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Suraiya Jamaal Sheikh (15 June 1929 – 31 January 2004), popularly known as Suraiya, was an Indian Punjabi Muslim[6][7] Hindi/Hindustani film actress and playback singer in Bollywood from the 1940s to the early 1960s, who remained unmarried throughout her life, after her love affair with actor Dev Anand was aborted by her maternal grandmother. She was the most popular singing star of the Indian sub-continent of her generation. Until 1943, as a child singer, Suraiya did playback singing for one actress, namely Mehtab, in three films, and also in some of her own films for her roles as a child artiste. After this, she only sang for her own films as an actress, and acted as a heroine from 1946 until the end of her career in 1963. From 1948 to 1951, she became the singing superstar of Bollywood, earning more for her performances than each the performing actors of the times, male or female, including Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Nargis and Madhubala. She received 1.5–2 lakhs rupees for her role per film, when top male actors were getting fifty thousand to one lakh rupees. For a song, she commanded rupees 1000, while Lata Mangeshkar was getting rupees 100–200 per song.[8] She was the only child of her parents. She had a natural talent for singing, acting and dancing from childhood. 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 had received training in dancing from Mumtaz Ali, dancer-actor and father of the famous comedian Mehmood.[9] She was also known for her North Indian Muslim feudal style acting or 'adakari' in many of her films (Mirza Ghalib (film), Phool, Afsar, Shayar, Jeet (1949 film), Anmol Ghadi and Dastan).[10] This style 'endowed modernity with an aura of tradition' and brought nostalgic feudal tinge to the scenes. Her performance 'expertly integrated gestures, music and speech'.[10] Suraiya in her heyday 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. In a career spanning from 1936 till 1963, Suraiya sang 338 songs in films (which were mostly her own films) and 2 in addition were non-film songs, namely, 'tum rahe kahan ko piya' and 'hum tum karenge pyar'. She acted in 67 movies, which do not include the incomplete films such as Jaanwar (with Dilip Kumar), Paagal Khaana with Bharat Bhushan and an Indo-British film on Wajid Ali Shah (1953) being directed by British director, Herbert Marshall, with Ashok Kumar in the role of Wajid Ali Shah.[11][12]

Malika-e-Tarranum (Queen of Melody) [1][2][3][4]
Suraiya in 1946 film Gajre.jpg
Suraiya in 1946 film Gajre
Native name Suraiya Jamaal Sheikh
Pronunciation Su-rai-yaa
Born (1929-06-15)15 June 1929
Gujranwala, Punjab, British India
(now in Punjab, Pakistan)
Died 31 January 2004(2004-01-31) (aged 74)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Burial place Bara Kabaristan, Marine Lines, Mumbai
Residence Krishna Mahal, Marine Drive, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Nationality Indian
Other names Baby Suraiya (early films)
Citizenship Indian
Education High School
Alma mater J.B. Petit High School for Girls, Fort, Mumbai
Occupation Actress and playback singer in her own films (in Bollywood)
Years active 1936–1963
Era pre-Golden era and Golden era of Bollywood music and films
Known for Bollywood films and songs
Notable work Films like Dillagi, Pyar Ki Jeet, Badi Behan, Dastan, Mirza Ghalib, Waris and multiple songs, which were hits in their times.
Style Acting - Romantic, tragic, heroine oriented films; Dancing - Indian classical, Western, Mughal style; Singing - ghazal, light romantic, sad with pathos.
Home town Mumbai
Height 5 ft 4 in (1.63 m)[5]
Weight about 55 kg(1950)
Spouse(s) unmarried
  • Aziz Jamal Sheikh (father)
  • Mumtaz Begum (mother)
Awards (1) Gold Medal for film Kajal(1948) (2) President's Gold Medal for film Mirza Ghalib (1955) (3) Screen Videocon Lifetime Achievement Award (1996) (4) Urdu Academy (Delhi) and Sahitya Academy Award (1998) for perpetuating Mirza Ghalib's memory (5) Bimal Roy Memorial Trophy (1999) (6) Dadasaheb Phalke Award (2003) (7) Voted as the Best on screen beauty with the most ethnic look in 100 years sponsored by the Indian Film Academy (2013) (posthumously) (8) 'Suraiya' stamp of Rs. 5/- issued by India Post in her name (2013) (posthumously)
Suraiya signature1.jpeg
Love interest - Dev Anand (They fell in love in 1948, while shooting for the film Vidya. Dev Anand proposed to her in 1950, during the shooting of the film Afsar, yet she did not marry him because of her family's resistance. In 1951 she told Dev Anand to forget her. She remained a lifelong spinster.)


Early lifeEdit

Suraiya as a child of six years in 1935

Suraiya[13] was born in Gujranwala, Punjab (British India) (now in Pakistan) in a Muslim family to Mumtaz Begum and Aziz Jamaal Sheikh, who owned a furniture shop in Gujranwala.[14][15] Soon, her father moved to Lahore, and Suraiya[16] was taken by her mother, Mumtaz Begum,[17][18] and maternal grandmother, Badshah Begum[19] to Bombay in the early 1930s, when she was one year old. Her maternal uncle, named Zahoor (also known as M. Zahoor) also came to Bombay and became a well known villain in films.[20] Suraiya's father later came to live with her and he died on the day of 'Holi' in March 1963.[21][22] She attended New High School, now known as J.B. Petit High School for Girls in Fort, Mumbai. Later, from 1942 onwards, when she started singing for films as a 12 year old, her school principal Miss P.F. Patuck told her father not to let her be absent from school during school days. She sang for Mehtab in three films in 1942–43 and also acted and sang in a few films as a child artist. In her childhood, Raju Bharatan (a few years younger to her who later became a famous music and sports writer, critic and correspondent), actor Raj Kapoor and composer Madan Mohan (both a few years older) were her neighbourhood friends. Raj Kapoor and Madan Mohan both used to sing with her on A.I.R.(All India Radio), when she was a six-year-old girl. In fact, Madan Mohan first introduced her to A.I.R.(All India Radio) as a child singer.[23] Later in life, Raju Bharatan wrote extensively about Suraiya in his books, while Raj Kapoor was her hero in one of her films; Dastan (1950), and Madan Mohan composed music for her film Khubsoorat (1952).


As an actressEdit

Suraiya (aged 16) as heroine in the film 'Parwana' in 1947

Suraiya[24] 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, and the music and songs were also written and sung by her.[25][26][27] Later, she got a prominent role as a child artist with the help of her uncle M. Zahoor, who was then a popular villain in films. During a holiday from school in 1941, she accompanied him to Bombay's Mohan Studios to see the shooting of the film Taj Mahal (1941 film), which was being directed by Nanubhai Vakil. Vakil noticed the charm and innocence of young Suraiya and selected her to play the role of young Mumtaz Mahal.[9][28]

While she was singing for children's programs for All India Radio, Mumbai, as a six year old, Raj Kapoor and Madan Mohan, who were her playmates in her neighbourhood and were 5 to 6 years older than her, used to be her co-artists. In fact, they first introduced her to A.I.R. Raj Kapoor later attained fame as an actor and a filmmaker, while Madan Mohan became a well-known music director. Both were associated with her later as an adult, as her hero and as her music director respectively in films. At A.I.R., Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari was at that time the station director at the Bombay radio station. As soon as music director Naushad Ali heard Suraiya's voice, he chose her to sing (at age 13) for Mehtab in Abdul Rashid Kardar's film Sharda (1942).[29] He became Suraiya's mentor and she sang some of the best songs of her career under his baton. Later, he gave hit after hit when Suraiya became a full-fledged singing star in Anmol Ghadi (1946), Dard (1947), Dillagi (1949) and Dastaan (1950). Naushad Ali composed approximately 51 songs for Suraiya, coming in at second place after Husnlal Bhagatram for composing the highest number of songs for Suraiya (58 excluding 6 repeat songs for the film Kanchan (1955) from Amar Kahani (1949)).

Suraiya in the film 'Char Din' in 1949 opposite Shyam
Suraiya in the 1951 film '(Jaanwar)'
Suraiya in film 'Shama Parwana' in 1954
Suraiya in a film role

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,[30] 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).[31] She went on to co-star with K. L. Saigal in Omar Khayyam (1946) and Parwana (1947 film). Although by then she had a few hit songs, the four solo songs which she sang in Parwana for music director Khwaja Khurshid Anwar made her a genuine singer-film star. She had high regards for Khwaja Khurshid Anwar, for whom she sang thirteen songs during the period 1943 to 1949. More opportunities arose for Suraiya after the reigning famous actresses Noor Jehan and Khursheed Bano migrated to Pakistan following the Partition of India in 1947.

As an actress, Suraiya had an edge over her contemporaries Kamini Kaushal and Nargis, because she could sing her own songs. After three hits; Pyar Ki Jeet (1948), Bari Behen (1949) and Dillagi (1949), she became the highest paid film star, earning 1-2 lakhs rupees per film, when male actors got much less. When Pyar Ki Jeet was released, it caused large crowds outside Suraiya's house that had to be controlled by posting an inspector and four constables. During the premiere of Bari Behen, there was a very large crowd outside the cinema hall and the police had to baton-charge when Suraiya was walking into the hall. People even pulled at her clothes, so that after that, Suraiya stopped going to the premieres of her films.[32] But her reign at the very top was till 1952, after which she reduced her assignments. She made a comeback in Waaris and Mirza Ghalib (film) (1954). Rustom Sohrab (1963) was the last film of her career.

In the late 1940s, she worked with Dev Anand. While shooting the film Vidya (1948), she became romantically involved with him. The two of them were paired in seven films together; Vidya (1948), Jeet (1949), Shair (1949), Afsar (1950), Nili (1950), Do Sitare (1951) and Sanam (1951), all of which were successful at the box office. In these films, Suraiya always had top billing in the credits, indicating that she was a bigger star than Dev Anand. She fell in love with him during the shooting of the song 'Kinare Kinare Chale Jaayenge' in the film Vidya in 1948. While shooting the scene in the river, the boat they were in capsized, and Dev Anand saved Suraiya from drowning. From 1948 to 1951, their love affair was the talk of the tinsel world. During the shooting of the film Afsar, Dev Anand proposed to her and gave her a diamond ring worth rs. 3000, a huge sum in those days. Suraiya was glad to be proposed to, but soon her grandmother found out about her engagement and threw her ring into the sea. Her maternal grandmother opposed the relationship, mainly because they were Muslims and Dev Anand was a Hindu. Suraiya and Dev Anand were stopped from acting together after their last film in 1951 by her grandmother. Thereafter, Suraiya remained unmarried by her own choice for the rest of her life.[33][34]

Dev Anand with Suraiya at a party

From the late forties to the early fifties, she remained the highest paid, as well as the most popular star of the Indian cinema.[8]

Jawaharlal Nehru and Suraiya talking after a special screening of film 'Mirza Ghalib' in Rashtrapati Bhawan (President's Residence) in 1954

Her reign at the top was from 1947 to 1952, during which period she acted in 38 films. Her contract with A. R. Kardar ended with Deewana, after which she reduced her assignments in films. She made national news with Sohrab Modi's film Mirza Ghalib (1954), which won a national award, the President's Gold Medal for the Best Feature Film. In the film, she made vivid the role of the married Ghalib's lover. Along with an emotionally fluid performance where her expressions of love, expectation and hurt just seemed to merge into one another, the queen of cadence also recorded songs, which are still regarded by many as the definitive Ghalib renditions and the standard by which Ghalib's gazal singing is measured. No less a personality than Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru praised her singing and acting by saying: Tumne Mirza Ghalib ki rooh ko zinda kar diya, (You have brought Mirza Ghalib's soul to life).

