughter.


Noor Jehan was born on 21st September 1926 in Kasur – (British India) into a Muslim family with a rich musical tradition.  At an early age, she was exposed to the world of show business and received training in classical singing under Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. He trained her in classical forms of thumri, dhrupad and khayal. Her first Hindi film was ‘Khandaan’ – which turned out to be a huge success.


After the partition of India, Noor Jehan established herself in Pakistan. The beginning years of the partition were difficult for her. She began building her career, gradually. In 1951, she appeared in the film Chan Wey. She was the director of this film along with her husband – Syed Shaukat Hussain Rizvi, and became the first female film director in Pakistan.


She recorded 10,000 songs in various languages in India and Pakistan – Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi & Pashto.


When Noor Jehan was a small girl her family moved to Calcutta (Kolkata) in the hope of developing the film career of her older sisters. It was here that Noor Jehan got the name of Baby Noor Jehan – her birth name was Allah Wasai. From 1935 onwards, Noor Jehan was acting and singing – along with her sisters.  


In 1939, renowned music director, Ghulam Haider began composing songs for Noor Jehan and that gave a big boost to Noor Jehan’s profile.


In 1942, she played the main lead, opposite Pran in Khandaan. It was her first role as an adult, and the film was a great success. This is the time Noor Jehan shifted to Bombay and married Rizvi.


In the later years of her marriage (1953 & 1954) Noor Jehan and Rizvi had problems and they got divorced. She kept custody of her three children, and in 1959 married Ejaz Durrani who was nine years younger to her. It was Durrani who suggested that she should quit films and give time to her singing. So by 1963, the actress bid farewell to cinema acting – after a span of 33 years. By now, she had six children to take care of, and the demands were telling upon her.

Noor Jehan took up playback singing. Her voice had a splendid range to go high and low. Lata Mangeshkar admired the singing talent of Noor Jehan. The Pakistani singer visited India in 1982 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Indian Talkie Movies, and this is where she met Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. She also met her other co-stars and erstwhile heroes, like Pran, Surendra, actress-Suraya and composer-Naushad.


By 1970, Noor Jehan had divorced Ejaz Durrani. From 1986, she was keeping indifferent health. On 23rd December 2000, she passed away. She is buried in Karachi-Pakistan.

Geeta Chhabra Comment Form
Form a link. Comment inside the box below. Your views will be published in a coming edition.