The first song of music composer duo Salim-Iqbal that I liked was rendered by Noor Jehan. It was “Aa gai main kahan” a mesmerizing, haunting and mysterious song from the movie ‘Piya Milan Ki Aas’. Listening to this song reminded me of Indian melodies like “Kahin deep jale kahin dil” as far as impact is concerned, not the tune. Thus Salim Iqbal came out with a beautiful song sung by Madam with a mystifying instrumental treatment. Generally speaking, the tune, treatment given to lyrics and the instrumental impact speaks of an educated and cultured man’s creativity in his compositions.
The other song that still mesmerizes me is “Dil kei afsane nigahon ki zuban” from the movie ‘Baji’, decent poetry put to a melodious tune that is a treat to listen to, even today. The movie ‘Baji’ was a beautiful movie based on a sensitive issue of an aging woman falling for a guy who is in love with a younger lady. The sense of deprivation is superbly depicted in controlled emotions by Nayyar Sultana. The music was superb too. This picture was released on Eid Al Adha on May 03, 1963. The cast comprised of Nayyar Sultana, Darpan, Zeba, Lehri, Bibbo, Naina, Salma Mumtaz, Talish, Emi Minwala, Panna, Luddan, Guddi and Uma Devi. Guest Artists were Noor Jehan, Sabiha Khanum, Santosh Kumar, Yasmin, Laila, Tarana, Ejaz, Habib, Waheed Murad, Nazar and Sultan Rahi. The movie was directed by S Suleman, younger brother of Santosh Kumar and Darpan. It was produced by Hafeez Ullah Hassan. The great lyricist Ahmad Rahi wrote the lyrics. Singers were Noor Jehan, Naseem Begum, Najma Niazi, Saleem Raza, Fareeda Khanum and the duo of Ustad Nazakat Ali Khan and Ustad Salamat Ali Khan. The latter rendered raag ‘bhageshri’ superbly well where all the guest artists are sitting enjoying the rendering of the raag with Ustad Shaukat Hussain playing tabla and Ustad Nazim Ali Khan the sarangi. This rendering is followed by a classical dance sequence by Zareen Panna (S Suleman’s wife in real life) and Aimi Minwala on the song “Sajan laagi tori lagan”. It is a brilliant piece of art. Those were the days when masses were treated to classical music and dances and not item songs like today. The presence of the whole film industry in the shooting was proof for the support of this idea. It is believed that this was the last appearance of Madam Noor Jehan on the silver screen.
I was in India in 1964 and the only Pakistani song Indians remembered was “Ab yehan koi nahi” rendered by Noor Jehan for the film ‘Baji’ picturised on Nayyar Sultana when the hero falls for a younger girl instead, as reiterated earlier. So this song attempted to depict the deprivation of the elder woman. Naseem Begum’s songs picturised on Aimi Minwala like “Chanda tori chandni main” depict the feelings of deprivation in Baji (Nayyar Sultana) and a similar impact was demonstrated by the song “Sanwariya nei haye daiya bara dukh”. For the younger lady, the voice of young Najma Niazi was selected by Salim Iqbal. The song was “Na koi wa’ada kiya na koi khai qasam”. Najma is the younger sister of Naheed Niazi her actual name being Mahrukh Zubair. She is married to engineer Zubair of PTV. Saleem Raza rendered the love song “Saaf chupte bhi nahi” in his silky voice. He used to be the selection of music composers of 1950s and 1960s. The song was picturised on the hero, Darpan. The highlight of this movie as mentioned above was Noor Jehan’s song “Dil kei afsane” picturised on Nayyar Sultana. Cinematography of the movie was done by Parvez Akhtar.
One of the famous movies of Salim Iqbal was ‘Phanney Khan’. It was director Hasan Tariq’s master piece. The movie was released on April 30, 1965. It was a story of a character who habitually shows off and tries to portray himself as a person much beyond his actual self; a simpleton rather! Allauddin played the character in an excellent manner. Sudhir played opposite Shirin and Saloni opposite Allauddin. Saloni though not pretty was a very sensuous artist and her facial expressions won the hearts of filmgoers, especially when she meets Allauddin while trying to take a Tonga ride and ends with the song sung by Irene Parveen “Tak laya oei oei oei”. Irene Parveen had a soft tuneful voice. She currently resides in UK. Saloni, unfortunately, recently passed away in Canada. A mujra number by Naseem Begum “Pawaan kajla tei nain matkawaan” has a catchy tune typical of a dancer in a village scene. The third melody that is popular among masses even today is “Jiyo dhola” picturised on Saloni and rendered by Noor Jehan.