After Mirza Ghalib, she acted in movies such as Bilwamangal (1954), Waris (1954), Shama Parwana (1954), Kanchan (1955) (which was released in 1949 as 'Amar Kahani' and re-released as 'Kanchan'), Inam (1955), Mr. Lambu (1956), Trolly Driver (1958), Miss 1958 (1958), Maalik (1958) and Shama (1961). In the mid-fifties, Suraiya told Lata Mangeshkar once that she would soon be cutting down on her films. Lata told her not to do so.[35] Rustom Sohrab (1963) was her last film. The song 'Yeh kaisi ajab daastan ho gayi hai'[36] from the film, which was one of her finest songs, was also her last, as with this song Suraiya also said 'adieu' to her singing career, along with her film career. Suraiya in an interview said that during the shooting of the film, she suffered from low blood pressure, which was the reason for her giving up her acting career.[37]

As a heroine, Suraiya acted with the following actors as heroes in her films; Prithviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, Dev Anand, K.L. Saigal, Ashok Kumar, Ajit, Kamal Kapoor, Rehman, Surendra, Shyam (Chopra), Amar Nath, Karan Dewan, Jairaj, Mukesh, C.H. Atma, Talat Mehmood, Sheikh Mukhtar, Naseer Khan (Dilip Kumar's brother), Vijay Dutt (Guru Dutt's brother), Prem Nath, Bharat Bhushan, Suresh, Wasti, Moti Lal, Jayant and Nusrat.

Her film Jaanwar in the early 1950s with Dilip Kumar as hero (and K. Asif as director), was left incomplete by her, as she refused to act in the film, because of rough behaviour by Dilip Kumar during the shooting of the film, when he tore her blouse and bruised her back so badly that it took a month to heal. Later, director-producer K. Asif wanted a kissing scene. Suraiya knew that censors would not pass it. When she asked Asif how he would get it through the censors, he could not satisfy her and she withdrew from the film. There was another story also, that Dilip Kumar and K.Asif were hand in glove to exploit and humiliate Suraiya, because Suraiya had earlier ignored Dilip Kumar's plea to act with her. So they did some torrid scene and kept on repeating it for four days. Fed up with this ghastly behaviour of the two, Suraiya refused to act for them and withdrew from the film.[38][39][40] In 1953, she refused the film Anarkali as heroine, a role which went to Bina Rai.[41]

As a singerEdit

Suraiya recording a song for the film 'Pagalkhana' (1952) (incomplete) for Vasant Desai (composer) (with hair) and P.L. Santoshi (director) (balding)

Suraiya had a very sweet voice from childhood. She could sing all types of songs with ease, whether sad, with pathos in her voice, or romantic with amorous love, or comic with playful zest. Suraiya was initially not a classically trained singer in Hindustani music, knowing the 'grammar' or theory of Hindustani music, yet she was a practical singer by nature. She became the most outstanding singing star of her times from 1945 to 1963 and reached dizzying heights during 1947–1950 in her popularity as an actress.

A Suraiya photo from the film 'Dillagi' (1949) with her autograph
Suraiya in 'Bari Behen' in 1949 opposite Rehman (hero) and Geeta Bali (supporting actress).
Suraiya at the 'Marine Chateau' apartment, Bombay in 1950 with Chetan Anand at a party at Nargis's home.
Suraiya and Raj Kapoor in the film 'Dastan' (1950)
Suraiya and Dev Anand in the film 'Sanam' in 1951
Suraiya with music director Madan Mohan, wife Sheila and Lata Mangeshkar in 1953 after Madan Mohan's marriage

Suraiya's 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. She went on to sing playback for actress Mehtab for Sharda (1942), Kanoon (1943) and Sanjog (1942–43) for Naushad and A.R. Kardar (director-producer), when her principal, Miss P.F. Puttack, took a strong view of her truancy from school, and her 'adventure' came to an abrupt halt. When Mehtab first saw baby Suraiya, she was hesitant to have her as her playback singer, but on hearing her, she wanted Suraiya to sing all her songs in her films.

Even in later years, in 1946, Mehtab was so attached to Suraiya's singing, that she requested Suraiya to record disc versions of her songs in her film Shama (1946), produced by Sohrab Modi, when Suraiya had become a busy heroine and had left singing playback in films for Mehtab. Suraiya then sang for Mehtab, in her own disc versions, available on YouTube, which were recorded by Shamshad Begum in the film.[42][43][44][45]

Suraiya debuted with Manna Dey in his first Hindi film song, and their only duet 'Jago ayee usha'[46] in Tamanna in 1942, was directed by his uncle, the famous K. C. Dey. Again in 1942, Suraiya paired with Rajkumari in Station Master ( w. music director Naushad) for the song 'Sajan ghar aye'. Suraiya acted in both these films.

Suraiya's first hit song was a duet with Arun Kumar in the film Hamari Baat in 1943, sung by her and Raj Kapoor on the screen. The music director was Anil Biswas. The song 'Bistar bicha liya hai tere dar ke samne ghar hum ne le liya hai tere ghar ke samne' was a super-hit. [47]

A few years later, the great singer-actor, K.L. Saigal was so impressed by the singing of the youthful 16-year-old Suraiya, that he readily agreed to have her opposite him in the film Tadbir as a heroine and a singer in 1945. The music was directed by Lal Mohammad in the film. 'Rani khol de dawar milne ka din aa gaya' is a memorable song from the film, she sang it with Saigal. Saigal again opted for Suraiya as his heroine and a singer in the films Omar Khayyam (1946) (w music director Lal Mohammad) and Parwana (1947) (w music director Khurshid Anwar). Parwana was Saigal's last film and was released after his death.[9]

Later, Suraiya continued to work with music director Naushad in a few films, and in 1946, she appeared with actress Noor Jehan in Anmol Ghadi as a co-star, with Naushad as the music director. She sang three songs in the film which became popular, of which 'Man leta hai angdai' went viral throughout the country. The musical film Dillagi (1949), under Kardar's direction, with Naushad's music, became a silver jubilee hit, with Suraiya becoming a national rage with her songs and acting.[48] In a span of 22 years, she gave a number of hits. In her honey-rich voice, songs like 'Woh paas rahein, ya door rahein',[49] 'Tere naino ne chori kiya',[50] 'Tu mera chaand, main teri chandni',[51] "Yaad karun tori batiya"[52] and the rare classical number 'Man mor hua matwala'[53] created hysteria in the country.

Khurshid Anwar was the music director in three films of Suraiya, viz. Ishara (1943), Parwana (1947) and Singaar (1949). Suraiya sang 13 songs in these films. Some outstanding songs of Parwana are "Jab tumhi nahin apne",[54] "Mere munderey na bol",[55] and "Papi papiha re".[56]

With the music director duo, Husnlal Bhagatram, Suraiya sang in 10 films and recorded the most songs (58, excuding 6 repeat songs for the film Kanchan) for any music director from 1948 to 1958. The films were Pyar Ji Jeet (1948), Aaj Ki Raat (1948), Naach (1949), Balam (1949), Bari Behen(1949), Amar Kahani(1949), Sanam (1951), Shama Parwana(1954), Kanchan (1955) and Trolley Driver (1955).[57] Her song 'O, door janewale, wada na bhul jana'[58] in Pyar Ki Jeet in 1948 became a hit all over India.

Suraiya did only three films with music composer Sachin Dev Burman, viz. Vidya(1948) (with Dev Anand), Afsar (1949) (with Dev Anand) and Lal Kunwar (1952)), as she was associated with other composers, and SD Burman came late into the scene in Bombay. Yet, most of their songs are memorable. 'Man mor hua Matwala' [59] (in Afsar), 'Nain Deewane'[60] 'Layi khushi ki dunia'[61] (with Mukesh in 'Vidya') and 'Preet sataye teri yaad na'[62] in Lal Kunwar being some of them.[63]

All of Suraiya's songs from her film Mirza Ghalib (1954) (music director: Ghulam Mohammed) have become classical songs and have enhanced the beauty of Ghalib's ghazals for the connoisseur and the layman alike. The songs 'Yeh na thi hamari kismat',[64] 'Nukta- cheen hai gam-e-dil',[65] 'Dil-e-nadan tujhe hua kya hai',[66] 'Aah Ko Chahiye',[67] and 'Rahiye ab aisi jagha'[68] are among the finest examples of ghazal singing.

Another movie of Suraiya which has evergreen songs is Shama (1961). The lyrics were written by the stalwart lyricist Kaifi Azmi and the music composer was another 'Great'; Ghulam Mohammed. The memorable songs sung by Suraiya are 'Mast aankhon mein shararat',[69] 'Dhadakte Dil Ki Tamanna ho',[70] and 'Aap se pyaar hua jata hai'.[71]

Suraiya was the only singing actress who also worked as a heroine and co-star with many other singing-stars of her times, including Noor Jehan (in Anmol Ghadi), C. H. Atma (in Bilwamangal), Talat Mahmood (in Maalik and Waris), Mukesh (in Mashuqa), K.L. Saigal (in Tadbeer, Omar Khaiyyam and Parwana) and Surendra (in 1857 and Anmol Ghadi). Her last film as a singing actress was Rustom Sohrab, with the song "Yeh kaisi ajab dastan ho gayi hai",[72] being her last, yet one of the most remembered songs.

Other notable directors who composed music for her songs include K. Dutta (in films Rang Mehal and partly Yateem), Krishen Dayal (in the film Lekh- songs such as 'Dil ka qarar lut gaya' and 'Badra ki chaon tale'), S.Mohinder (in Nilli), Sardul Kwatra (in Goonj), Madan Mahan (in Khubsoorat), Roshan (in Mashuqa- songs such as 'Mera bachpan wapas aya'), S.N.Tripahi (in Inaam), O.P.Nayyar (in Mr. Lamboo) and N. Dutta (in Miss 58). The music for her film Main kya karoon (1945) was composed by Nino Mujamdar, for Shakti by Ram Parshad /Azim Beg and for Amar Kahani by Baij Sharma. Her songs in Hunsraj Behl's Khilari (such as 'Chahat ka bhulana mushkil hai' and 'Dile nashad na ro'), in 'Shaan' (such as 'Tarap ae dil'), in Rajput, Moti Mehal and Resham are still remembered by music lovers. Her music director in the film Shokian (songs such as 'Ratoon ki neend chen li') was Jamal Sen; and Bilo C. Rani directed in Bilwamangal (songs such as 'Parwano se preet sekh le').

Suraiya was recognized as the first 'Queen of Melody ' of the sub-continent and was the first singer to be given the honorific title "Malika-e-Tarannum" (Queen of Melody) for her singing talent before partition, ahead of any other singer.

Suraiya could sing in all octaves, though she mostly sang her songs in lower octaves, as many of them were 'ghazals' and 'geets'. An example of her higher octave songs is from the film Tadbir (1945), viz. 'Jaag ae sonewale',[73] with music by Lal Mohammad, who composed music in just four films, but was masterful in each one of them.[74]

Suraiya's style and voice changed over the years. Till 1949, she sang in a bass voice, usually in the old (then current) slow style of singing. From 1950, her style of singing changed to a faster rhythmic tempo of singing (of the fifties and later style) in a treble voice, a style, which is most common till now.

Anil Biswas, playing on radio, Suraiya's earliest song, 'panchi ja', composed by Naushad from the film 'Sharda' (1942), said her voice was sweet and unique in 1942 and remained the same thereafter.[75] Such uniqueness was rarely to be found amongst singers in later years, when Anil Biswas was playing her song.

Suraiya sang her duets with the following singers for films, namely Manna De, Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Shyam Kumar, G.M. Durrani, Shamshad Begum, Geeta Dutt, Mukesh, C.H. Atma, Talat Mehmood, Surendra, K.L. Saigal, Surinder Kaur, Noor Jehan, Uma Devi, S. D. Batish, Arun Kumar, Nirmala Devi, Shankar Dasgupta, Raj Kumari, Amar, Meena Kapoor, Noor Mohammed Charlie, Indrabadan Bhatt and Hamida Banu.

