Born in Lahore (now in Pakistan), Suraiya Jamal Sheikh began her career as a child artiste in Taj Mahal. Her musical talent was discovered by composer Naushad Ali, who got the 13 year old to sing in the film Sharada. The song was "Panchhi jaapeechhe raha hain bachpan." Suraiya's songs in such subsequent films as Sanjog and Station Master won critical acclaim.
Suraiya's style was best suited to feudal melodramas and historical films. In fact she excelled in such films as Mirza Ghalib and Phool. In 1946 Mehboob Khan's Anmol Ghadi was released. In this film she held her own against Melody Queen Noorjehan. Impressed with her rich emotive voice, K.L. Saigal recommended Suraiya as a co-star for Tadbir. She did two more films with Saigal after that, Omar Khayyam and Parwana.
Suraiya's career reached its peak in the late 1940s with a string of success such as Pyar Ki Jeet, Dillagi, and Badi Bahen. These films featured some of her most enduring songs: "Who paas rahen ya door rahen", "Tu mera chand main teri chandni", "Tere naino ne chori kiya", and "O door jaanewale." These years also saw Suraiya form a popular romantic team with Dev Anand. The two starred together in six films including Jeet, Do Sitare, and Afsar.
In 1954, Suraiya gave a memorable performance in Sohrab Modi's Mirza Ghalib. The film also saw her render the classics "Dil-e-nadaan tujhe hua kya hai", and "Yeh na tin banian kismat." She retired from films in the early 1960s, settling down to a solitary life in Mumbai.
After livinh for 75 years Suraiya breathed her last in the year 2004.
A filmography of Suraiya would include the following films:
Suraiya has also lent her voice in films like Sharada, Station Master, Tamanna and Sanjog.
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