LAHORE, Oct 19: Prolific singer and actress Zubaida Khanum passed away in Lahore on Saturday. She was 78.

She had been suffering from heart ailments for many years. Her condition deteriorated on Saturday at around 9pm.

She was rushed to a hospital close to her Raiwind Road residence by her family but doctors pronounced her dead.

Her funeral prayers will be offered at 10am on Sunday in West Wood Colony.

At the height of her career, Ms Khanum married renowned cameraman Riyaz Bokhari and left playback singing for good. Her son Faisal Bokhari is also a known cameraman. Coincidentally, Oct 19 was the death anniversary of her husband.

She was born in 1935 in Amritsar. Her family migrated to Lahore after partition. She did not belong to any traditional music ‘gharana’. Singing was her own passion with an additional factor of financial constraints she was facing.

She ruled the Urdu/Punjabi playback singing scene in the 1950s.

Ms Khanum’s extremely melodious and lively voice introduced a new era in Pakistani playback singing when Nazir and Swaranlata signed her for ‘Shehri Babu’ in 1953. Rashid Attre was the music composer.

Her sweet voice was filmed mostly on Musarrat Nazir and Sabiha, the two leading ladies of the fifties.

During the early years of her career, she also appeared as guest actor and did brief roles in a handful of films including ‘Patey Khan’ and ‘Morni’.

The year 1956 was quite an eventful one for her career as she sang for many hit films, including ‘Sarfarosh’, ‘Hameeda’, ‘Miss 56’ and ‘Baaghi’.

‘Baaghi’ — an action-packed drama starring Sudhir and Musarrat and directed by Ashfaq Malik — was the first film by music director Rehman Verma in Pakistan. The film also remained lucky for Zubaida Khanum.

‘Baaghi’ had some memorable songs by Ms Khanum such as ‘Kaise kahoun mein alvida’ and ‘Balam tum haar gaye jeeta mera pyar’.

Khurshid Anwar gave Pakistan a magnificent movie ‘Koel’ in 1959. Although Noor Jahan was the lead female voice in the movie and the charm of her voice was everywhere, Zubaida Khanum gave her own touch to two songs — ‘Masti mein jhoom jhoom re’ and ‘Ho dil jala na dil wale’.

Meena Shorey’s first memorable appearance on the Pakistani film screen as bandit queen in ‘Sarfarosh’ (1956) can never be forgotten by film buffs. Her ethereal beauty was completely framed in Zubaida Khanum’s evergreen ‘Mera nishana dekhe zamana’. Another song from ‘Sarfarosh’, ‘Teri ulfat mein sanam dil ne buhut dard sahe’, is still fresh in memories.

In ‘Saath Lakh’ (1957), three solos, ‘Aaye mausam rangeelay suhane’ and ‘Ghoonghat utha loun yah ghoonghat chupa loun’, were just amazing.

Zubaida Khanum sang with Ahmed Rushdi the serene song ‘Chalak rahi hain mastiyan’ for ‘Raaz’ (1959).

Her smash hits included ‘Kiya hua dil pe sitam’ from ‘Raat ke Rahi’ (1960) composed by A. Hameed. She sang some 200 songs in 147 movies.

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