Suraiya's songs, as a tribute to her, are played every year on her birth anniversary on 15 June and her death anniversary on 31 January by Radio Sri Lanka (Hindi music) and are posted on YouTube by eraksoldies.[76]

Craze for SuraiyaEdit

In the late 1940s and early 50s, craze for Suraiya amongst her fans was at its peak. Her house at Marine Drive was always mobbed by her fans and suitors when her car used to come out or enter the gates. Most of her fans were obsessed with her. Cinema-goers threw coins at the screen when she appeared to sing in her films and would demand a repeat of her songs. "She was a screen goddess and a mellifluous singer, who had the world at her feet."(Tribune). Even one of them (actress Veena's brother) went on a fast outside her house, so that she would acquiesce and marry him. Another crazy fan came with a 'barat'(wedding party) and dowry from Lahore, and yet another kept a photograph of her in the 'Puja' (temple at home) and would not eat without worshipping her. Even street singers would make money singing songs from her film Pyar ki Jeet. At the other extreme, even Kanti Desai, son of the Chief Minister of the then Bombay State, Morarji Desai (later Prime Minister of India), invited her to a private party, but she refused politely. It is said that Kanti Desai tried hard, even threatening her, but to no consequence.[77][78] Actor Dharmendra was a great fan of Suraiya. He is said to have seen her film Dillagi (1949) forty times in his teens, walking miles from his hometown, Sahnewal in Punjab, to watch her movies.[79]

Suraiya's glamour statement and fashionEdit

Suraiya was known for her glamour, dresses and jewellery in films such as Mirza Ghalib, Pyar Ki Jeet, Dillagi, Sanam, Dastan, Diwana and Shama Parwana, while many of her films had simple, non-glamorous roles. In real life, Suraiya was known for her love for ethnic dresses and jewellery. At functions, she wore her jewellery to her maximum advantage and wore make-up. She kept the image of actress Suraiya alive in her viewers minds till her later life.[80] Journalist Suresh Kohli reported in the Deccan Herald in 2011, that during the 1977 Filmfare Awards function, a hush descended on the scene, when the heavily be-jewelled Suraiya, dressed in green brocade saree and sporting a 'bindi' and escorted by Filmfare editor B.K. Karanjia, walked towards Dev Anand, her favourite hero, former lover, marriage proposer and friend, whom she could not marry because of her family's pressure. She had a special love for golden 'bindi' and would often be seen in public functions wearing it, even as late 2003, when she was honoured by an award by Dadasaheb Phalke Academy, Mumbai.

Even now in India, jewellery, clothing, etc. is sold by Suraiya's name by many online companies, because of the styles popularized by her in her films and by her adornments, such as 'Suraiya' earrings, 'Suraiya' bangles, 'Suraiya' burkas and 'Suraiya' mugs.

Personal life and love affair with Dev AnandEdit

Suraiya with Mumtaz Begum (mother), Badshah Begum (maternal grandmother) and Frank Capra (director-producer of Hollywood) in 1952 during his visit to the International Film Festival in India.
Suraiya in 1952
Gregory Peck at Suraiya's home, Krishna Mahal, Mumbai in 1954

In the late 1940s, Dev Anand used to enact Gregory Peck's mannerisms to please Suraiya, as she was a fan of Gregory Peck and she often expressed this to Dev Anand. Their love-affair continued for four years from 1948 to 1951. Dev Anand nicknamed Suraiya "Nosey", while to Suraiya, Dev Anand was "Steve", a name chosen from a book Dev Anand had given her.[81][82] Suraiya also called Dev Anand "Devina" and Dev Anand called Suraiya "Suraiyana", while faking an Italian accent. (Later on Dev Anand named his daughter 'Devina', as told to Suraiya, according to Star & Style, February 1987). Suraiya was so much in love with Dev Anand that she let Lata sing some of the songs picturized on her in her films, in order to get more time to be with Dev Anand. Her love for Dev Anand was so intense that she was ready to forgo her singing star career for Dev, who was even more passionate about her. "All I could then think of was my love for Dev - Suraiya as a singing star and her career be damned!"(in 'A Journey Down Memory Lane' by Raju Bharatan).[83] During the shooting of director Rana Pratap's film Jeet, both Dev Anand and Suraiya, with the help of the film cast and crew, namely Durga Khote (actress), Dwarka Divecha (cinematographer) and others, had made plans for marriage in a temple, and elopement, but at the last minute, an assistant director, jealous of their marriage, informed Suraiya's grandmother, who dragged her home from the scene.[84][85] Speaking to journalist Sheila Vesuna, Suraiya said: "Eventually, my grandmother succeeded in separating us. Dev was deeply hurt and offended by my lack of courage. But I was afraid for him. In retrospect, I don't think anything would have happened if I'd been bold enough. But I was terrified of my grandmother. And was heartbroken. But time is the greatest healer."[86] Suraiya's grandmother, Badshah Begum, who controlled the family, was fiercely opposed to Suraiya marrying Dev Anand. She was also supported by Suraiya's maternal uncle Zahoor and some film persons, viz. composer Naushad, director-producer A.R. Kardar, lyricist Naqshab (Nadira's first husband) and director M. Sadiq. During the shooting of Dev Anand's own production Afsar (1950), under the banner of 'Navketan', Suraiya's grandmother started to oppose their romance openly and started interfering even in the shooting of their love scenes.[87]

Kamini Kaushal, who worked with Suraiya and Dev Anand in Shair (1949), said in an interview to Filmfare in January 2014, that Suraiya would pass on her letters to her be delivered to Dev Anand, when her grandmother started keeping an eye on their love-affair. She said that Dev Anand was non-aggressive, not someone to put his foot down and say, "I'll marry her".[88] Actually, Kamini Kaushal said in 2007 to that in the early days "Dev was very shy and introverted. We acted together in Ziddi, which was his second film and my fourth. He is still a shy person, but puts on an act of flambuoyance. And let me tell you, it's a perfect act. I know him very well." [89] Dev Anand in a TV interview with Simi; "Rendezvous with Simi Garewal", after Suraiya's death in January 2004, revealed that Suraiya, who had gladly accepted his ring at first, never told him the reason for her later refusal of the marriage proposal, and that she was coerced to say "no" to him by her grandmother. In an interview with 'Stardust', June 1972, Suraiya revealed that she lacked the courage to resist her family and that Dev Anand truly loved her. Dev Anand wanted her to be bold and get married to him in a civil court. But Suraiya refused. "When I refused to marry Dev Anand, he called me a coward. Maybe I was one. I admit I didn't have the courage to take a step I was not absolutely sure of. Perhaps, it was a folly, perhaps a mistake, or perhaps destiny".[90] Dev Anand in the interview with Simi, a few years after Suraiya's death, said that after she had said "no" to him, much later, she probably regretted it. But by then, he had gone much ahead. Dev Anand was resentful that Suraiya did not marry him, even after she died. He said, "Youth is arrogant and at the moment you hold your head high. You are the queen of the world. One does not realize then. You realize much later." But he also said, " Maybe in her death she was probably released of her sorrows. Dev Anand was not the only one. Probaby she had many other sorrows as well" [91] In the interview to Stardust, Suraiya said that there were many reasons for her refusal not to rebel against the family and marry him. "Though I was sure of Dev's love, I was unsure of myself. I was confused."

The principal reason for the opposition from her grandmother and her advisers was that Dev Anand was of a different religion, and the covert one was that Suraiya was the only earning member of the family. Naqshab even brought a copy of the Koran to make her swear that she would not marry Dev Anand (February 1987, 'Star and Style' interview of both Dev Anand and Suraiya by Sheila Vesuna). The film people had also their own professional and personal interests in opposing an early marriage of their popular singing star.[21][92][93] Also, director M. Sadiq, who was a married man, himself wanted to marry her. Suraiya's parents wanted her to marry Dev Anand, but being a mellow couple, their voice was ignored by the grandmother. In the 'Star and Style' interview, Suraiya said that she gave in only when both her grandmother and her maternal uncle threatened to get Dev Anand killed. Suraiya told during this interview, that during the shooting of the film Neeli, when she told Dev Anand that she did not want her to be the cause of his death, he slapped her across the face and called her a "coward". She did not mind Dev Anand slapping her, because she knew how much he loved her. Dev Anand later kept on apologising for days about his behaviour.

The painful experience with Dev Anand left her bruised emotionally, a phase from which many said she never recovered.[94] She deliberately cut down her assignments after 1952. A retreat from the public atmosphere was followed by a return in films such as Mirza Ghalib (1954), for which she received praise even from the Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru, but she never attained the dizzy public popularity she had attained earlier on. Suraiya refused to marry anyone in future, in spite of efforts by her family to persuade her to marry certain film directors and businessmen of their community. M. Sadiq, film director and actor Rehman were some of the film persons who were interested in marrying Suraiya.[95] Dev Anand, who was very depressed on her reluctant refusal to marry him, was counselled by his brother Chetan Anand to recover and stand up from the break up, and he went on to marry Kalpana Kartik four years later in 1954 in a hurried simple marriage, but as he said in his auto-biography, Suraiya was his first true love. Elsewhere, he has said to Shekhar Hattangadi that in spite of his marriage to Kalpana Kartik after his failed love affair that "Suraiya was the love and passion of his life and that I will always cherish her memory".[96] While Suraiya was alive in October 2003, Dev Anand accepted the fact that "Suraiya was my first and only real love. I wanted to marry her and she was willing. But her Muslim family objected to me, being a Hindu, and created a big row over the communal issue. Remember, she was already a big singing star when we first met, and I was a nobody. Fans mobbed her, her songs were on the air, and her star image added to the attraction."[97] In an interview to A. Ganesh Nadar of, reminiscing about Suraiya in his autobiography, Dev Anand said: "The book would not be honest without mentioning her. Parting with her was painful. I met her for the last time on the terrace of her building on Marine Drive (in south Mumbai). That was the saddest day of my life."[98]

A limerick ('latka'), “chhayi bahar hai, jiya beqarar hai, aaja mere Dev Anand, Suraiya bemar hai” was often heard in the 1950s, to cajole Dev Anand to woo Suraiya once again.[99]

Suraiya never regretted that she loved Dev Anand. To the interviewer of 'Stardust' in June 1972, she said " forgets only what one regrets. I do not regret for a moment that I loved Dev Anand. Why should I deliberately bury my past, which holds my most precious memories?"

It was reported by film magazines in the 1950s, after Suraiya had reluctantly turned down Dev Anand's marriage proposal, that he sent Suraiya red roses on her birthday every year. This was refuted by Dev Anand in his autobiography in 2007.

In 1979, in a chat with Raju Bharatan for his later book A journey down melody lane (2010), Suraiya regretted that she was completely under her grandmother's thumb and could not oppose her in marrying Dev Anand, even when she was in intense love with him, who as a gentleman, never exceeded his limits, unlike many other actors, who had tried to be fresh with her. "I would have wed my Dev and would have been perfectly happy with him to this day. I say this since I found Dev to be a perfect gentleman compared to .... At all times by contrast, Dev was scrupulously correct in his romantic approach. Even the first kiss upon me, he planted only when I looked up, offering my lips. I tell you, I should have stood up to my granny then and there. Gone ahead and wed my Dev. But I was too much under Granny's thumb and the moment was gone."

