Noor Jehan in her youth playing a Sitar

The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

The Citizens Archive of Pakistan
Karachi, Pakistan

The Nightingale of The East

Noor Jehan (Born Allah Rakhi Wasai) was a famous Pakistani singer and actress. She could sing in several languages including Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi and Sindhi, and recorded over 10,000 songs during her career. She was given the title of Malika-e-Tarannum (the Queen of Melody) in Pakistan, and was popularly known as Madam by her adoring fans. Born into a Muslim family with a rich musical tradition, she began singing at the age of 5 and received early training in classical singing under Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Noor Jehan appeared in the K.D. Mehra directed Punjabi movie ‘Pind di Kuri’ (1935); she next acted in a film called ‘Missar Ka Sitara’ (1936). Noor Jehan also played the child role of Heer in the film ‘Heer-Sayyal’ (1937). Noor Jehan moved to Lahore in 1938. Her first major film role was opposite Pran in ‘Khandaan’ (1942). The film became a major hit and she moved to Mumbai with director Syed Shaukat Hussain Rizvi who she later married. After the Partition in 1947, Jehan decided to move to Pakistan and settled in Karachi. Her first big break in Pakistan was in 1951 with the film, ‘Chanwey’, opposite Santosh Kumar. She also directed this film along with her husband, becoming Pakistan's first female director. She established herself as a top actress with films like Dopatta (1952), Intezar (1956) and Koel (1959). In 1957, she was the recipient of the President’s Award for Pride of Performance for her contribution towards acting and singing. She received the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz in 1966 for her legendary patriotic songs for the 1965 War. Here we see Madam Noor Jehan in one of her most iconic photos. Holding a Sitar, looking off camera and striking a pose, we see Madam Noor Jehan at her most comfortable; in front of a camera. Seeing her in her younger days we catch glimpses of the star that she would become and not only that but also of the girl that she once was.


  • Title: Noor Jehan in her youth playing a Sitar
  • Subject Keywords: Noor Jehan, Allah Rakhi Wasai, Singer, Actress, classical singing,
  • Type: Photograph
  • Rights: Copyright © 2017 by Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP). All rights reserved . No part of this image may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including copying, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP). This image was donated by Mohammad Ali Butt

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