Umair Ali on the unfinished career of a scintillating voice Of Nayyara Noor
The regretful fact is that the extremely sonorous voice of Nayyara Noor has not been fully utilised by the musical circles in Pakistan. Her voice had a unique timber that is very rarely heard with a stunning combination of nasal and throat intonations. Her voice is both soothing and energising at the same time. She is surely one of those exceptional voices that a nation is blessed with. She possesses an inbuilt advantage of gliding over both low and high notes.
Ever since she became a rage with her film song composed by M. Ashraf for film Gharana ‘tera saya jahan bhi ho sajna’ released in 1973 she has been on the top list of musical performers in Pakistan. She was given quite a good number of songs to perform in films but as the industry was on the decline she soon shifted to television where experienced producers took advantage of her singular voice and talent and she emerged as the leading voice of TV dramas and serials.
A music buff from childhood, gramophone records were her favourite company in her house in Gauhati, Assam where she was born to a businessman father. While studying at NCA in Lahore her singing talent came to fore and she participated in music soirees where she met her future husband Shahryar Zaidi. She was given a break in film singing in 1973 and later presented few ghazals of Faiz Ahmed Faiz to him as his birthday gift. The portfolio was later extended with the help of music composer Arshad Mahmood and titled Nayyara Sings Faiz.
A classicist by nature in her musical outlook, Nayyara Noor has natural disposition to render complicated ebbs and flow of a composition as is evident from her rendering of ‘har chand sahara hai tere pyar ka dil ko’ in which she effortlessly negotiates the difficult landing of the word ‘khauf’ in the second line of the ghazal written by Shuhrat Bukhari. She is basically a believer in melody and its dominance in singing and rates instrumentation as accompaniment rather than the main body of a composition.
Nayyara’s film career was brief although she sang highly popular songs while working for this genre. She comes out sweetly in the song ‘roothe ho tum tum ko kaise manoon piya’ a riveting number composed by Bengali music director Robin Ghosh. The song is symptomatic of Bengali overtones very nicely delivered by Nayyara.
Nisar Bazmi gave her an enchanting composition ‘bol ree gurya bol zara’ which she breezily sang with verve inherent in the composition. Her film singing career was short but she always regretted that she was late in performing for the legendary music composer Khwaja Khurshid Anwar in his twilight years and when he was past his prime though she sang his film compositions.
Nayyara excelled in television work where she recorded title songs for many 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 is a compendium of ghazals and geets.
Her rendition of Behzad Lakhnawi’s ghazal ‘ae jazba-e-dil gar mein chahoon’ has given it a distinct colour. She highly rated poet Nasir Kazi and sang his ghazal ‘phir sawan rut ki pawan chali’ that is not only novel in its content but is full of melodic surprises. 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 fidgetly sweet geet ‘jale tau jalao gori’ she rendered with tremendous effervescence.
The classicist in Nayyar compelled her to re-record in her voice exceptional musical numbers composed in the 1940s. The result was a substantially powerful album Yadon ke Saye containing outstanding songs composed by legendary composers like Anil Biswas. Amongst the songs was one rendered by Nasim Begum in 1945 ‘unka ishara jan se pyara’ composed by Anil Biswas. She often reported that Anil Biswas wrote extolling her singing virtues and said that he would have loved to record this composition in her voice!
Nayyara has withdrawn from singing world since 2012 and that is a national loss. She probably withdrew due to the debasement of Pakistani musical norms by western inspired din of instrumentation that is eating into the very fabric of our music. She may have become hopeless of the chances of restoration of real Pakistani music. Though she has withdrawn but her two sons are in musical field. Her younger son Jaffar Zaidi is lead vocalist in Kavish music band and her elder son Naad-e-Ali is a solo singer. TW