1. At what age was Allah Wasai from Kasur crowned the Melody Queen of India? 2. In what year did Noor Jehan quit acting to pursue a career as a playback singer? 3. Which eminent Pakistani English novelist refers to the popularity of Noor Jehan’s songs on the streets of Lahore in 1947, in a famous novel on the theme of Partition? 4. Which event granted her the status of a national heroine? 5. What record does she hold that no other playback singer in Pakistan does? 6. Which Indian Prime Minister granted Noor Jehan an audience at New Delhi’s PM House? 7. Which song did Mrs Gandhi’s son, Rajiv Gandhi, ask Noor Jehan to sing when he met her at a state dinner, while visiting Pakistan as India’s Prime Minister during Benazir Bhutto’s first government? 8. Noor Jehan sang many famous ghazals penned by Ahmed Faraz. Which one was the poet’s favourite? 9. Which musical classic made in Lahore was the first to have the golden vocals of Noor Jehan and the musical genius of composer Khursheed Anwer together? 10. How many years before her death did Noor Jehan sing her last film song?

Answers:

1. Born on September 21, 1926, Allah Wasai was given the name of Baby Noor Jehan and groomed as a child star in Kolkata. Then in Bombay, at the age of 19, she was given the title Malika-i-Tarannum for her rendition of Bulbulo Mat Ro Yehan for the film Zeenat (1945); 2. She quit acting in 1959, after establishing herself as an accomplished actress with musicals Chan We (1951), Dupatta (1952), Pate Khan (1954), Intezar (1956), Anarkali (1958), Neend and Koel (1959). She then devoted herself to playback singing; 3. Bapsi Sidhwa mentions Noor Jehan’s song from the 1946 film Anmol Ghari, Mere Bachpan ke Saathi, in her novel The Ice-candy Man which was later made into a film by the Indian director Deepa Mehta. Mehta chose to include another Noor Jehan song, Jawan Hai Muhabbat, also from Anmol Ghari, in her other cinematic venture titled Earth; 4. The 1965 Indo-Pak war inspired Noor Jehan, then a mother of six, to sing anthems like Ae Watan ke Sajeele Jawano and Ae Putar Hatan te Naeen Vikde. These morale-boosting songs not only united the entire nation, but also granted the singer a revered status; 5. She is the only playback singer to have sung for at least three sets of father-son musicians. She was the first choice of musicians Rasheed Attre as well as his son Wajahat Attre, sang for both Nashad and Wajid Ali Nashad while rendering her vocals for M Ashraf and M Arshad as well; 6. Indira Gandhi was the premier who hosted Noor Jehan in New Delhi when the latter visited India in 1982, after a lapse of 35 years. After shaking hands with the PM, the singer remarked, “I had been looking forward to meeting you.” To this Indira Gandhi replied, “You had been looking forward to meeting me, Noor Jehan, and my entire nation has been looking forward to meeting you!”; 7. Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s ever-famous poem, Mujh se Pehli si Muhabbat, which the poet had gifted to the inimitable singer; 8. Silsilay Torr Gaya Woh Sabhi Jate Jate; 9. Intezar (1956). The two got together again for Koel (1959), Ghunghat (1962) and Heer Ranjha (1970). The soulful Noor Jehan-Mehdi Hasan duet, Chand Tu Jab Bhi Muskurata Hai (Sarhad, 1966), was also a Khursheed Anwer composition; 10. Just three years before her death, at the age of 71, Madam Noor Jehan recorded her last song, the ominous, Ki Damm da Bharosa Yaar, Damm Aave na Aave (Trust not the breath, there may not be a next one), for the 1997 Punjabi film, Sakhi Badshah.

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