Melody Queen Noor Jehan — Part II

It was Minu Kartak production. The cast was Violet Cooper, Munni Bai, Baba Ibrahim and Shirazi. In this movie, Noor Jehan played Cooper’s child role. Among the Cooper sisters, Spanish Cooper was most good looking one but she retired early after marrying the owner of Isfahai Tea in 1945. Noor Jehan was still a child but her elder sisters Eiden and Haider Baandi started searching for their partners.
Baby Noor Jehan’s two talked about movies in 1936 were ‘Sheila’ and ‘Mr. & Mrs. Bombay’ followed by Maidan Theatre’s ‘Nari Raaj’. She also sang a song. It was director Tanu Bhai Wakeel’s production. The lead pair was Jehan Ara Kajjan and Abdur Rehman. Since Punjab Mail sisters and Baby Noor Jehan had edge over other actors as they could sing, they were used in Wakeel’s next movie ‘Fakhar-e-Islam’. Its cast was Spanish Cooper, Rasheeda, Anis Khatoon, Ghulam Sabir and Noor Jehan. Music was composed by Moti Laal Naik. Same year another Punjabi movie ‘Heer Sayal’ by director KD Mehra was released. The then Punjab CM Sikandar Hayat Khan especially came from Punjab on its release. Noor Jehan played the role of Heer’s childhood and her sister appeared in a comedy role. Noor Jehan also sang a chorus in this film. Critics say that the realistic picturing of this movie won laurels by the director in 1937. The same year witnessed a movie ‘Mr. 420’ starring Anwari Andobala, Sohrab, Abdullah and Noor Jehan. Music was given by Bhai Chaila. Anwari was a famous actress of that time having won popularity for acting in the movie ‘Puran Bhagat’. Another movie was ‘Taran Haar’, starring Gohar Bai Karnatki, Master Bacha, Ibrahim, Mansoor Ali and Noor Jehan. Damudar Sharma was the music composer and it was directed by Kiku Bhai Desai. Both movies did not leave any mark. The only exception was a song by Noor Jehan. Another flop film in 1938 was Indra Movietone’s ‘Namumkin’ in, which Noor Jehan appeared as Baby Noor Jehan. Music was given by Prem Kumar. Respite came in the form of a highly successful venture ‘Sassi Punnoo’. Noor Jehan acted the childhood of Sassi. Daud Chand directed this movie starring Balo (Iqbal Begum), Aslam Khan, Haider Bandi, Pushpa Rani and Baby Noor Jehan. Noor Jehan had sung her song addressing her parents in this film. It was now time to for Noor Jehan to leave Calcutta.
Struggle in Lahore: By the time, Noor Jehan and sisters left Calcutta; they were a well known name. On return from Calcutta, Baby Noor Jehan was 12 with a thin, lean body and ordinary face. Until 1939, she was still labeled as Baby Noor Jehan. Master Ghulam Haider composed songs for Noor Jehan, which led to her early popularity. She then recorded her first song “Shala Jawaniyan Mane” for Dalsukh M Pancholi’s movie ‘Gul Bakavli’. Wali Saheb was lyricist for the film. In an interview, Dilsukh M Pancholi disclosed that one day when he was walking on Side Street on Upper Mall, Lahore he saw two girls waiting for him at his studio gate to be heard. The girls were singing on the gate. The man accompanying the girls only requested that the girls be heard and if liked given a chance in the movie ‘Gul Bakawli’. The girls were handed over to master Ghulam Haider who had already recorded songs in the voice of Zeenat Begum at HMV, heard Noor Jehan. He liked variations in her voice and rendering of Alaap. When director Barkat Mehra saw Noor Jehan, he gave her role in the movie also. Noor Jehan sang a couple of songs. One of such songs was “Pinjre dei vich qaid jawani”. Producer was happy because this movie earned lots of profit much above the investments. Encouraged he started making two other movies ‘Khazanchi’ and ‘Yamla Jutt’; the latter being a Punjabi picture. Wali Sahab brought Pran Krishen (later known only as Pran) as hero from Bombay. He played the role of a playboy who plays with the life of Ranjana, the elder daughter of M Ismail, the younger one being Noor Jehan. Both movies were directed by Moti B Gudwani from Bombay. Master Ghulam Haider introduced Shamshad begum in this movie. The success of ‘Yamla Jutt’ was attributed to M Ismail’s outstanding acting and Noor Jehan’s songs such as “Main koyal vaangu kyun na gaanwaan kuku”.
By now, Noor Jehan’s sister and brother Shafi had also moved to Lahore. They started living in a small house in Red Light Area. In those days the known singers from Punjab were Akhtari Bai Faizabadi, Inayat Bai Dherowali, Tamancha Jan, Ellahi Jan, Zeenat Begum, Umrao Zia Begum and Shamshad Begum. From Bengal were, Jotika Rai, Jamuna, Kanan Bala, Raj Kumari and Oma Devi and from Bombay, Amir Bai Karnatki, Mrs Panna Lal Ghosh etc.


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