Suraiya and Dev Anand later met as friends on a few occasions in parties in Mumbai. Suraiya gave up her professional career as an actress and singer in 1963, and even later refused to sing for music directors, such as Naushad and for music companies like HMV and Polydor, despite several requests by them. She went on to live life away from the media glare and public eye thereafter, except for appearing on a very few public occasions, such as during Noor Jehan's visit to India in 1982. She did give a few interviews for magazines and some media people from India and Pakistan in the 1970s and 80s. Only later in life in the 1990s and thereafter, did she accept awards and mementos and appeared on a few public occasions.

Gregory Peck visits Suraiya at her home.Edit

Suraiya was an ardent fan of the Hollywood star Gregory Peck, who paid her a surprise visit along with her uncle at midnight from the hotel Ambassador near her house on 5 January 1954. Gregory Peck had come to Bombay for presenting the first Filmfare Awards, but was late because of a flight delay from Ceylon, where he was acting in the film The Purple Plain.[100][101][77][102] In 1952, Suraiya had given Frank Capra a signed photograph of her to be delivered to her idol, Gregory Peck, when Capra came to India for 20 days to attend the International Film Festival. Suraiya said that "he found my photograph which I sent him through Mr. Capra so beautiful that he had it on the wall of his bedroom! He did, and he actually asked me to act with him in a picture."

Later life and last daysEdit

Suraiya's maternal grandmother, Badshah Begum, who played a major part in her career and even her personal life, later went to Pakistan to live with her brother and his son, and she was left alone with her mother, Mumtaz Begum. The time with her mother were her happy years, when her mother took care of her daily needs and she would occasionally go to her film world friends. She had a few friends like old-timers Jairaj, Nimmi, Nirupa Roy and Tabassum, with whom she met occasionally.[103]

Upon the publication of a special article, 'Suraiya Yesterday and Today', in the new series 'Weekly Special' of 'The Illustrated Weekly of India', (25 November 1979), an interview by Raju Bhartan, conducted at the insistence of the magazine's new editor, M. V. Kamath, who was an avid Suraiya fan, Suraiya became the talk of the town once again. Many Bollywood celebrities, associated with her earlier, called her up to reminisce and congratulate her. Bharat Bhushan and Shammi Kapoor, her film heroes and Dharmendra, who was an ardent Suraiya fan, were the first to call, followed by Naushad, her music director of many a jubilee hit and her heroes and co-singers Mukesh, C.H. Atma and Talat Mahmood. Suraya's mother was very happy and Suraiya invited Raju Bhartan for high tea at her house.[104]

After her mother's death in 1987, Suraiya started feeling lonely in her (rented) apartment (owned by Aswin Shah)[105] in Krishna Mahal, Marine Drive in Mumbai, where she lived from the early 1940s until her death in 2004 at the age of 74. She possessed several apartments in Worli, Mumbai and a house and an orchard in Lonavala, near Pune.[106]

Suraiya met Asha Bhonsle on 10 December 1993 at Raju Bharatan's daughter Shilpa's wedding reception at Bombay's Vile Parle, where Raju Bharatan asked Suraiya in a chat along with Asha, whether the two had sung a song together, to which Suraiya said, "regrettably no", forgetting that the two had sung a duet together in 1954 in 'Shama Parwana', titled 'Jake lage naina, wo paiye nahi chaina'.[107]

In December 1998, Suraiya then over 68 years old, while in New Delhi to receive the Sahitya Academy Award during Mirza Ghalib's bi-centenanry celebrations, talked in a low voice and declined to sing, saying she had left “mosiqui (music) years ago”. When a reporter mentioned Dev Anand, she avoided the comment, and chose to change the subject by saying that it was getting late and she had to go back.[108]

Tabassum, who worked with Suraiya in 'Bari Behen' and 'Moti Mahal' as her younger sister, met her often at her home, or rang Suraiya from home. During Suraiya's last few months of her life, Tabassum said "It's sad that she had shut her doors to the world in her last days. Sometimes when I visited her, I’d find papers and milk collected at her door. She never opened the door. But she’d talk comfortably with me on the phone. I remember our last conversation. I asked her: "Aapa kaisi hain?" (Elder sister, how are you?") She replied in verse: "Kaisi guzar rahi hai sabhi poochte hai mujhse, kaise guzaarti hoon koi nahin poochta."( "Everbody asks me 'how are you', but nobody asks me how I spend my days and nights.") (As told to Farhana Farook in 2012).[109]

She died on 31 January 2004 aged 74, after being hospitalized for a few days. In her last six months, she was taken care of by her neighbour and family friends; Dhimant Thakar's family, with whom she stayed during this period. She was very close to the two daughters (Amee and Camy) of Dhimant Thakar.[110][111][112][113][114][115][116] She was admitted for a brief period for hypoglycemia, ischemia and insulinoma to Harkishandas hospital ( Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre ) in South Mumbai by the Thakars.

In the hospital, actor Sunil Dutt, music director, Naushad and Pratap A. Rana, writer-producer of her films "Jeet", "Vidya" and "Parwana" (along with R. B.Haldia), visited her during this period. She died at 9.25 am on 31 January 2004.[117][118] Actor Dharmendra, who was her ardent fan, also attended her funeral.[119] She was buried at Bada Kabaristan in Marine Lines, Mumbai.[120]

After her death, Suraiya's property at Worli and her house at Krishna Mahal, Marine Drive, where she lived on rent for over 70 years, went into legal dispute, as she did not leave behind an explicit will.[121][122][123] While the house at Krishna Mahal was claimed by her adopted family (and lawyer) and her Pakistani cousin, Mehfooz Ahmed (maternal uncle M. Zahoor's son) in Dubai, her property was claimed by the adopted family of her lawyer (based on his daughter being a nominee in Suraiya's papers and gift to her as 'hiba'), and her cousin.[124] No relatives from her father's side claimed anything from her property. In 2006, Mumbai High Court granted Mehfooz Ahmed, her Pakistani cousin, born in Lahore in 1943 and staying in Dubai, the right to administer Suraiya's estate, as she died without a will. In 2008, her maternal cousin brother (Mehfooz Ahmed), who never met her for over 40 years before her death, got the right to the rented house at Krishna Mahal, valued at 7.5 crores rupees, as a tenant by the High Court judgement (according to Mumbai's old rent control laws) over her family lawyer. The house owner Ashwin Shah did not contest the case. The cousin had no objection to the house being sold.[125]

Honours and recognitionsEdit

In 1946, Suraiya's film Anmol Ghadi with Noor Jehan and Surendra celebrated 'Silver Jubilee' (25 weeks continuous run in one or more cinema halls) in Bombay (now 'Mumbai') and other cities of India.[126]

In 1947, Suraiya's film Dard in which she co-starred with Munnawar Sultana and also sang her own songs, celebrated 'Silver Jubilee' in Bombay (now 'Mumbai') and in other major cities in India.

In 1947, Suraiya's film Natak as heroine, with Amar as hero, celebrated 'Silver Jubilee' in the major Indian cities.

In 1948, Suraiya was awarded a gold medal by the noted theatre personality Adi Pherozeshah Marzban, for her role in Kajal (film), in which she acted as a sixteen year old to a sixty-year-old woman.[127] The film was produced by the noted ghazal and folk singer Malika Pukhraj, after she had gone to Pakistan, under the 'Ratan Pictures' banner, and was directed by M. Sadiq.[128]

In 1948, her film Pyar ki Jeet with Rehman as hero, became a hit and celebrated 'Silver Jubilee' in Bombay and in other cities in India.

In 1948, Suraiya was voted as the 'Best movie actress of the year'[129]

In 1949, her film Dillagi with actor Shyam as hero, celebrated 'Silver Jubilee' in Bombay and in other major cities.

In 1949, Suraiya's film Badi Behen, with Rehman as hero, became a huge success and got recognition as a 'Silver Jubilee' film.

In 1950, Suraiya's film Dastan with her as heroine opposite Raj Kapoor as hero, celebrated 'Silver Jubilee' in the major cities of India. The film collected rupees 65,00,000.[130]

In 1951, in the inaugural issue of the famous film news-weekly 'Screen', Suraiya was given the pride of place on the front page, with her photo adorning the page.[131]

In 1952, her film Diwana, with Suresh as hero attained success as a 'Silver Jubilee' film in the major cities of India.

In the 4 April 1952 issue of the newly launched film magazine 'Filmfare', Suraiya's colour photograph appeared on the front cover during the first year, second month of its publication, the first issue of which came out in March 1952.[132]

Suraiya featured regularly in 'Lux' soap campaigns in magazines and 'Lux' calendars in the 1950s.[133][134]

In 1954, Suraiya's duet 'Rahi Matwale' from the film Waris with Talat Mehmood was selected as the fifth Song of the Year , chosen by listeners in 'Binaca Geet Mala' on Radio Ceylon.[135]

In 1954, her film Mirza Ghalib was the fourth highest-grossing film of the year.[136] The film collected rupees 90,00,000.[137]

In 1955, Mirza Ghalib (film), a film in which Suraiya acted, was awarded the President's Gold Medal for the Best Feature Film of 1954 (first Hindi film), during the 2nd National Film Awards, and her acting and singing were highly appreciated and extolled by the then Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru at Rastrapati Bhawan, during the special screening of the movie, which Suraiya said was bigger than an Oscar.[77][138]

In November 1956, Suraiya was specially invited to the Soviet Union, where her films Mirza Ghalib and Waris were shown in the 'Festival of Indian Cinema' along with other films such as Awara of Raj Kapoor and Nargis, who also went as part of the delegation. The films were shown in cities such as Baku, capital of Azerbaijan.[139]

In 1994, a retrospective of Suraiya's films was held at Mumbai by the 'Cine Club' during 21 to 26 March 1994, which was inaugurated by the then Cabinet Minister of Maharashtra, Vilas Rao Deshmukh (later Chief Minister of Maharashtra), in Suraiya's presence, wherein she gave an introductory talk about her films and the prevailing trends in Bollywood films. This event is posted on YouTube as 'Suraiya-Khusboo ka Safar'[140] in four parts.

In 1996, Suraiya was awarded the Screen Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to her by the actor-politician Sunil Dutt.[118][141] Dressed in a splendid white salwar kameez, Suraiya was overwhelmed with emotion on the occasion, and said in her ever sweet voice that she had had a long association with the film industry. She was deeply moved to note that the people continued to remember her after so many years. When the anchor-actor, Javed Jafri asked her to sing a few lines of any of her songs, she refused. Indian Express reported: "As a star, she still remembers the meaning of letting a legend live. Heroines are captured forever on the silver screen and the public memory must never be updated."[34]

In December 1998, she was specially honoured for perpetuating Mirza Ghalib's memory by her acting and songs by the then Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee during the Mirza Ghalib bi-centenary celebrations in New Delhi, conducted by the Urdu Academy and Sahitya Academy.[142]

In 1999, she was honoured with the Bimal Roy Memorial Trophy, instituted by the Bimal Roy Memorial and Film Society, Mumbai.[143][144]

In 1999, Suraiya was specially invited as the chief guest to present the Zee Cine Lifetime Acievement Award to Lata Mangeshkar, the event being conducted by Amin Sayani.[145]

On 30 April 2003, Suraiya, "the unforgettable diva of yesteryear", as described by the Times of India, was honoured by the Dadasaheb Phalke Academy and Screen World Publication at a special function on the 134th birth anniversary of Dada Phalke, and the occasion was chaired by the Cultural Minister of Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan.[146] The Times of India reported: "Dressed in a crimson red zardosi churidar with sparkling long dangling earrings, the singing rage of the 40's, Suraiya received a standing ovation as she went on the dais to receive a small token of appreciation from the Dadasaheb Phalke Academy and Screen World Publication, organisers of the show".

In 2010, her song, 'teri naino ne chori kiya' from her film 'Pyar ki Jeet'(1949) was selected by Times Music in its 150 best songs of Bollywood during the period of 80 years, 1930 - 2010, released in 10 CDs, along with a book, written by music critic, Rajiv Vijaykar, highlighting the landmark songs.

