All seven songs are hit and it seems that all are composed in harmony with each other though Rasheed Attre’s son Javed Attre claims that their father got estranged with Pasha as to why three songs by Master Inayat Hussain were included in this film! Rasheed Attre’s son Wajahat Attre contends that the three songs by Master Sahab were composed for ‘Anarkali’ until Pasha’s change of heart and he approached Rasheed Attre for the balance four songs. According to Wajahat Attre, his father had gone to Master Sahab seeking his permission to do. Despite these conflicting stories my job is to report all points of view. This was a big film of that era. Master Saheb’s composed songs were “Kahan tak suno gei kahan tak sunaun”, a song through which Anarkali’s sister (played by Shamim Ara) brings a message to Saleem from Anarkali. The other two again sung by the heroine Noor Jehan were “Jaltey hein armaan mera dil rota hei” and “Bewafa hum na bhooley tujhey sari duniya nei hum sei kaha bhool ja”. Noor Jehan’s mastery over rendition of these songs is exemplary. Four songs “Banwari chakkori”, “Jo bhi nagah-e-yaar kahey maan jaaiye”, “Tumhari arzu mein koocha-e-qatil” and “Sada hun apney apney pyar ki”, all hits were Rasheed Attre’s compositions. Humera Arshad, a singer of today, remixed the latter song and got popular. One can see that all seven songs seem to be depicting the grandeur of Mughal era and are in consonance with each other. Only Noor Jehan could render these difficult songs with ease.
In 1958, movie ‘Pardaisan’ started its shooting. It was M Nasim’s production. No proper director was hired for this movie. Film editor Ali did this job. Had he been serious this movie could have been made well. In competition director Hasan Tariq’s movie ‘Neend’ did very well. Rasheed Attre’s music was fantastic. Due to Noor Jehan songs for Rasheed Attre and Hasan Tariq’s treatment given to the lives of poor coal picking girls, Rasheed Attre bagged Nigar Award in 1959. I still recall having watched this movie in Regent Cinema Lahore. Noor Jehan, Neelo and Nighat Sultana were coal pickers and Aslam Parvez played the hero but in a negative role. It was dominated by Noor Jehan’s songs “Chan chun bajey payal bajey” and “Terey dar par sanam chaley aaei”. One of its songs “Akeli kahin mat jana jamana nazuk hei” was re-mixed by the composer’s grandson Jimmy Attre lately. Khwaja Khurshid Anwar also started a musical ‘Koel’ the same year. I recall this movie for Raag Malhar rendered in the title of this film when Allauddin teaches music to his adolescent daughter, Noor Jehan’s trim body and modern outfit and lovely songs sung by her. Noor Jehan remembers the song “Sagar roye leherain shor machaein” because Khwaja Sahab’s jump from a lower note to a higher one on the word ‘Machaen’; a difficult proposition from vocalisation point of view. The other songs such as “Dil ka diya jalaya” in Raag Kalawati and “Tere Bina” established Noor Jehan’s credibility once again as a singer par excellence. The duet with Munir Hussain “Rim jhim rim pare phuaar” was a catchy number, the child version being sung by Nahid Niazi and Najma Niazi. Incidentally all three movies I have mentioned here had Aslam Parvez, famous for his negative roles.
Noor Jehan’s last stint as actress was the movie ‘Ghalib’. Sudhir was miscast in the role of Ghalib whereas director Sohrab Modi had successfully used Bharat Bhushan opposite Suraiya in India. The best Ghazal rendered by Noor Jehan for this movie was “Muddat hui hei yaar ko mehman kiye hue”.
The other notable rendering was “Yei na thi hamari qismet kei visal-e-yaar hota”. Tasaduq Hussain composed music for this Attaullah Shah Hashmi production. Unfortunately the movie did not click. On the other hand Noor Jehan’s husband Ijaz was busy doing many movies with actress Firdaus and the scandals of their romantic involvement were in the news. Noor Jehan decided to withdraw from acting and stuck to this decision until she lived. Another version is that Ijaz forced her to stop acting and concentrate on playback singing only. In any case her acting career spanning over 26 years finished in 1961 from Baby Noor Jehan to Madam Noor Jehan.
Playback singing: In my humble opinion Noor Jehan’s best span of her filmdom was as a playback singer singing over 10,000 songs, both for films, gramophone companies and for radio and TV. Her first song as playback singer was for Rasheed Attre’s music composition “Zindigi hei ya kisi ka intizar” for the movie ‘Salma’. It was a melodious medium tempo pop song of its time as I rate it. Instead of charging Rs 200 to Rs 500 per song as charged by Zubeda Khanum, Kauser Parveen, Munawar Sultana etc, her rate was a couple of thousand, quite high for 1960s.