She was the heart-throb of the nation in the 40s and early 50s. In a career spanning over 20 years, Suraiya acted in about 65 films and sang close to 350 songs. She lived like a star all her life. She did not turn to playback singing past her prime age nor she switched to character roles. Her beauty coupled with melodious voice captivated the hearts of generations of movie and music lovers.
There was a time when traffic jams at Marine Drive (Mumbai) were caused not due to a long line of cars, but because of a young charismatic actress - Suraiya.
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.
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 'Masterji' 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 heroin
,Her first song as a child-singer was "Boot karun main polish babu" (as a playback singer) in the film Nai Duniya (1942), composed by Naushad. Suraiya sang as a child playback singer for actress Mehtab in Sharda (1942), Kanoon (1943) and Sanjog (1943), with Naushad as the music director.
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.
Her swan song is supposed to be “Yeh kaisi ajab dastaan ho gayi hai” composed by Sajjad Husain for the film Rustom Sohrab (1963).
Rustom Sohrab (1963) was her last film.
The film Anmol Ghadi was a major milestone in Suraiya’s career as she got to work with another mega singing star Noor Jehan in this film.The film was musical hit and still remembered for its music by Naushad.She played the second lead and had three solos to her credit.All the three songs became popular,the two songs Main dil mein and Mann leta hain angdaai are happy songs and the third song"Sochaa thaa kya, kyaa ho gayaa" was a sad song.
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
After her mother's death in 1987, Suraiya started feeling lonely in her rented apartment (owned by Aswin Shah) in Krishna Mahal, Marine Drive in Mumbai, where she lived from the early 1940s until her death in 2004 at the age of 74.
The first recorded song of Manna De and Child Suraiya