In 2012, Suraiya was selected in the top twenty superstars of Bollywood of all time in Bhaichand Patel's book 'Bollywood's Top 20: Superstars of Indian Cinema' published by Penguin Books. These, according to the author, were the most popular star actors of their times.[147]

On 3 May 2013, a postage stamp, bearing her image in various roles, was released by the India Post owned by the Government of India to honour her on the occasion of the '100 Years of Indian Cinema'.[148]

In 2013, in a poll conducted by the ethnic Indian brand Seven East, in association with the International Indian Film Academy, as part of the 100 years of Indian Cinema, Suraiya was voted as the "Best On Screen Beauty with the Most Ethnic Look", followed by Indian film actresses Mumtaz, Waheeda Rehman, Madhubala, Meena Kumari, Sharmila Tagore and Hema Malini.[149]

In 2017, a number of Suraiya's songs have been included, along with her interviews in the Saregama 'Carvaan' preloaded portable digital music player brought out by Saregama music company.

Amin Sayani, renowned radio and TV anchor, and music historian selected Suraiya's song 'Wo pas rahe ya door rahe' from film Badi Behen, as one of the top 12 songs during the period 1949 to 1953.[150]

A building in which Suraiya owned flats in Worli, Mumbai is named 'Suraiya Apartments' and a road in Nagargaon, Lonavala, District Pune, where she had some property is named 'Suraiya Road' after her.

Suraiya's personalityEdit

Speaking about Suraiya, Dev Anand said in an interview: "Suraiya and I fell in love when we started working together. She was a very nice girl who radiated warmth and friendliness. She was an established star, but had no airs about her. I was passionately in love with her. I was young, It was my first love and very intense."[84] "Suraiya had beautiful eyes, she was young, a nice person and we got friendly with each other very quickly, but she was a total prisoner in the hands of her family. She was never an independent girl, controlled by the family members."[151]

Suraiya continued to be so mesmerized by Dev Anand's memories and her love for him, that in a much later interview with Raju Bharatan, she always kept referring to him as "my Dev', when talking about Dev Anand and her aborted love-affair (aborted by her granny, A.R. Kardar (producer-director) and Naushad (music-director)). "I should have stood up to my granny, then and there. Gone ahead and wed my Dev. But, I was too much under Granny's thumb and the moment was gone. What hurt like hell was their "Woh Hindu hai" ("He is a Hindu") line on which they based their opposition. I owe so much to Kardar and Naushad (for her professional life), but I will never forgive them for the one-track outlook they adopted in creating hurdle after hurdle for me in the purely personal matter of my marrying my Dev"."[152]

Suraiya had a calm temperament and never showed any bitterness or rancour that is often found in people who have tasted the fruits of success and had to move on. On the contrary, there was a sense of relief from having escaped from the applause, bright lights and camera. (Interview to 'Society Magazine' in January, 1982.) [20]

Suraiya never boasted of her singing and acting ability, in spite of her immense popularity in her times. Rather, she was often dismissive about both her acting and singing talents, whenever an interviewer questioned her about them, as per her interviews to media and to Raju Bharatan, while he was researching for his books. About her singing, she remarked to Raju Bharatan in his book 'Lata Mangeshkar- a Biography', that "Noorjehan was born great, Lata achieved greatness, I had singing greatness thrust upon me". She was wrong on this count, seeing that she sang only for her films, as remarked by Lata and Naushad's insistence on her to sing again, while she was in her fifties, but she refused to oblige him.

The centre of attraction of Suraiya's beauty were her large expressive eyes, which were so magnetic that songs were written about them. A song which was sung by her in Pyar ki jeet (1948) about the eyes, 'tere naino ne chori kiya', where her eyes were shown to advantage on screen, catapulted her to be the reigning superstar of her times, fetching her one and a half lakh rupees per film, the highest in those times, when heroes were getting less than one lakh rupees.[153]

Suraiya was well built with strong bones from her teenage years, although she was not so in her earlier days. In a film, Prithviraj Kapoor, who was the hero of her film, found it difficult to carry her up the stairs, when he had to shoot repeatedly for a scene.[154]

Suraiya loved dolls. Wherever she traveled, she always brought back dolls. She also loved lamps and bought many antique lamps. There were antiques, awards and paintings around the house. She was obviously a lover of art. (from Amee Shah, daughter of her lawyer and a family friend Dhimant Thakar, after her demise, on

Suraiya read a lot and was especially fond of Urdu 'shaiyari'. She had a good collection of books. Her favourite authors were Somerset Maugham, Marie Corelli and Khalil Jibran, according to her fan, businessman Mushtaq Abdulla, who met her at her home in 1980.[155] She was reticent by nature and kept only a few close friends.

Amee Shah, daughter of her lawyer, revealed that she often spoke about Nargis. Nargis had lived only four buildings away and they were childhood friends. Suraiya had lived in Krishna Mahal since she was four years old. In her childhood days, Raj Kapoor used to come there often, to take Nargis and Suraiya (aunty) to All India Radio. Suraiya liked Adnan Sami and often copied the way he moved his hands (in the fashion of the "lift kara de" song). Though she had put on weight after she stopped acting, she had become slim again during her last five years.

She had photos of personalities close to her and of VIPs adorning her drawing room, as seen after her demise. Among them was her mother, Mumtaz Begum, with Raj Kapoor posing with her much after her retirement, and C.M. Vilas Rao Deshmukh bestowing an award, among others. She had a very large sized photograph of herself adorning the wall of her drawing room of her adulthood in the 1970s, in her usual glamorous fashion. This photograph has been used in her albums released later by HMV and T-series. She had her drawing room very tastefully decorated.

In her youth, Suraiya was friendly with elderly journalist B.K. Karanjia, editor of Filmfare and Screen. She stood by him when a section of the movie industry did not support his hosting 'Constellation Nite', for a charitable cause (scarcity in the State) for a technical reason. The event was held on 10 May 1953 at the Lloyd's Reclamation Grounds on Marine Drive. When she went on stage to sing a song from the film Pagalkhana with Vasant Desai wielding the baton, Dilip Kumar was so moved at the end, that he went on stage to garland her, which brought the whole house down. ('Counting my Blessings' by B.K. Karanjia.)[156][157]

Suraiya on her co-actorsEdit

During her 28 year long career, Suraiya worked with several actors and actresses. During her interviews in 1952 and later, she described the qualities of her co-stars in great detail.[158]

She worked with Prithviraj Kapoor in Ishara in 1943, when she was only thirteen, and Prithviraj Kapoor was in his mid forties. He encouraged her as his heroine, in spite of the age difference. She said that she respected him very much, and the respect increased over the years.

Suraiya described Raj Kapoor as a "bombshell" on the sets and predicted in 1952 that he would make a great producer-director in future, as he was very imaginative.

Suraiya worked with K.L. Saigal in three films during 1945 and 1946, when she was 15 to 16 years old. To her, working with Saigal was a great honour and privilege, as he was the king of romance and singing at that time.

She was the heroine of actor Shyam, and worked with him in three films, viz. Dillagi, Nach and Char Din, before he died suddenly of a fall from a horse on the set in 1951. She said that she often thought of him as the Errol Flynn of India, as he was a merry person, jocular and talkative. Suraiya confided that Shyam was quite close to her family, and even often teased her granny.

Ashok Kumar, with whom Suraiya worked in one film, Khiladi (1950), was very humorous on the sets, although he appeared to be a serious person. To her, Ashok Kumar matured much as a polished actor after Mahal (1949).

Ajit, her hero in Moti Mahal, appeared to be a shy person to her at first, although to his fans, he was a "tough" guy. He did not mind people saying anything about him. He was nicknamed "John Hal" on the sets.

Her hero of several films, Rehman, was a "thinking actor", who often played chess with her, a game she did not like much. He was generally serious, but could be witty at times with his jokes, which he wanted others to listen to.

Jairaj, actor and hero in many of her films, had been known to her since her childhood. She knew him as a very generous and straightforward person, who was taken advantage of by many people. He too, was often a guest at her home on Sundays for lunch.

Nasir Khan, younger brother of Dilip Kumar, who acted in Lal Kunwar (1952), could do well under a good director. He was much interested in puzzles and often asked about puzzles on the sets from his co-artists.

Suraiya acted with Motilal as his heroine in three films, Do Dil, Aaj Ki Raat and Lekh. Motilal made a perfect lover on the sets, as he was a 'natural actor'.

Mukesh acted in Mashuka (1953) with her and was self-conscious on the sets at first, and Suraiya had to guide her.

Suraiya said that she had known Surendra since her childhood, when he was already a grown person. She acted in two films with Surendra, viz. Anmol Ghadi (1946) and 1857 (1946). Surendra once told her, when she was acting as a heroine opposite him, that he had saved her as a child from a car on the road when she was a toddler, wearing nothing.

According to Suraiya, Dev Anand was a debonair, handsome actor, who acted in the most number of films (seven) with her. Although Dev Anand believed himself to be a "tough" guy, he actually was not. He had a habit of pulling Suraiya's hair between takes. He could play all types of roles, but hated singing roles. His greeting "hello" to all, while entering the sets, was known to everyone. In an interview in Stardust in June 1972,[81] Suraiya described him as a very sensitive person. Though her maternal grandmother and her son treated her very badly, he bore it all till he could take it no more. Yet, he proposed to her, which she did not accept, under pressure and threat from her grandmother and her son, with whom the grandmother later left for Pakistan. In the same issue of 'Stardust', Suraiya in the section 'These are a few of my favourite things' to the query: "My favourite co-star" wrote: "Dev Anand...........of course."

Suraiya spoke highly of Noor Jehan, a few years her senior in acting, in an interview to 'Times of India' newspaper on 25 December 2000. "Noor Jehan was my ideal. Noor Jehan was the most affectionate person, an ideal mother and a top class career woman. She was one of the greatest singer-actresses the world has ever seen and the film industry has yet to produce another like her. I was only 14 years when I acted with Noor Jehan and was not a trained singer. But both Noor Jehan and Naushad encouraged me to sing in the film Anmol Ghadi, I got a small role in the film, but got noticed because of her. The film was a big hit and celebrated a diamond jubilee in the Novelty Cinema. It was a great experience with Noor Jehan, as she was friendly, witty and used to crack jokes and also used to give me tips on makeup. She was like my sister, a great mother and a fighter who carried on with her career despite being a single mother".

