During the mid-forties the two faces which dominated the film world with their music were Suraiya and Noor Jehan.
Noorjehan left India after Partition so she became the Top Leading Singing Star of Bollywood.Both of them appeared together in that celebrated Mehboob’s musical Anmol Ghadi. Though overshadowed by Noor Jehan, it goes to her credit that Suraiya, even in a supporting role, was able to hold her own and make her presence felt with her evergreen melodies like “Socha tha kya, kya ho gaya” and “Man leta hai angrahi”.
Suraiya with her distinct individual style, her sweet seasoned voice and direct simple diction succeeded in captivating the listeners and her popularity knew no bounds.She had 3 box-office hits in quick succession were “Pyar ki Jeet” (1948), “Badi Behan” (1949) and “Dillagi” (1949).In her heyday she was known as 'Malika-e-Husn' (queen of beauty), 'Malika-e-Tarannum' (queen of melody) and 'Malika-e-Adakaari' (queen of acting), all rolled into one.
She was born on 15 June 1929.She was the only child of her parents.She received basic training in music when her mother used to take her to a Hindustani music teacher or 'Master ji' for training. She first sang for a children's program for All India Radio in 1937. Later on Naushad gave her on the job 'training', while recording. She went on to become one of the most successful singing film stars of Bollywood.
She made her debut as a child artist in Madam Fashion in 1936 as Miss Suraiya, along with Nargis as Baby Rani. The film was directed by Jaddan Bai, mother of Nargis, with Jaddan Bai herself as heroine,
As a child artist, she acted and also sang in Tamanna (1942), Station Master (1942), and Hamari Baat (1943). As an adult, Suraiya initially played as a heroine in K. Asif's Phool as Shama, with Prithviraj Kapoor as hero,and as a co-star in Mehboob Khan's Anmol Ghadi (1946), (which was written by Aghajani Kashmeri, also known as Kashmiri) and Dard (1947).
She acted as a heroine in the film Tadbir (1945) on the recommendation of K. L. Saigal, who liked her voice during a rehearsal of a song for Jayant Desai's film Samrat Chandragupt (1945) in which she was acting. He recommended her to Desai, opposite himself in Tadbir (1945). She went on to co-star with K. L. Saigal in Omar Khayyam (1946) and Parwana (1947 film).Suraiya appeared in scores of films, including at least 25 between 1946 and 1950, and at her peak was one of Bollywood’s highest-paid stars. She worked only a few films after 1952 and retired in 1963 at the age of 34.
She played the leading role with almost every famous star of her time and also sang with the leading playback singers like Mohammad Rafi, Talat Mehmood and Mukesh
The most striking and much-publicised episode of Suraiya’s life was her romance with the upcoming young actor Dev Anand in the early 1950s. It was then the ‘talk of the town’, the very stuff legends are made of. She was Dev Anand’s heroine in seven films which had moderate success . During the shooting of a film, a boat capsized and Dev Anand saved Suraiya from drowning. This incident was the beginning of their romance. Suraiya fell in love with him and both of them planned to get married but Suraiya’s grandmother opposed the relationship and persuaded her to turn down Dev’s marriage proposal. She chose to remain unmarried throughout her life and died a lonely woman on 31st January 2004.
Suraiya's Great Songs
The first recorded song of Manna De and Child Suraiya