Surraiya – You can’t be oblivious to her golden voice

 

Suraiya

Suraiya

Surraiya Jamal Sheikh – a dark plain looking girl whose voice tickles the memories and an actress who left her indelible imprints on our mental screens. She was the most graceful and best dressed lady of yester years’ silver screen.

SURRAIYA – A name that needs no introduction, a voice that tickles the memories, an actress that left her indelible imprints on the mental screen and a graceful deity.

Imagine a soft transparent evening, sitting alone in a pensive mood in the abstract silence of your apartment, watching the yonder sunset; a twittering bird hopping aimlessly on the branches of gold showering Amaltas and suddenly she is disturbed. She pulls herself together and sits silently outside your window. Down below, the bhaiya (brother) who was ironing the school dress puts on the radio and it plays: ‘socha tha kya, kya ho gaya….’ You know – Malika Surraiya is there, behind this magic, with her restrained emotive best from the filmAnmol Ghari. You become nostalgic; you yearn for something; you long for something; you miss something and you remember something.

Surraiya Jamal Sheikh – a dark plain looking girl, the only child of her parents from Gujranwala, Punjab (now in Pakistan). She was born on June 15, 1929.

Well versed in Persian and educated at Girls Night School in Bombay, she was introduced to film world by her uncle Zahoor, himself a popular villain and actor of his time. He took her to Mohan Studio, Andheri to see the shooting of  Taj Mahal to be directed by Nanubhai Vakil. The director looked at her and gave her a break as heroine of Taj Mahal without screen test.Naushad heard her at a Children’s programme at All India Radio and introduced her as a singer inSharda in 1942.

Very few know that she was not a trained singer from any gharana. Mehboob Khan spotted her talents and presented her as heroine in his classical films: Anmol Ghari (1945) and Dard (1946).KL Saigal took her fancy and recommended her for Tadbeer in 1945. He worked with her in Omar Khayyam in 1946.Surraiya had her most critical learning time with Sajjad Hussain, the elusive and eccentric music maestro who had given the polish to Noor Jehan’s singing style and Lata Manegeshkar had always referred him as her loving masterji who had taught Lata how to breathe during singing. He taught her how to make the correct pronunciations of Urdu words.Man mor hua matwala… the unforgettable song of Afsar still retains its freshness as it were the first day it was sung.

1947 to 52, was the golden period of her life. Noor Jehan and Khursheed Banu had left for Pakistan, Lata was still coming out of the tunes of Noor Jehan and Surriaya was reining supreme as highest paid actress and singer of Bollywood.

She was an empress who did never allowed her subjects to touch her feet or come closer. Dev Anand was the only lucky man upon earth who had the access and as the story goes, offered her the ring. That ring was thrown into the sea of Marine Drive at the instruction of her grand-mother. Surraiya never allowed anyone to talk upon her personal life. She rarely attended the film parties and never gave interviews. She never married.

She was the most graceful and best dressed lady of the silver screen. According to the film critics of yester years, no one had a best taste and connoisseur of jewellery than her. She was a very lonely, aloof and private character – just out of the Dicken’s novel.

She maintained a safer distance as she died a lonely death in her palatial apartment at Marine Line on January 31, 2004, defining silently the rigid space even in her death.

 

Naim Naqvi

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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Of Queen and the Queens Way

She was a true British girl with a very methodical mind. We were together in a specialised institute at Oxford Street. Someone has said that fiction, as it does come from imagination of some fellow human being, does not have the same attraction.

PAST THE Big Ban, past the West Minister Bridge, take a left turn and down few steps – you are at the Queens Way. The very first thing you notice is the poem of an unknown poet inscribed in the middle of the road on the cobble stone.

I wonder thro each chartered street
Near where the chartered Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness marks of woe.
In every cry of every man
In every infants cry of fear
In every voice in every ban
The mind-forged mangles I hear.