Suraiya's views on later day Bollywood cinema in nineteen ninetiesEdit

Speaking during the retrospectives of her films in March, 1994, Suraiya was critical of the trend in Bollywood films of excessive sex, nudity and violence in films, which led the youth of the country in wrong direction. She was also critical of the censor board, which passed such scenes and double meaning dialogues and songs in films, without much thought. They did not understand the meaning of such dialogues and passed them, as if keeping their eyes, ears and mouth shut. No doubt, Bollywood had some very good film-makers, like B. R. Chopra and his brother Yash Chopra, who made meaningful and healthy films. Suraiya said that the film fraternity should have its own screening body, which should provide guidance to film-makers and did monitoring of films, before sending them to the Censor Board.[159][160]

Suraiya's association boosted actors' and film artistes careerEdit

A number of actors' career took off after acting with Suraiya in her films, such was her appeal. Comedian Om Prakash, who tried his luck as a hero and as a villain in Lahore, began to succeed in his career after acting in Suraiya's film Char Din (1949), on coming to Bombay (now Mumbai).[161] So, also, was Baby Naaz, who acted with Suraiya in her film Resham (1952), and later became a famous child actress in Boot Polish (1954), and later as a well known actress.[162] Meena Kumari acted as a supporting actress with Suraiya in Sanam (1951), and was selected as a heroine in Baiju Bawra in 1952, with Bharat Bhushan, a film which won her a Filmfare Award.[163][163]

An indirect contribution of Suraiya in furthering Mohammed Rafi's music was her generosity. In his struggling days, Mohammed Rafi used to come to Marine Drive esplanade early at 4 A.M. to practice his music. Suraiya, on finding out that it was Rafi who did 'riyaz' (practice music) near her house, because of shortage of space in his small house at Bandra, asked him to come to her house to practice in the morning. For one year, Rafi practiced music at her house, till he got a bigger house for himself.[164]

Competition with LataEdit

Although Suraiya had no feeling of competition with Lata Mangeshkar in her singing career, as Suraiya was an established singing star when Lata was starting her music career, and as Suraiya sang only for her own films, yet cine magazines attributed in the 50s and 60s that there was competition between them. This was discussed by media even after her death with Lata, who said that there was no question of competition, as Suraiya sang for herself. But, Lata said that although she was much awed by Suraiya's star status in her heyday, she was not very close to her. Even Suraiya remarked, as stated by Raju Bhartan in his book 'A journey down melody lane', that Lata was formal with her when she met Lata in 1994 after Suraiya's retrospective of her films was shown in 1994 and in 1999 when she presented Lata with the 'Zee Lifetime Achievement' award.

In 1962, when Lata got food-poisoning, cine magazines spread rumours that Suraiya had got her food poisoned. Both Lata and Suraiya ridiculed the story, when asked about the rumours. Suraiya said that there was no question of rivalry, as she herself suggested Lata's name in the film 'Balam' in 1949 as a singer for her film, since she was too romantically involved with her hero in films, Dev Anand, at that time and was glad to give her assignments to Lata. Much later, after Suraiya's death in 2004, Lata remarked that she was aghast that people could write such things about Suraiya. There was never any competition between them. Lata broke her silence after Suraiya's death and mentioned: "I can’t claim to have been close friends with her. But whenever we met she was really warm, though mischief-makers, the 'Narad Munis' of our industry, tried to spoil our relationship. I remember they spread the rumour that: "Suraiya gave Lata something to eat which has spoilt her voice." When press persons asked me about this I was aghast: "Suraiyaji ke baarey mein aisa kaise soch sakte hain?" ("How could one even think such a thing about Suraiyaji?"). She was a star in her own right. And because she was an actress, she felt no sense of rivalry with me or I with her..."

Insufficient later years recognition by the Government and Bollywood mediaEdit

As reported in 'The Tribune' in 2004,[165] while much lesser actors and singers were honoured with Padma awards, the Indian government failed to give her due recognition in bestowing her an appropriate Padma award, while she was still alive. In her singing days, she was no less than Lata. To her fans, she was even more, since she was a singing actress. Even the Bollywood media moghuls, except for the 'Screen' film media, which bestowed her a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996,[166] failed to remember her in giving her a Lifetime Achievement Award for her illustrious career.

Tributes to SuraiyaEdit

On her death on 31 January 2004, the then Prime Minister of India, Atal Behari Vajpayee in a condolence message said: "Suraiya was not only a good actress, she was also a talented singer. The legendary singer was endowed with a mellifluous voice".

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 time to come. Her contribution to the development of the Indian cinema will be remembered for long".[167]

O.P. Dutta, director-writer, the only living director (when she died) to have worked with her (in Pyar Ki Jeet) remembered her: "Suraiya, Bano to me, was a bundle of unforgettable qualities. A sublime voice, the ring in the voice, the perfect diction, the effortless rendering. But she always insisted that she was no singer... There were congratulations all around (on her success in his film). But Suraiya insisted she was no great shakes as an actress. The argument was over when she gave a sterling performance in Bari Behen. The success made Suraiya smile that unforgettable smile that could send a thousand hearts aflutter. She was right at the top and I was very happy for her."[168]

Dilip Kumar, veteran actor, said on her passing away: "She was a caring girl, very affectionate, particularly with junior artistes... Suraiya will be sorely missed, even though she had been a recluse for decades."[169]

Dev Anand said on her death: "I felt sad when she died. One does feel sad at death. I did not go to her funeral because I would have been reminded of her past. I cried from a distance."[170] In an interview with Simi Garewal in her show; 'Rendezvous with Simi Garewal', Dev Anand paid his ultimate tribute to Suraiya, speaking poignantly about their failed love affair and Suraiya's loneliness in life. He said: "In her death, maybe she was relieved of her sorrows in life".[171] Speaking to 'The Indian Express' correspondent, Dev Anand said: "I first met Suraiya on the sets of a film called Jeet. I think it was in the year 1948. She was a big star, a super singer while I was a newcomer. I remember our first shot together. I was playing the piano while she had to lean towards me and sing. We hit off well and struck a good friendship. Our story is quite an old story now. It's history now, but at the same time it's become a legend. I shared some great memories and moments with her. Suraiya has been a great chapter in my life. She was a very vibrant person and had beautiful and arresting eyes. She was a very talented singer and a spontaneous actress. She was a star, but she never forgot that she was a human being first." On being asked as to why he did not go to meet her in the hospital in her last days, Dev Anand said "I didn't go and meet her in the hospital because that would boomerang. The whole thing would have been highlighted and a round of fresh scandal would have started."

Music director Naushad in an interview to 'Outlook' Magazine on her demise had only praise for her immense talent and character. "Actually she was a very sophisticated and cultured person. She knew how to show respect to elders and even when she became a star, she continued to behave with the same dignity and decorum with which she had first met me."

Lata Mangeshkar, Suraiya's co-singer in her films 'Balam', 'Sanam' and 'Diwana', narrated to Subash K. Jha of 'The Times of India' newspaper: "My eyes mist over when I remember Suraiyaji's stardom. Oh-ho-ho ho! 'Kya naam tha unka'! ('How popular was she!'). I used to just gaze at her long sleek car (a Cadillac). I remembered her car's number by heart. 'Humlog sochte thay kitne bade artiste hain'! ('We would feel in awe, how big an artiste was she!'). People say Suraiyaji's death is a big loss to the film industry. But who went to see her when she was alive?"

Singer Nitin Mukesh said that Suraiya had played heroine opposite his father, playback legend Mukesh, in the movie Mashooka (1953), as the lead actor. "Papa was very fond of her. She met me at a couple of award functions and was always affectionate."[172]

Jaya Bhaduri, actress and wife of actor Amitabh Bachchan, poignantly remembered Suraiya in 2004 just after her death, while receiving the "Sansui Lifetime Achievement Award", saying that more tributes should have come her way, considering how big an artiste she was.[173]

Earlier, in 1974, Sulakshana Pandit, then an upcoming actress-cum-singer, in an interview to the Hindi film magazine 'Mayapuri' said: "I want to be a heroine-cum-singer like Suraiya. Her voice was fabulous, and she sang her own songs for films. I want to do the same." [174]

Editor of the film weekly 'Screen (magazine)', Rauf Ahmed, remembered her: "She was the uncrowned queen of her time, a dazzling singing star. She took off from where Noor Jehan left when she went to Pakistan. When Suraiya acted with Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor, she was bigger than all of them." (For the Screen Videocon Lifetime Achievement Award (1996)): "It was difficult to bring Suraiya to the Screen Awards ceremony. Till the last moment, we didn't know if she would arrive to collect the award," he said.[175]

Outlook (magazine) wrote after her death: "She evoked the kind of hysteria [in the late 1940s] that can be compared only with Rajesh Khanna in his heyday from 1969 to 1972. Ask any old-timer and they would confirm that people bunked offices, schools and colleges, even shops closed on the opening day of her films, to see her films first day, first show."[176]

The Hindu newspaper wrote about Suraiya: "What can you say about a lady, who was courted by Dev Anand, respected by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, but feared by Lata Mangeshkar! That she was beautiful, talented, adored by millions, but died a lonely single woman? Or, that she was the best ever superstar singer-actress of Indian films, yet walked away to a self-imposed exile at the height of her glory? Yes, Suraiya was all this, plus 'a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma' who resolutely shunned screen and media once she departed from the arc lights."[177]

Suraiya's songs, as a tribute to her, are played every year on her birth anniversary, 15 June and her death anniversary on 31 January by Radio Sri Lanka (formerly Radio Ceylon), and are posted on YouTube by eraksoldies.[76][178] Radio Vividh Bharti, Mumbai has been playong her songs on her anniversary.[179]

Suraiya's interviews, features and booksEdit

During her lifetime

There have been numerous features and articles in various national magazines on Suraiya during her lifetime. Some of these magazines were 'The Illustrated Weekly of India', 'Stardust', 'Society', 'Star & Style' and 'Filmfare'. The details of available articles/references are as follows:

(1) 'Suraiya, yesterday and today' (six pages), a feature and interview by Raju Bharatan in the magazine 'The Illustrated Weekly of India' in the 25 November 1979 issue.[180]

(2) 'Why did Suraiya break Dev Anand's heart?', a feature and interview in the magazine 'Society' by Deepa Arora in the January 1982 issue.[181]

(3) 'Will Suraiya ever forget Dev Anand?', a feature and interview in the film magazine 'Stardust' in the June 1972 issue.[182]

(4) 'Suraiya on her co-artistes', in a film magazine in 1952.[183]

(5) 'Suraiya: A voice from the past', a feature and interview by Sheila Vesuna.[184][185]

(6) 'Dev Anand – Suraiya Love Story... in their own words', a feature and interview of both Suraiya and Dev Anand in 'Star and Style' by Sheila Vesuna, February, 1987.

(7) In Suraiya's interview in 'Nai Duniya' in the 1990 issue,[186] wherein she tells how her grandmother, who was opposing Suraiya and Dev Anand being alone for one and a half years, was by a ruse asked to go home from the sets to get Suraiya's necklace for continuity in a scene, so that the two could be alone in her make-up room. Also, she revealed that the real reason the grandmother opposed her marriage was that she was the main financial support of the family, by covering it up as a Hindu Muslim marriage factor, to which she was opposed. Suraiya also said that Kamini Kaushal, who was also in love with Dilip Kumar at that time, gave her a number of tips on where and how to meet Dev Anand.

Books on Suraiya

Although no major book has been written wholly about Suraiya, a number of books have been written in which Suraiya has come alive, featuring her in a major way in various chapters. Some of these books are:

(1) 'Naushadnama ; the life and music of Naushad' by Raju Bharatan

(2) 'A journey down melody lane' by Raju Bharatan

(3) 'Romancing with life' (Autobiography) by Dev Anand

(4) 'Counting my blessings' by B.K. Karanjia

Suraiya's speeches, audio interviews

(1) 'Suraiya-khushboo ka safar' (video) on YouTube, featuring Suraiya's speech on the inauguration of a retrospective of her films in March 1994[187][188][189][190]

(2) 'Suraiyaji in a radio program' (audio) on YouTube, featuring Suraiya's presentation of her film songs in Vividh Bharati (of All India Radio)[191]

(3) 'Suraiya talks about Khurshid Anwar' (audio), featuring Suraiya's interview about composer Khurshid Anwar[192]

(4) 'Lata Mangeshkar gets (Zee) Lifetime Achievement Award' from Suraiya (Video on YouTube) featuring Suraiya presenting the Zee TV award to Lata Mangeshkar[193]

(5) 'Amin Shayani Geetmala ki chaon mein'[194]

(6) 'Geetmala Ki Chhaon Mein with Ameen Sayani - Episode 6; Stars Interview Special'[195]

(7) 'VBS- 31 1 2016- Aaj Ke Fankar- Suraiya' contains an excerpt of Suraiya's interview with Vividh Bharti.[196]

Dev Anand remembers Suraiya

Dev Anand was emotionally involved with Suraiya from 1948 to 1951. He describes various facets of her personality in the following videos.

