Suraiya was a beautiful heroine actress of Bollywood films who had the skill of singing also.Even though she was not having former musical training she could render any type of songs as per the music director's requirements.Actress Noorjehan was her contemporary as singing actress and both of them acted together in many films also.After partition Noorjehan moved to Pakistan.
Suraiya was born as Suraiya Jamal Sheikh at Gujranwala,Punjab (now in Pakistan) on June 15 1929.She became popular as 'Suraiya'.
She had her schooling at Bombay and one of her uncles was in the film field as a Villain actor.So she acted as a child artist in the film 'Usne Kya Socha' and later while watching shooting in a film studio, director of the film 'Taj Mahal' offered her role as young 'Mumtaz Mahal' in that film.
By hearing her song Music director Naushad gave her a song in the film 'Sharada(1942).She became an established actor thereupon. Films like "Station Master,Nai Duniya,Tamanna and Sharada" got released in 1942.
Mannadey's debut song was for the film 'Tamanna' and it was a duet with Suraiya.
K.L.Saighal was impressed by her songs and he recommended her for the film 'Tadbir'They both paired the main roles and sang songs in it. It was the fifth highest grossing film of that year.Saighal and Suraiya acted together in more films like 'Omarkhayam' and 'Parwana' and sang songs also for them.
Suraiya sang only songs for her characters in films except one or two films.
Her mentor Naushad had composed more than 50 songs for her out of which many of them are hits.
Several of her films were also hits during 40's and 50's.
'Anmol Ghadi'(1946) directed by Mehboob Khan was the highest grossing film at the box office of that year.Noorjehan and Surendra were in the main roles.Noorjehan sang 3 solo songs and one duet in it and Suraiya sang three songs.Naushad was the music director.Mohd. Rafi's first noted song was for this film.
'Mirza Ghalib' in which Bharat Bhushan was the hero in the title role as poet 'Mirza Ghalib' and Suraiya as his courtesan lover received much acclaim.
Raj Kapoor and Suraiya paired for the 1950 film 'Dastan' which was the third highest earning film of that year.
Dillagi(49) was the fourth highest grossing film of 1946 in which Suraiaya was the heroine and sang songs for her character.
Dard,Dillagi,Deewana,Phool,Vidya,Do Dil,Rang Mahal etc were all hits of that period.
She sang songs under music directors 'Naushad,Saighal,O.P.Nayyar,Hansraj Behi,Shyam Sunder,N.Dutta,Ghulam Mohammed and many more.
During the shooting of a duet song scene of film 'Vidya' in 1948 with Dev Anand, the boat in which they were sitting collapsed and Dev Anand rescued Suraiya from drowning.Later romance blossomed in between them but her grand mother was against it.Since grand mother had complete control over her life his proposal had to be rejected.She remained unmarried throughout her life.
Suraiya lived at her apartment in Marine Drive,Mumbai.
Suraiya was declared the first 'Melody Qeen'(Malika -e-Tarannum) in the sub-Continnent.Later Noor Jehan was also given the same title.
Rustom Sohrab(1963) was the last film in which she acted.
She produced a film 'Shagoon' in which Kamaljeet,Waheeda Rehman,Neena,Achla Sachdev,Nazir Hussain etc acted in the year 1964.
Suraiya died on January 31, 2004 at the age of 74.
Mein Kya Karun
Pyar ki Jeet
Kamal ke Phool
Aaj ki Raat