Noor Jahan the Queen of Melody (Malika-e-Taranum )

By Mahjabeen Malik

Early Life

Noor Jahan was a prolific singer of Pakistan with a charming personality who ruled over the hearts of song lovers and lyric (ghazal) lovers. Her real name was Allah Wasai. She was born in a Muslim family on 21 September 1926. Her father’s name was Madad Ali and her mother name was Fateh Bibi. From the very childhood, she was keenly interested in singing, however, her mother sent her to have special training of classical songs to Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan who taught her in the tradition of famous music from Hindustani Gharana known as Patiyala and the classical forms of Thumari, Dhrupad, and Khayal.

She travelled her journey from Allah Wasai to Noor Jahan and became popular with her honorific title Malika-e-Taranum, the queen of melody. Her training as a singer started from the age of five under the supervision of Ustad Bade Ghulam Khan whereas at the age of nine she captured the attention of Punjabi musician Ghulam Ahmad Chishti who introduced her to the stage in Lahore. She was a Pakistani playback singer, blessed with ghazal singing and actress who started her work from British India (Calcutta) at the age of nine years as a child star and continued her art of singing in Pakistan; and she performed in films as well.

The First Female Film Director

In 1951, she became the first female film director for the film “Chann Vey. She had been serving for the film industry for more than 35 years. According to data, she mad around 40 films and sang almost 20,000 songs. And she sang a plethora of dual songs with Ahmad Rushdi for films.

She recorded about 10,000 songs in various languages including Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi and Sindhi. She had been a peerless voice in singing in Pakistan. Her career in singing continued till 6 decades and she had also been performing in films as a heroin

Noor Jahan was a very well dressed singer; she was renowned for her beautiful silken saris, bold eye-makeup diamond jewellery and distinctive hairstyle. Her style of singing was fantastic as she was used to making awe-inspiring vocal gestures and exciting expressions during singing any song or lyric.

In the early 1930s, the whole family of this child star was shifted to Calcutta on the invitation of a theatre owner Diwan Sardari Lal who was highly inspired by the enchanting voice of the baby girl. Her parents had to take this decision for the better future of their children. Allah Wasai and her two older sisters, Eiden Bai and Haider Bandi were introduced to film companies by Mukhtar Begum. She had also introduced them to her husband Agha Hashar Kashmiri who was the owner of the maiden theatre.

In Calcutta, two elder sisters of Allah Wasai got a job whereas on the stage Allah Wasai was named as Baby Noor Jehan. In 1935, Noor Jehan and her two sisters performed the role of actresses in a Punjabi film “Pind di Kuri” directed by K.D. Mehra . Noor Jehan also sang a song for the film “Langh aja patan chanaan da o yaar”. In 1936, she performed in a film “Missar Ka Sitara” and also sang songs for the movie In 1937, Noor Jehan also played the child role of Heer in the film “Heer-Sayyal”. In 1939 her song reached the height of popularity “Shala Jawani maney” from a Punjabi film Gul Bakawli Dalsukh Pancholi. She had been performing in films in Calcutta since 1938. In 1939, she came back to Lahore where a well-known director Ghulam Haider composed songs for Noor Jehan thus she promoted her to a great extent.

For the first time, she played the role of an adult in 1942 for the film “Khandan”. On the triumph of Khandan, she was called in Bombay with the director Syed Shaukat Hussain Rizvi where she sang with Shanta Apte in Duhai in 1943. From 1945 to 1947 Noor Jehan reigned on Indian Film Industry as a leading actress. She played central actress roles in films Chann Way (1951)Dopatta (1952) Paatey Khan (1955) Chhu Mantar (1958) Koel (1959).

Personal Life

After the shifting in Bombay, in 1944, Noor Jahan married to Shaukat Hussain Rizvi hailing from Azamgarh, UP, India. When Pakistan was born Shaukat Hussain Rizvi decided to shift in Pakistan, however, both husband-wife settled in Pakistan and they started their career in Pakistan. Unfortunately, their relationship ended in 1953 while the couple had three children: Zil-e-Huma, Akbar Hussain Rizvi and Asghar Hussain Rizvi.

In 1959, she tied a knot with Ejaz Durani, a film actor, in 1959. Unluckily, her second marriage couldn’t succeed as Ejaz Durani divorced her in 1970. Ejaz Durani fell in love with another film’s heroine Firdous and he got She had three children in her second marriage; Hina Durani, Nazia Ejaz Khan and Mina Hassan.

Noor Jahan bade farewell to film Industry in 1963 for the sake of her six children The name of her last film was Baaji. She worked in fourteen films out of which 10 are Urdu and 4 are Punjabi.  After quitting film Industry, she adopted the career of playback singing seriously. She had sung a plethora of duet with Ahmad Rushdi, Mehdi Hassan, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Massod Rana and Mujeeb Alam. One of her daughter Zil-e-Humma became a singer as she was inspired by her mother.

She had received many awards including Pakistan Pride of Performance award in 1965. Her popularity had reached at the height of the sky when she sang patriotic songs. She had good relations and understanding with many of her fellow singers. She had friendly relations with Lata Mangeshkar as well. Noor Jehan visited India in 1982 after shifting in Pakistan. She met with Indian Prime Minister Indra Gandhi in New Dehli and was warmly received by her previous co-stars Naushad, Daleep Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar in Bombay.


In 1986 she suffered from angina pectoris when she was on her tour to North America. At the age of 74, Noor Jehan had kicked the bucket on 23rd December 2000 ( 27thof Ramadan) when she was hospitalized in Karachi.  Her dead body was buried in Karachi graveyard.