(1) 'Rendezvouz with Simi Garewal Dev Anand Part-1'[171] The TV interview of Dev Anand was conducted by Simi Garewal after Suraiya's death in 2004. Dev Anand comes out about their love-affair in a quite detailed way, and how he felt for Suraiya till her end. He said he did not go to meet her in her last days in the hospital, because he did not want to make a show of his sorrows. "Your sorrows are the citadels of your loneliness, not to be shared with the world." he said.

(2) Dev Anand remembered Suraiya in an interview with Karan Thapar in 'Face to Face' for BBC in 2002.[197] He said he was in totally in love with Suraiya. His affair with Suraiya refined him and made a man out of him. About the question on eloping with Suraiya, he said he did not favour elopement. If he had married, it would have been with consent of her family.

(3) In, possibly, his last interview on his birthday on 26 September 2011, Dev Anand said: if he cried for any girl in his life, it was Suraiya.[198]

Interest in Suraiya after her deathEdit

After her death on 31 January 2004, renewed interest in Suraiya's life and works has been evinced in the Indian sub-continent, and amongst the NRIs (non-resident Indians) and also non-resident Pakistanis. This is especially because of the tremendous reach of the internet, wherein her films, songs and her life history is easily available to the new and old generations alike. Her popularity can be gauged by the number of blogs coming up every year after her death. Also, various agencies and people, such as her film and song fans; recording companies, like Saregama; and DVD and film rights owning companies have uploaded her films, songs, her life history and photos on the internet at various web sites and platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest and Blogspot. She is still remembered as an actress who could carry a film on her own, and the hero was subjugated to a secondary position. An actress like Kangana Renaut has been compared to Suraiya, who could carry a film on her own, in 'The Times of India' in March 2017.[199]

Nick-names of SuraiyaEdit

While to her fans Suraiya was 'Suraiya' or 'Suraiyaji', her associates called her by different nicknames. Naushad called her 'Baby' or 'Surili'. To Dev Anand, she was either 'Suraiyana' or 'Suraiya', the director of her film Pyar Ki Jeet, O.P. Dutta called her 'Bano' and her neighbour, film journalist Raju Bhartan called her 'Sur'.


Suraiya acted in the following films, along with singing her own songs in most of them.[200] Three of Suraiya's films were left incomplete. Jaanwar with Dilip Kumar (early 50s) was abandoned by Suraiya, owing to misbehaviour with her by the lead actor, Dilip Kumar and producer director, K. Asif.[201][202] Pagalkhana (also, in early 50s), with Bharat Bhushan as lead actor, was abandoned by the producer director P.L. Santoshi after eight reels, because of financial constraints.[203] An English version of Wajid Ali Shah, starring Suraiya and Ashok Kumar in 1953, being filmed by British film director Herbert Marshall, was shelved after being made for some time.[204] A number of her films were announced with advertisements in film magazines, but were partially made or did not take off. These were Palken with Shekhar, to be produced and directed by Devendra Goel, for Goel Cine Corporation; Gumrah with Rehman (hero) by Globe Pictures, Bombay; Nigah with Naseer Khan (hero) by CB Films; Sanwri by Kundi Art Productions, produced and directed by Niranjan and Ching Chow with Ajit (hero) to be produced by Nigaristan (producers of Moti Mahal)[205]

Year Film Director Producer Role Cast Music Director Other notes (singing, others)
1936 Madam Fashion Jaddan Bai Sangam Films (Jaddan Bai) -- Jaddan Bai (Heroine), Baby Suraiya, Baby Rani (later Nargis), Nazmi Begum, Ansari (Hero), Aashiq Hussain, P. Bose, Misra, Yusuf, M.P. Sinha Jaddan Bai Child Artist
1937 Usne Kya Socha I. A. Hafesjee Imperial Film Ghaznavi, Jamshedji, Ratan Bai, W. M. Khan, Anant Kumar Marathe, Asuji, Mukhtar, Rustam Poonawala & Suraiya Child artist
1941 Taj Mahal Nanubhai Vakil Mohan Pictures Baby Mumtaz Kumar, Sarojini, S. Nazir (Hero), Suraiya, Indurani, Khalil, Ram Marathe, Mubarak Madhavlal Damodar Major break as a child artist
1942 Boot Polish (only sang a solo song, no acting) A.R.Kardar Circo Production no role (only playback singer) Jairaj, Shobhana Samarth Naushad Suraiya's first song 'Boot karon mai polish, babu'
1942 Station Master C.M. Luhar Prakash Usha Pratima Devi, Jagdish Sethi, Prem Adib (Hero), Jeevan, Umakant, Kaushalya, Shakir, Amirbai, Suraiya, Gulab, Ratnamala Naushad Supporting role—2 duets with Rajkumari Dubey---

Silver Jubilee film

Tamanna Phani Majumdar Laxmi Production Jagdish Sethi, Shanta Kumari, Jairaj, Leela Desai, K. C. Dey, Karan Dewan, Suraiya, Rani K.C. Dey Supporting role—Suraiya's first duet with Manna Dey 'Jago, jago aye usha' (Also Manna Dey's first film song in Hindi).
1942 Sharda A.R.Kardar Kardar Productions only as a playback singer for Mehtab Amir Banu, Shyam Kumar

Mehtab (Heroine)

Naushad Only as a playback singer-2 solos, 1 duet with Nirmala Devi
1943 Kanoon A. R. Kardar Kardar Productions only as a playback singer for Mehtab Shahu Modak, Mehtab (Heroine), Gajanan Jagirdar, Nirmala Devi, Ulhas and Badri Prasad, A. Shah, Jetha, Amirali, Amir Bano, Padma. Naushad Only as a playback singer—2 solos, 3 duets with Shyam Kumar
1943 Sanjog A.R. Kardar Kardar Productions only as a playback singer for Mehtab Noor Mohammad 'Charlie', Mehtab (Heroine), Anwar Hussain, Ulhas, Wasti, Raj Kumari, Shukal Chanda Bai Ghulam Mohammad, Naushad Only as singer—3 solos, 2 duets with Noor Mohammad Charlie
1943 Ishara J. K. Nanda D. R. D. Production Suraiya, Jagdish Sethi, Pratima Devi, K. N. Singh, Prithviraj Kapoor (Hero), Swarnalata (Heroine), Suraiya, Satish, Vatsala Kumtekar, Masood Khurshid Anwar co-star---2 solos
Humari Baat M. I. Dharamsey Bombay Talkies Arun Kumar, Kamta Prasad, Dulari, Suraiya, Devika Rani (Heroine), David Abraham, Shah Nawaz, Raj Kapoor, Prabha, Mumtaz Ali, Jairaj (Hero) Anil Biswas Supporting role—4 duets with Arun Kumar Mukherjee
1945 Yateem Zia Sarhady Gautam Chitra E. Billimoria, Chandraprabha (Heroine), Yakub, Suraiya, Uday Kumar (Hero), Bhudo Advani, David Abraham, Lalita Pawar, Charlie Khurshid Anwar Supporting role
Tadbir Jayant Desai Jayant Desai Production Sugana Rehana, Jilloo Maa, K. L. Saigal (Hero), Mubarak, Suraiya (Heroine), Salvi, Rewa Shankar, Shashi Chand Kapoor (Sr.), Shalini Lal Mohammed Heroine—3 solos, 2 duets with K.L. Saigal
Samrat Chandragupta Jayant Desai Jayant Desai Production Ishwarlal (Hero), Mubarak, Nayampally, Renuka Devi (Heroine), Suraiya, Sulochana Chatterji C. Ramchandra Supporting role---3 solos
Phool K. Asif Famous Pictures Shama Wasti, Veena, Suraiya (Heroine), Prithviraj (Hero), Yakub, Dixit, Ashraf Khan, Agha, Mazhar Khan, M. Esmail, Jilloo Maa, Sitara Devi, Durga Khote Ghulam Haider Heroine—3 solos
1945 Main Kya Karoon Sudhir Sen Flora Pictures Shah Nawaz, Suraiya, Pahari Sanyal, Hansa Wadkar, Bikram Kapoor, E. Billimoria Ninu Majumdar co-star---3 solos and 2 duets with Hamida Banu
1946 Shama (only recorded disc versions for actress Mehtab at her request. Did not act in the film) Sibtain Fazli Minerva Movietone (Producer: Sohrab Modi) Mehtab, Ulhas, Wasti, Anwari, Prakash, Jafri Begum, Amir Bano, Sadat Ali, Chanda Ghulam Haider 3 solos (record versions for Mehtab)
1946 Jag Biti M. Sadiq Din Pictures Suraiya, Shakir, Sulochana Chatterji (Heroine), Abbas, Himalayawala, Bibi, Sadiq Ali Ghulam Haider co-star—3 solos
1857 Mohan Sinha Muarai Pictures Wasti, Surendra (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Nigar, Madan Puri, Leela, Menaka, Ganju, Munshi Khanjar, Laxmi, Suraiya, Shakir, Sulochana Chatterji, Abbas, Himalayawala, Bibi, Sadiq Ali Sajjad Hussain Heroine—4 solos and 1 duet with Surendra
Anmol Ghadi Mehboob Khan Mehboob Production Basanti Surendra (Hero), Noorjahan (Heroine), Suraiya (Co-Heroine), Zahur Raja, Leela Misra, Anwari, Bhudo Advani, Murad, Amir Banu Naushad co-star with Noor Jehan--- 3 solos ---Diamond Jubilee film
Omar Khaiyyam Mohan Sinha Muarai Pictures Suraiya (Heroine), K.L. Saigal (Hero), Wasti, Benjamin, Shakir, Leela, Madan Puri, Muzammil Lal Mohammed Heroine---4 solos
1947 Parwana J.K. Nanda Jeet Productions Gopi K. N. Singh, K. L. Saigal (Hero), Suraiya (heroine), S. Nazir, Azurie, Najam Khurshid Anwar Heroine---4 solos
Natak S.U. Sunny Kardar Productions Pratima Devi, Amar (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Sofia, Kanwar, Shyam Kumar, Amir Ali, Nazir Vedi, Nawab, Suleman Naushad Heroine---5 solos, one duet with Amar

Silver Jubliee hit

Do Dil Jagdish Sethi Jamana Production Badri Prasad, Motilal, Suraiya (Heroine), Karan Dewan (Hero), Gulab Gobind Ram Heroine---4 solos, 2 duets with Mukesh
Dard A.R. Kardar Kardar Productions Pratima Devi, Badri Prasad, Husn Banu, Munawwar Sultana (Heroine), Nusrat (Hero), Suraiya (Co-Heroine), Shyam Kumar (Villain) Naushad Co-star with Munnawar Sultana---4 solos, one duet with Uma Devi---Silver Jubilee film
Dak Bangla M. Sadiq Indian National M. Esmail, Suraiya (Heroine), Gope, Kamal Kapoor (Hero), Wasti Naresh Bhattacharya Heroine---4 solos, 1 duet with Mukesh, 1 duet with Indrabadan Bhatt
1948 Aaj ki Raat D.D Kashyap Famous Pictures Motilal (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Yakub, Leela Misra, Raj Mehra, Anita Sharma, Sangeeta, Shah Nawaz Husnlal Bhagatram Heroine---5 solos, 2 duets with G M Durrani
Vidya G. Tripathi Jeet Pictures Vidya Suraiya (Heroine), Maya Banerji, Gulam Mohamed, Madan Puri, Amibai Karnataki, Cuckoo, Munshi Khanjar, Dev Anand (Hero) S.D. Burman Heroine---4 solos, 1 duet with Mukesh
Shakti S.I. Hasan Greater Bombay Pictures Kailash, Karan Dewan (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Sofia, Maya Devi, Seeta Bose, Cuckoo, Mumtaz Ali, Murad Ram Prasad Heroine---4 solos
Rang Mahal Pandit Anand Kumar Eastern Pictures Suresh (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Anant Marathe, Lalita Pawar, Shah Nawaz K. Datta Heroine---2 solos, 1 duet with Suresh
Pyar Ki Jeet O.P. Dutta Famous Pictures Gyani, Rehman (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Gope, Raj Mehra, Manorama, Leela Misra, Yashodhara Katju, Niranjan Sharma Husnlal Bhagatram Heroine---3 solos, 2 duets with Meena Kapoor and Surinder Kaur---Hit film
Kajal M.Sadiq Ratan Pictures

