There are some songs that will live with you during your life. This one created by Naushad and sung by Noor Jehan and Surendra in 1946 is like so for me. I enjoy it each time I hear it and always marvel at Noorjehan’s thick and husky Punjaban voice. Of recent, only one singer created such a tonal quality – it is Richa Sharma (try listening to her Zindagi mein koi kabhi aye na rabba – Musafir)..
The year was 1946, the film Industry was hard at work creating excellent B&W movies and a number of new heroes and heroines were coming to the forefront. Hema Malini was just born, Yusuf Khan (Dilip Kumar) was making his entrance into Bollywood, Suraiyah was making her mark, Lata Mangeshkar was just entering the scene, Naushad Ali was creating waves with his music and Madam Noor Jehan – Mallika e Tarannun (Queen of melodies) had not even started contemplating whether to remain in India or move to Pakistan…She was at that time an established singing - acting star, all of 20 years old, graced with stunning looks and a deep voice. Lata had just finished her first Hindi recording Paa Lagoon Kar Jori for Vasant Joglekar's Hindi movie, Aap Ki Seva Mein.
The World war had come to an end. Mehboob Khan’s movie Anmol Ghadi (Precious Watch) had been released with a star studded line up of singers Noor Jehan, Surraiya and Surendra with melodious music crafted by the maestro Naushad. In the movie Noor Jehan played the love triangle acting out the role of “Lata”. Anmol Ghadi had just rejuvenated the languishing career of actor-singer Surendranath B.A. LL.B. On another desk, Sir Cyril Radcliffe of the British government was hard at work, drawing the lines that would split the film industry and the country itself…He did not know about Noor Jehan , Lata Manageshkar or Yusuf Khan… they were deep in discussions with Gandhiji, Nehru and Krishna Menon about the various aspects of India’s independence.
The most memorable song in Anmol Ghadi was Awaz De kahan hai sung by Noor jehan and accompanied by Surendra with his soothing voice singing out the part Kismet Pe Chha Rahi Hai Kyon, Raat Ki Siyahi (siyahi BTW means darkness)…It also became a personal favorite of Noor Jehan over the years. The lines were written by Tanvir Naqvi who migrated to Pakistan as well.
Picture the recording - While recording Aawaz De Kahan Hai, they had only one microphone. So Noor would stand on one side, and Surendra Nath on the other. Surendra Nath her co star in the movie happened to be a very timid man. What Noor would do is sing her lines and instead of turning away, she would stare right into Surendra Nath's face, making him nervous. A thorough gentleman he was, but he could not take Noor Jehan's mischief in his stride! He could stand it no longer, so he went to Naushad and requested him to ask her to turn away once she finished singing her lines. She laughed and then did what Naushad asked her to do. Thus went the recording of this memorable song.
Noor Jehan moved to Pakistan with her husband Shaukat Rizvi in 1949 and after an active musical career, passed away in Dec 2000. Lata Mangeshkar stated, "Maine unke suron ki ungli pakad kar gana seekha hai," (I learned to sing by holding the fingers of her notes). Lata in a way even owed her entry into Mumbai filmdom to the two Noor Jehan numbers that she sung for her first audition. She always admired and respected Noor Jehan and Noor Jehan duly reciprocated. It was late in 1951 that Lata Mangeshkar, on a visit to Amritsar, approached the local authorities to arrange her meeting with Noor Jehan at the Wagah border. There they met on the fence, and talked of times gone by.
Anmol Ghadi (1946) – Aawaz De Kahan Hai
aawaz de kahaan hai, duniya meri jawan hai
aabaad mere dil mein ummeed ka jahaan hai
duniya meri jawan hai ...
aa raat jaa rahi hai, yu jaise chandani ki
baaraat ja rahi hai , chalne ko ab falak se
taaron ka kaarvaan hai , aaise mein tu kahaan hai
duniya meri jawaan hai ...
kismat pe chha rahi hai, kyon raat ki siyaahi
viran hai meri neenden , taaron se le gavaahi
barbaad main yahaan hoon , aabaad tu kahaan hai
bedard aasmaan hai ... duniya meri jawan hai
aawaz de kahaan hai ...
Trivia - Sour and oily food is death to a good throat - who doesn't know that? And yet Noor Jehan used to eat a lot of pickles. The interesting thing was that whenever she had a film song to record, she would eat a lot of pickles quite ritualistically, wash it down with ice-cool water, then reach over to the microphone. She said her voice was enlivened this way. Despite being deaf in one ear, Noor Jehan's voice and her music are immortal. Noorhehans name was actually Allah Wasai. Noorjehan never sang without receiving advance payment for her songs. Sonia who acted in Taj mahal and Khoya Khoya Chand is her granddaughter.
Naushad Saheb told Lata to imitate Noorjehan for the song 'Uthaye Ja Unke Sitam' Andaaz (1949), he said "Achha Latabai Ab Apni Pakistani Behen Ko Yaad Kar Ke Yeh Gaana Gayiega." Naushad’s foray into Malayalam cinema produced one movie in 1988 Dhwani - A popular number is Janaki Jaane rama (Solos sung by KJY and P Susheela).
Awaz de’s tune ‘inspired’ P Bhaskaran in the song Palazyiyaam Nilavil for the movie ‘Thiramaala’ sung by Kozhikode Abdul Khader & Shanta P Nair