Remembering Suraiya on her 13th death anniversary.

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Suraiya Jamaal Sheikh (15 June 1929–31 January 2004) was an Indian Muslim Hindi/Hindustani film actress and playback singer in Bollywood in the 1940s to 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. Till 1943, as a child singer, Suraiya gave play-back 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 as a heroine after 1946 till 1963. From 1948 to 1950, she became the singing superstar of Bollywood, earning the highest amount for her performances, over all the performing actors of the times, male or female, including Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Nargis and Madhubala. She was the only child of her parents. She had a natural talent for singing, acting and dancing from childhood. She got basic music training in childhood, when her mother used to take her to Hindustani music trainer 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 a most successful singing film star. She first sang for a children’s program for All India Radio in 1937. She had received training in dancing from Mumtaz Ali, dancer-actor and father of famous comedian, Mehmood. 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, Dastan). 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’. Suraiya in her hey days 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.

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Celebrating Cinema

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