(Malika Pukhraj)

Suraiya (Heroine), Jayant (Hero), Gope, Sharda, Ram Kamlani, Cuckoo, Wasti, Amir Banu Ghulam Mohammed 4 solos, 1 duet with Rafi
Gajre R.D.Mathur Ailled Art Production Motilal (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Agha, Nihal, Sangeeta, Geeta Nizami, Sankatha Prasad, Murad Anil Biswas Heroine---4 solos
1949 Singaar J.K. Nanda Haldia Nanda Production Jairaj (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Madhubala, Madan Puri, Randhir, K. N. Singh, Durga Khote Khurshid Anwar Heroine---4 solos, 1 duet with Surinder Kaur
Shair Chawla Jagat Pictures Vidya Cuckoo, Dev Anand (Hero), Kamini Kaushal, Murad, Suraiya (Heroine), Agha, Sulochana, Shyama, Dulari Ghulam Mohammed Heroine—5 solos
Naach Ravindra Dave Kuldip Pictures Shyam (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Kuldip, Raj Mehra, Gulab, Yashodhara Katju, Sofia, Shyama, Wasti, Om Prakash Husnlal Bhagatram 5 solos, 1 duet with Rafi
Lekh G. Rakesh Liberty Art Production Anand Pal, Cuckoo, Motilal (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Ishu, Jagirdar, Sitara Devi Krishan Dayal 4 solos, 1 duet with Mukesh
Jeet Mohan Sinha Raj Kriti Chitra Jeet Shree Bhagwan, Durga Khote, Dev Anand (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Kanhaiyalal, Madan Puri, Suraiya Choudhary, Habib Anil Biswas 5 solos, 1 duet with Shankar Dasgupta, 1 duet with Geeta Dutt, Vinod
Duniya S.F Hussain Fazli Bros Anwari, Karan Dewan (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Yakub, Bhudo Advani, Shakila, Zubeida, Jankidas C. Ramchandra 7 solos, 1 duet with Rafi
Dillagi A.R. Kardar Kardar Production Chandabai, Amir Banu, Shyam (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Sharda, Amar Naushad 6 solos, 1 duet with Shyam Kumar (singer, co- actor, not hero Shyam (this film)---Silver Jubilee film
Char Din M. Sadiq Ratan Pictures Badri Prasad, Om Prakash, Shyam (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Jayant, Randhir, Mohana, Shyama, Cuckoo Shyam Sunder 5 solos
Balam Homi Wadia Wadia Movietone Wasti (Hero), Nigar Sultana, Suraiya (Heroine), Masood, Jayant, Agha Husnlal Bhagatram 4 solos, 1 duet with Lata, 1 duet with Rafi
Badi Behen D.D. Kashyap Famous Pictures Suraiya (Heroine), Ulhas, Gulab, Roop Kamal, Tabassum, Shanti Madhok, Niranjan Sharma, Ram Avtaar, Geeta Bali, Pappu, Rehman (Hero), Pran Husnlal Bhagatram 4 solos---Hit film
Amar Kahani Baij Sharma Kamal Kunj Chitra Jairaj (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Mehta, Ranjana Husnlal Bhagatram 6 solos
1950 Shaan Jayant Desai Kuldip Pictures Pratima Devi, Cuckoo, Suraiya (Heroine), Sapru, Manorama, David Abraham, Rehman (Hero) Hansraj Behl 4 solos, 2 duets with Rafi
Nilli Ratibhai Punatkar Ranjit Film Company Vidya Suraiya (Heroine), Agha, Shyama, Dulari, Cuckoo, Dev Anand (Hero) S. Mohinder 6 solos, 1 duet with G.M. Durrani
Khiladi Talwar Talwar Films Ashok Kumar (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Kumar, Indu, E. Tarapore, Anoop Kumar, Narbada Shanker, Sunder, Cuckoo Hansraj Behl 4 solos, 2 duets with Rafi
Kamal Ke Phool D.D. Kashyap Famous Pictures Badri Prasad, Suraiya (Heroine), Jeevan, Raj Mehra, Leela Misra, Niranjan Sharma, Shakuntala, Amarnath (Hero) Shyam Sunder 5 solos
Dastan A.R. Kardar Musical Pictures Pratima Devi, Raj Kapoor (Hero), Al Nasir, Murad, Suraiya (Heroine), Veena, Suresh, Shakila Naushad 6 solos, 3 duets with Rafi—Silver Jubilee film
Afsar Chetan Anand Nav Ketan Rashid Khan, Suraiya (Heroine), Manmohan Krishna, Kanhaiyalal, Krishna Dhawan, Zohra Sehgal, Anand Pal, Dev Anand (Hero) S.D. Burman 5 solos, 1 duet with Geeta Dutt
1951 Shokiyan Kidar Sharma Ambitious Pictures Nazira, Shanta Kanwar, Premnath (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Jeevan, Kamlesh, Achla Sachdev, Rajendra Vyas, Ramesh Sinha Jamal Sen 3 solos, 1 duet with Lata
Sanam Nandlal Jaswantlal United Technicians Vidya Jilloo Maa, Pratima Devi, Suraiya (Heroine), Gope, Meena Kumari, Dev Anand (Hero), K. N. Singh Husnlal Bhagatram 4 solos, 2 duets with Rafi, 1 duet with SD Batish, 1 trio with Shamshad and SD Batish, 1 duet with Lata
Rajput Lekhraj Bhakri Jubilee Pictures Shakuntala, Jairaj (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Sapru, Kuldip Kaur, Mumtaz, Maruti, Randhir Hansraj Behl 4 solos
Do Sitare D.D. Kashyap Famous Pictures Suraiya (Heroine), Kuldip Kaur, Mumtaz, Baij Sharma, Prem Nath, Dev Anand (Hero), Shakuntala Anil Biswas 4 solos
1952 Resham Lekhraj Bhakri Jubilee Pictures Sunder, Jairaj (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Sapru, Naaz, Achla Sachdev, Khurshid, Ramesh Thakur, Jagdish Hansraj Behl 4 solos
Moti Mahal Ravindra Dave Nigaristan Films Vidya Ajit (Hero), Veera, Suraiya (Heroine), Jeevan, Tabassum, Satish Hansraj Behl 3 solos, 1 duet with Shamshad begum
Lal Kunwar Ravindra Dave Nigaristan Films Nasir Khan (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Jairaj, Usha Kiran, Agha, Durga Khote S.D. Burman 4 solos
Khubsoorat S.F. Hussain Fazli Bros. Nasir Khan (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Yakub, Bhudo Advani, Zubeida, Jankidas Madan Mohan 4 solos
Goonj Phani Majumdar Kwarta Art Production Bhagwan, Suresh (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Sapru, Majnu, Madan Puri, Randhir, Ravikant Sardul Sharma 5 solos, 1 duet with Rafi
Diwana A.R. Kardar Kardar Production Suresh (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Sumitra Devi, Shyam Kumar, Ramesh, Madan Puri, Banerjee, Amirbai Karnataki, Amir Ali Naushad 4 solos, 1 duet with Lata—Silver Jubilee film
1953 Mashuqa Shanti Kumar Chitrakar Suraiya (Heroine), Agha, Kuldip Kaur, Durga Khote, Amirbai Karnataki, Mukesh (Hero) Roshan 4 solos, 2 duets with Lata
1954 Mirza Ghalib Sohrab Modi Minerva Movietone Bharat Bhushan (Hero), Murad, Durga Khote, Jagdish Sethi, Suraiya (Heroine), Nigar Sultana, Mukri, Baij Sharma, Kumkum, Sadat Ali, Iftekhar, Roshan Ghulam Mohammed 5 solos, 1 duet with Talat
Bilwamangal D.N. Madhok Minar Movies Vidya C.H. Atma (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Nirupa Roy, Ulhas, Asha Mathur Bulo C Rani 5 solos, 2 duets with C.H.Atma
Waris Nitin Bose Minerva Movietone Shobha Jagdish Sethi, Suraiya (Heroine), Talat Mehmood (Hero), Nadira, Sadat Ali, Meheli Modi, Yakub, Achla Sachdev, Roopmala Anil Biswas 3 solos, 4 duets with Talat
Shama Parwana D.D. Kashyap Kashyap Production Shammi Kapoor (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Roop Mala, Ulhas, Sunder, Mubarak Husnlal Bhagatram 4 solos, 3 duets with Rafi, 1 duet with Asha
1955 Kanchan Baij Sharma Kamal Kunj Chitra Jairaj (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Mehta, Ranjana Husnlal Bhagatram 6 solos
Inam M.I. Dharamsey Zodiac Pictures Pratima Devi, Nasir Khan (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Yakub, Bimla Kumari, Mukri S. N. Tripathi 3 solos, 1 duet with Mohantara Ajinkya
1956 Mr. Lambu N.A.Ansari Sheikh Mukhtar Bhagwan, Helen, Sheikh Mukhtar (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Kamaljeet, Vijayalaxmi, N. A. Ansari, Minoo Mumtaz O.P.Nayyar 2 solos, 1 duet with Rafi
1958 Trolly Driver Gajanan Jagirdar Divya Jyot Production Rehman (Hero), Cuckoo, Pratima Devi, Bhagwan, Suraiya (Heroine), Jagirdar, Usha Kiran, Madan Puri Husnlal Bhagatram 2 solos, 1 duet with Rafi, 3 unavailable
Miss 1958 Kuldip Kahar A.K. Movies Om Prakash, Suraiya (Heroine), Karan Dewan (Hero), Madan Puri, Naaz, Krishna Kumari N. Dutta 1 solo
Malik S.M. Yusuf Sunny Art Productions Jagdeep, Lalita Pawar, Roopmala, Suraiya (Heroine), Talat Mehmood (Hero), Jeevan, Mukri, Radhakrishen, Kumar Ghulam Mohammed 1 solo, 2 duets with Talat
1958 Taqdeer (not her film)-- 2 songs sung by her for her earlier incomplete film. These were used by the music director and picturised on Shyama. A S Arora Neela Productions Karan Dewan (Hero), Shyama (Heroine), Asha Mathur, Madan Puri, Helen, S.K. Prem Dhani Ram

(Lyrics by Verma Malik)

2 songs; Hawa uda kar layi; and Bewafa kar ke jafa, sung by her for an incomplete film- used by MD in Taqdeer
1961 Shama Lekhraj Bhakri Tasveeristan Kumud Tripathi, Nimmi, Vijay Dutt (Hero)(Guru Dutt's brother), Suraiya (Heroine), Kumar, Kammo, Tarun Bose, Mumtaz Begum, Tuntun, Leela Misra, Renu Maker Ghulam Mohammed 3 solos
1963 Rustam Sohrab[206] Vishram Bedekar Ramsay Productions Murad, Prithviraj Kapoor (Hero), Suraiya (Heroine), Premnath (Co-Hero), Mumtaz, Azad, Merlyn, Hiralal, P. Kailash, Sajjan Sajjad Hussain 1 solo, her last song ('Yeh kaisee ajab dastan ho gayi hai')


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