Runa Laila’s favourite song remains the first ghazal she sang

Runa Laila’s favourite song remains the first ghazal she sang

The Bangladeshi singer’s repertoire includes covers of Mehdi Hassan
07 Dec, 2015

Runa Laila sang everything between pop and devotional, but she began her career with a *ghazal.*

The track 'Unki Nazron Se Mohabbat Ka', sung for the Pakistani film Hum Dono (1966) at the age of 14, showcased Laila’s young, trained and promising voice. The song’s success sent out a clear message about the growth of the child artist, and the maturity of her voice put her in the same bracket of experienced singers such as Noor Jehan.

Laila became a sensation across the subcontinent in 1972 when she sang 'Mera Babu Chhail Chabeela' for the Pakistani movie Mann Ki Jeet. The hugely popular song made a reappearance in the Hindi film Ghar Dwaar (1985).

Born in Sylhet in Bangladesh in 1952, Laila was trained by her parents to be a dancer. Singing happened by accident, while she was learning kathak and bharat natyam. “My elder sister Dina was learning classical music. I picked up whatever she was taught quite easily and her teacher decided to teach me too,” Laila said in an interview. “My father, Syed Mohammed Imdad Ali was a civil servant posted in Karachi. My sister and I went to school there and she was selected to represent the school at an inter-school competition. On the day of the competition, Dina developed a sore throat so my parents made me participate instead. I won the competition...”

Laila began visiting India in 1974 and was soon singing for many music composers. Jaidev was impressed with the quality of her voice, which differed from the Mangeshkar sisters who had monopolised playback singing. He gave her a chance to sing for Doordarshan. The movie Gharonda (1977), for which he composed the music, had two tracks by Runa Laila, both of which remain popular: 'Tumhe Ho Na Ho' and 'Do Deewane Sheher Mein'.

For all her diverse experience, the ghazal form has been closest to Laila, and she holds the Guinness world record for the maximum number of recordings in a single day. “Concorde Records wanted me to rerecord the album Ghazal Aur Geet, which was originally recorded in Karachi, ” Laila told Filmfare. “We recorded 30 songs in three days at Western Outdoors. I remember Daman Sood was the recordist. These weren’t live recordings in the true sense. We could take breaks but yes, it was with live musicians.”

She considers her version of Mehdi Hassan covers her favourite. Laila has studied music from Ghulam Qadir, who was Mehdi’s elder brother. Qadir had also composed music for Hassan's ghazals. Laila learnt from Qadir the art of rendering a ghazal as well as of conveying the melancholic mood of such songs as Ranjish hi sahi with the same passion as Hassan.

Of all her songs, her favourite still remains her first ghazal, which she prefers to include in her live performances. It simply gets richer with age.

This article was originally published at, and has been reproduced with permission.


Rajib Ismail Dec 07, 2015 07:49pm
Runa Laila , the daughter of red-green Bangladesh is the true living legendery singer of world of music sung some memorable songs of Urdu, Hindi & Bangla having typical sweet , melodious as well as powerful voice that touches the hearts of millions of her fans around the world. Bangladesh can feel proud of her daughter who won the hearts of millions that crosses the boundaries beyond any limit & barriers.....
abid hussain Dec 07, 2015 08:41pm
Runa Laila was great. She should use music to bring down the vindictive attitude of the BD govt.
Dr Riffat Jabeen Dec 07, 2015 09:07pm
Very sweet, melodious and lively voice. Song is as fresh as ever.
Adnan Mazher Khan Dec 07, 2015 09:25pm
@Rajib Ismail . . Please appreciate that remember that Runa Laila was born before 16 December 1971 and therefore she is a Pakistani by birth. Secondly, she is a wonderful lady and equally wonderful singer. Music has no boundaries. Your post is in bad taste and miscalculated. If at all, she is first daughter of a Crescent and a Star.
BD Mukul Dec 07, 2015 09:32pm
Marvelous Runa. We are proud of you.
Altaf Hussain, Mumbai Dec 07, 2015 10:17pm
In my opinion 'damadam mast kalandar'' is her best. ''Mera babu chail chabila' was also a big hit but no match of 'damadam'!
Yasir Dec 07, 2015 11:49pm
@Altaf Hussain, Mumbai Agreed AH she out did NoorJhan sahiba in that song. She sang with ,so much intensity and passion
a Dec 08, 2015 12:13am
Tumhein ho Na ho, mujhko to
sami Dec 08, 2015 12:22am
We will always think of you, Runa Laila, as our daughter of Pakistan!
Bupi Dec 08, 2015 02:43am
@sami Sorry was & is of Bangladesh. Be realistic. Personalities like her are of Humanity.
Mahan Dec 08, 2015 02:47am
@Rajib Ismail Agree.
Mahan Dec 08, 2015 02:48am
She probably is the only person claimed to be their own by all the three neighbors.
Raviraj Rohini Dec 08, 2015 04:17am
Mumbai looked so nice in the Gharonda film song. That was a great film with Amol Palekar, Zarina Wahab and Dr. Shreeram Lagoo and lovely song by Runa Laila.
abdul durrani Dec 08, 2015 06:09am
@Adnan Mazher Khan Runa Laila was born way before 1971, these dates are totally wrong. She was certainly born in 1960 , she is close to 60 Plus years. She has married four times to my knowledge.
khan in chandler Dec 08, 2015 08:06am
i was in l love with her voice when i was a kid in karachi, and still in love with her voice after all these years in usa. sweet laila, you always will be in my heart.
Zak Dec 08, 2015 06:28pm
Runs Laila studied in Kinnaird college , Lahore. She was a sensation in her singing. She is universal.
al amin diltu Dec 09, 2015 12:31am
Very sweet, melodious and lively voice. Song is as fresh as ever.Runa Laila was great
Rajib Ismail Dec 09, 2015 07:01am
@Adnan Mazher Khan Runa Laila was born in 1952 in Sylhet of the then East Pakistan and went to west Pakistan at her very early age as her father posted there who was a civil servant and recieved her schooling as well as started her musical career in Pakistani Films . Later she has sung in about 17 languages including her mother tongue Bengali that makes tremendous popularity among the music lovers especially in the subcontinental region I'd say.
MUHAMMAD AKRAM Dec 09, 2015 03:14pm
@Adnan Mazher Khan Let us not get into this kind of discussion. Runa Laila, undoubtedly, singing undoubtedly brings happiness to all, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Indians.