Uzair Ali talks about Nayyara Noor no more
It is with a heavy heart that we have to say goodbye to Nayyara Noor no more, the crooner who was widely celebrated as a nightingale warming the hearts of millions of people. She was blessed with a naturally sonorous voice deeply in tune with all musical notes with the inborn faculty to modulate her voice to the modalities of every tune she sang. She was reported to have fallen victim to cancer and fought the disease for some time before finally succumbing to it. Her place in the long list of exceptional vocal artists is indeed assured and, that too, on a very high level. Her voice was a miracle embellished with all attributes gifted by divinity and she was the best of her genre. She leaves behind an enviable legacy and a treasure trove of mellifluous renditions.
Nayyara Noor came to prominence in 1973 when her film song Tera Saya became a huge national hit. Composed by M. Ashraf this song became Nayyara’s signature tune and no one knows how almost half a century passed between now and then. She possessed the clear nuances of classical control and she admitted that Kanan Bala and Begum Akhtar were her favourite singers though the tenor of Nayyara’s voice was sweeter and lyrical. Interestingly, she had no formal training in music but her prodigious talent was spotted in her alma-matter National College of Arts in Lahore and soon was seen performing for the university’s Radio Pakistan programmes.
In 1971, she made her playback singing debut in Pakistani television serials and then seamlessly transitioned to films like Gharana and Tansen. She won the Nigar Award for the best female playback singer for Gharana. She was given memorable numbers to sing by legendary composers such as Nisar Bazmi and Khalil Ahmed. She highly rated Robin Ghosh as a music composer who gave her a very sweet song to sing: roothay hum tum, tum ko kaise manaoon piya, composed in lilting Bengali overtones that is full of melodic surprises. She also highly valued that Khwaja Khurshid Anwar gave her a number to sing but regretted that she met him during his decline as a music composer.
Nayyara Noor, however, excelled in ghazal singing and developed a cult following despite her reluctance to participate in musical concerts. Nayyara also excelled in television work where she was kept very busy by well-known TV song producer Khwaja Najmul Hasan and composers Khalil Ahmed and Arshad Mahmood. She sang for many popular TV serials such as Tansen and many more. Her title songs like ‘chalo us koh per’ or ‘mujhe wida kar’ created a new niche for her that later became standard requirement for TV serials. Her work on television is acknowledged by all and sundry that it is a wonderful and unforgettable compendium of ghazals and geets.
She developed a vast fan following when she rendered exceptional ghazals such Behzad Lakhnavi’s ‘ae jazba-e-dil gar mein chahoon,’ Nasir Kazmi’s ‘phir sawan rut ki pawan chali’ that were exceptional numbers. Film and TV composition wizard Khalil Ahmed gave her a composition of a ghazal of Akhtar Sheerani ‘aye ishq humein barbad na kar’ that is a heart rending expression of a forlorn heart. She adored humourist Ibne Insha whose fidgety sweet song ‘jale tau jalao gori’ she rendered with tremendous effervescence. Her exceptional rendition of national song ‘watan ki mitti gawah rehna’ is sung throughout the country and is considered one of the best of its genre and provokes strong patriotic feelings.
Nayyara’s outstanding contribution came in shape of the album Nayyara sings Faiz released by the EMI that was extremely well received. She was well known to Faiz Ahmed Faiz and this album was the tribute she paid to the legendary poet. In the album Nayyara sang Faiz’s rare Hindi poem ‘barkha barse chat per’ with her husband Shehryar Zaidi. This album is an all time favourite and is rated very high by music lovers. Another exceptional contribution Nayyara offered to the musical world was the album Yadon ke saye featuring songs from 1930s and 1940s. She and her team were very particular about the details of this album as these songs were recorded on 78 RPM recording system and it required meticulous care to craft them in modern methods. The hard work paid off and this album has become a collector’s item very well sought after by music lovers. This album gushes in sonorous flavour of yesteryear bringing back nostalgia in full swing.
Right in her prime Nayyara married Shehryar Zaidi who himself was a practicing musical artist and both their sons have joined the musical profession. She was always known to be rather aloof from the glitzy world of music and preferred the domestic life. She dissociated herself from the public sphere and it became very rare to see her performing in public. Despite her becoming recluse Nayyara was honoured with the title “Bulbul-e-Pakistan” in 2006 and in the same year she was awarded the Pride of Performance Award. She will always remain in the hearts and minds of successive generations of music lovers irrespective of the time factor. TW