That was the placid and pleasant spot where Rose Mann had invited me to spend our last evening in London together decades ago.
She was a true British girl with a very methodical mind. We were together in a specialised institute at Oxford Street. Someone has said that fiction, as it does come from imagination of some fellow human being, does not have the same attraction, because it is not true. To me truth is more appealing than fiction. Rose was a milky white brunette from Sussex and I was a sallow complexioned boy from Bombay. For some unknown reasons we developed liking for each other.
One day she quoted someone that when the oak tree is felled, the whole forest echoes with it. I refuted her argument by quoting the same writer – a hundred acorns are planted silently by some unnoticed breeze. That argument sealed our friendship and she invited me to join her at Hyde Park’s Speaker Corner next Sunday.

Days and nights went by in London as the time got wings. We didn’t know how far we had traveled till one day she asked an unexpected question – “Why do we care for each other so much?” I wanted to reply that because we love each other. I had lost my bearing with that question and I said that I didn’t know. I was nervous and perspiring that moment in that cozy winter day. She was somber and composed. “I shall tell you. You love me and want to marry me.” There was a pause after that.

I found no courage to pursue the subject any more. However, every Sunday she would come from Sussex to Turnham Green accommodation. We would spend the time together till 4 PM at any place of our predilection. Tempus fugit and the day arrived when I was going back to India with my Certificates minus Rose Mann.
“Would you like to join me at Queens Way, just on the other side of Thames?” She had invited me in unique British style that was exuding her superiority. It was an order that must be obeyed. “I am ready to go anywhere you want.” I replied but my self-confidence was badly missing.

That last rendezvous was fixed by Rose. I reached the corner of West Minister Bridge and she was there to welcome me. She had a shining packet containing a set fountain pen and ball pen.
“This pen-set is for you as you love writing and there is nothing powerful in the world than a pen. I wish you the best.”
“Rose, I got nothing for you as I could conceive nothing which corresponds your excellence.” I said.

“I want nothing. Just remember me.” She said in respectable tone.
We talked upon many subject including our future life. It was the first day and first time when I had tried to go fast on Rose.
“Rose do you know that there would always be a vacuum without you in life.”

“I shall miss you too.”
“How do you feel as I am departing?” I asked.
“Little relieved. You have achieved your goal and you have a bright future. Honey, We always knew – we were poles apart. It is better to love than get married. Had I married you today, I would be a stale dish tomorrow morning and that is what Bernard Shaw had said. Now, from now onwards, the sweet memories of the time we had together would give fragrance to our live till we die. So we will always be together. You know I’m British and it’s the true British love.”

Naim Naqvi

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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Jahan Ara: The maverick sufi princess

 

Jahanara

Jahanara

Jahan Ara Begum – the eldest daughter of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, can be seen as world’s first women’s right activist, who fought for human rights and the liberty of women. She was also the First Lady of State during Moghul regime.

LONG BEFORE the emergence of Gloria Steinem as women’s right activist and the coherent concept of liberation of women, there was a princess who had fought for human rights and liberty of women. Her name was Jahan Ara Begum – the eldest daughter of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal.

She was born on April 2, 1614. She was well versed in all branches of knowledge of her time. Her father had trusted her and considered her as one of the wisest adviser. She was only 17 when her mother died. The royal court accorded her the title of First Lady of State and she had successfully brought out the emperor and the state from the shock and mourning of Queen’s death.

During the struggle of power between Mogul scions, she had promised her support to Prince Darah Shikoh with one condition that he would repeal the inhuman order of disallowing the royal princess from marrying – a law initiated by Akbar. It was unfortunate for the country and for Jahan Ara both that Dara was defeated. Aurengzeb, as a shrewd strategist, did mend his fences with the elder sister and restored her title of first Lady of State. This title was taken back from her and given to Roshan Ara Begum, her younger sister.

Despite cordial relations with Aurengzeb, she preferred to stay in the prison of Agra Fort with her father till his death.

Jahan Ara agreed to give her support to Aurengzeb with only one condition that he would not levy the Jazia – the poll tax on non-Muslims. She had boldly argued the case and forced Aurengzeb to rescind that.

She had contributed in her own way in designing and developing the landscapes of Shah Jahanabad (Delhi) and Agra. Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi and Jama Masjid of Agra are her gifts to Indian history and public. She was the devout Murid (follower) of Nizamuddin Aulia and used to clean his grave with her silky hairs.

She died peacefully on September 16, 1681 and was buried in Nizamuddin Dargah complex.

Naim Naqvi

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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