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Suraiya Jamaal Sheikh (June 15, 1929 - January 31, 2004) was a singer and actress in Indian films, and was popularly known as Suraiya in the film industry. She became a superstar in the 1940s and 50s during the time when actors sang their own songs. Her singing career found a mentor in music maestro Naushad. Naushad heard her on the radio and chose her to sing as a 13 year old for Mehtaab in Kardar's Sharda (1942).

Suraiya was romantically involved with actor Dev Anand and the two of them did six films together between 1948 and 1951. During the shooting of a song, a boat capsized and Dev Anand saved Suraiya from drowning. She fell in love with him but her grandmother opposed the relationship. Suraiya remained unmarried all her life until her death in 2004.


Suraiya was born as Suraiya Jamaal Sheikh on June 15, 1929 in Gujranwala, Punjab and was the only child of her parents. She was a dark plain looking girl and was not trained in music, however she went on to become a successful actress and singer. She had been educated in New Girls' High School in Bombay. Simultaneously she was given religious teachings in Persian at home. Her study of Persian literature and Qur'an at home, helped her build up her personality. She made her debut as a child artist in Usne Kya Socha (1937). Her films as a child artist ran between 1937 and 1941. She got a break in films with the help of her uncle Zahoor, who was a popular villain of his time. In 1941 during a holiday from school, she accompanied her uncle to Mohan Studios to see the shooting of the film Taj Mahal (1941), a film by Nanubhai Vakil. Vakil noticed the 12-year old girl and chose her to play the role of a young Mumtaz Mahal as they had nobody else to play the role. Naushad had heard her voice on the All India Radio where she sang for a children's programme at the insistence of friend Raj Kapoor and neighbour Madan Mohan. Naushad chose her to sing as a 13 year old for Mehtaab in Kardar's Sharda (1942).

She initially started by playing secondary roles in films like K. Asif's Phool (1944), Mehboob's Anmol Ghadi (1946) and Dard (1947). She got the break as a heroine for the movie Tadbir (1945) at the recommendation of K. L. Saigal who liked her voice during a rehearsal. She went on to co-star with Saigal for two more films Omar Khayyam (1946) and Parwana (1947). More opportunities appeared for Suraiya after reigning actresses Noor Jehan and Khursheed migrated to Pakistan during the 1947 partition.

Suraiya had an edge over her contemporaries Kamini Kaushal and Nargis because she could sing her own songs. The years 1948-49 were the best of her career. After three hits Pyar Ki Jeet (1948), Badi Bahen and Dillagi (1949), she became the highest paid female star. Her reign at the top was brief and her films started flopping in the 1950s. She made a comeback with Waaris and Mirza Ghalib (1954). Her last film was Rustom Sohrab (1963) following which she kept away from films. She stayed at "Krishna Mahal", her Marine Drive residence in Mumbai and died in 2004 of old age at 75. She was interred at Badakabarastan in Marine Lines, Mumbai.

Sourced from wikipedia and meant for information only.

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