Noor Jehan: The impeccable Melody Queen of South Asia

Remembering the Extraordinary life of Noor Jehan

Google has honored Noor Jehan; one of the greatest voices in the history of South Asia’s music with a beautiful doodle on her 91st birthday proving that “her legend will live forever.” Allah Rakhi Wasai was born on 21st September 1926 in Kasur into a family of professional musicians and later emerged as the undisputed melody Queen of South Asia Noor Jehan. Allah Rakhi  Wasai ‘s parents, on realizing their daughters unmatchable singing talent approached Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan who began imparting her formal music training. During her childhood days Allah Rakhi Wasai came to the culturally rich city of Lahore and became associated with the Aziz Theater. One of the initial breakthroughs in the little Allah Rakhi Wasai’s music life was her being noticed by a talent hunt team from Calcutta. Back in the day Calcutta was considered to be the focal point of the Indian Theater. Allah Rakhi Wasai‘s parents approached Seth Karnani the owner of one of the biggest theaters in Calcutta city where she was introduced to the great Mukhtar Begum. Allah Rakhi Wasai owing to her unparalleled singing talent greatly impressed Mukhtar Begum who gave her the title Noor Jehan.  After her marriage to Shaukat Hussein Rizvi she moved to Bombay and began working as a leading lady in films besides rendering countless beautiful songs. Some of her popular films in the Indian cinema were Khandan, Naukar, Dost, Zeenat, Village girl, Anmol Ghadi and Jugnu. At the time of partition of India, Noor Jehan migrated to Pakistan and moved to the city of Lahore leaving behind her fully furnished luxurious house. Noor Jehan due to her unprecedented singing contributions during the 1965 war acquired the title Malqa –e Taranam Noor Jehan. Owing to her support for the armed forces by visiting the border and rendering patriotic songs Noor Jehan became a symbol of national pride. The government of Pakistan on recognition of her acting and singing capabilities bestowed upon her Pakistan’s President Award.

Despite having a thriving music career filled with glitz and glamour Noor Jehan always managed to spend quality time with her children. Her daughters recall their mother as being one of the best cooks they had ever come across.  Noor Jehan had an extraordinary dressing sense and had a huge collection of saris besides tremendous love for diamonds. Her perfect sense of style and fashion made her one the biggest style icons of the country.  Noor Jehan was fond of Urdu poetry and was one of the biggest admirers of Ghalib and Faiz Ahmad Faiz.  Due to her compassionate nature she would distribute meals to the poor every Thursday. Dr. Omer Adil in a television program disclosed that one of Noor Jehan’s songs was selected by the Arts Council Pakistan for a global competition by Yamaha Japan. A few days later the organizers of the competition sent a letter to the Arts Council Pakistan saying that the flawless voice of Noor Jehan was unmatchable to be included in a competition. Later Noor Jehan was invited to Japan and was asked to sing in the same competition as the organizers wanted to admire her melodious voice.  The Legendary Lata Mangheskar one of the biggest voices of India has always been an ardent admirer of Noor Jehan’s singing. Noor Jehan had rendered hundreds of beautiful songs flawlessly which made her one of the unforgettable voices of Pakistan. Noor Jehan had rendered some 10, 000 songs in various regional languages of Pakistan with the inclusion of Persian. Madam Noor Jehan was an artist of genius who had a flair for Faiz’s poetry therefore her rendition of Mujhese Pehli se Mohabbat has made it a timeless song. Noor Jehan had millions of admirers across the world and received thousands and thousands of letters from her admirers during her lifetime. Even after her death she is remembered with great fondness by her admirers around the world and celebrities especially on her birthday.  Damon Wake a Journalist in Brussels twitted “If you haven’t heard any Noor Jehan, do yourself a favor and look her up.” Today all T.V channels in Pakistan are paying their profuse tributes to iconic singer of all times whose songs have become immortal even after her absence. Famous Film director Syed Noor remembers her as a special gift from God which will live forever. Her contributions to the music industry resulted in the building of studios and song productions. She shall always be remembered for being Pakistan’s first ever female film director.

During her Life time Noor Jehan became a recipient of many awards including the life time achievement award. Even after her death she was awarded a life time achievement award owing to her extraordinary music career.

  One of the unfulfilled desires of Noor Jehan was to build a hospital therefore she tremendously participated in Shuakat Khannum’s fund raisers. Noor Jehan passed away on the 23rd December 2000 due to heart failure after a prolonged illness. Thousands of mourners gathered at her funeral to pay their last tributes to the legendry singer. She will always be remembered for being one the greatest voices of South Asia and a true gem of our society.



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