The world may be remembering Queen Elizabeth but we’re celebrating our queen, the Queen of Melody, Madam Noor Jehan, who would have celebrated her 96th birthday today.
Pakistan’s Queen of Melody began her musical journey at the young age of six and is still cherished around the world for her songs, movies and iconic style.
Born in Kasur to a family of musicians, she started her career after her family’s move to Calcutta where she received musical training and became a child star in Urdu and Punjabi movies. In 1947, Noor Jehan moved to Pakistan, after which she acted in a series of films and even directed one, Chanway.
After a long and celebrated career, Madam Noor Jehan passed away in 2000 at the age of 74 from sudden heart failure. Today we remember her with five of our favourite songs.
‘Main Te Mera Dilbar’
Noor Jehan’s ‘Main Te Mera Dilbar’ was released as part of the 1981 film Sala Sahib. Over 40 years after its release, the song is still on the top of our playlist of Pakistani songs that will never lose their charm.
‘Sannu Nair Wale Pull’
A favourite when the mic is passed around at a musical or ghazal night, this song is an absolute classic.
‘Zaalima Coca Cola’
‘Zaalima Coca Cola’ from the film Chan Te Surma is an iconic Pakistani pop song. It was recently recreated for a Hindi film Bhuj starring Ajay Devgn and Nora Fatehi but the new song doesn’t hold a candle to Madam Noor Jehan’s original.
‘Mujhse Pehli Si Muhabbat’
‘Mujhse Pehli Si Muhabbat’ holds the distinction of being a revolutionary song. Originally written by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Noor Jehan sang it at Faiz’s request to celebrate his release from prison. Faiz would later credit her as the co-author of his poem because he believed no one could sing it with such perfection.
Like many of her other hits, ‘Chandni Raatein’ was also featured in a film — Hindi film Dupatta in 1952 in which she also acted. It speaks of waiting on someone for whom you have cried for nights while the rest of the world sleeps peacefully.
Though it has been 22 years since she died and many, many more since these songs were written and sung, Noor Jehan’s remains timeless, something that resonates today as strongly as it did when it was first released.