A rare collection of images from the private collection of Noor Jehan's family, and interviews with those she touched.
She could sing in several languages including Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi and Sindhi, making her one of the most influential singers of all time in South Asia.
Noor Jehan sang 12 war songs which were recorded and broadcasted by Radio Pakistan during the 1965 war. She was given the title of Malika-e-Tarannum (the Queen of Melody) in Pakistan for her services during the war, and was popularly known as Madam by her adoring fans. Being surrounded by multitudes of people did not faze her and she was accustomed to being admired.
Here she is seen with her son-in-law, Haroon Rasheed, and relatives from his bridal party.
As a young girl, Noor Jehan appeared in the K.D. Mehra directed Punjabi movie Pind di Kuri (1935) and 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).
In 1938 Noor Jehan moved to Lahore. Her first major film role was opposite the Indian actor Pran in Khandaan (1942). The film became a major hit and she moved to Mumbai with its director, Syed Shaukat Hussain Rizvi, who she later married.
After the Partition in 1947, Jehan decided to move to Pakistan and settled in Karachi.
This picture shows a young Noor Jehan during the making of her 1947 film, Jugnu. Starring opposite veteran actor, Dilip Kumar, Noor Jehan played the titular leading lady in the Indian film.
She is seen here dressed in a checked coat, a silk headscarf and adorning her forehead is a traditional bindi. A little girl is also seen with her, who could possibly be one of her daughters who was visiting her and keeping her company on the film set.
It was shortly after making this film that Noor Jehan moved to Pakistan.
Captured in the early 50s, this picture characterizes the type of woman Madam Noor Jehan was and the influence her work had on the public. She appears to be at ease as she rests on a sofa with some sort of cast on her hand; perhaps she was injured or possibly she was wearing a glove of some kind to help her have better control of her mike during her performances.
Her comfortable sitting position is juxtaposed against a background of mayhem. As her fans knew, Noor Jehan was the center of attention in all gatherings, and, here, she certainly was. The body-language of the man in front of reveals all; his bent posture and clasped hands imply how he was willing to make sure that the Madam was comfortable and had everything she needed.
She holds the record for having given voice to the largest number of film songs in the history of Pakistani cinema.
The original Prima Donna of Pakistan, throughout her career Madam Noor Jehan was known for her flamboyant and theatrical personality. This iconic picture highlights her glamorous style.
In 1957, she was the recipient of the President’s Award for Pride of Performance for her contribution towards acting and singing.
Here you can see Madam Noor Jehan with the famous actor Dilip Kumar. Both of them are smiling widely: a sign of their friendship and appreciation for each other.
They co-starred together in the 1947 film Jugnu.
Mumtaz Ahmed was born in 1946 in Lahore. In this interview with The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP) he speaks about Madam Noor Jehan and how he remembers her going to the studio at Radio Pakistan. He mentions that Sufi Tabassum used to call Noor Jehan to the studio to do live recordings and then her songs would be on air immediately. She would record almost daily and her songs were enjoyed by many people across the country, and they also motivated many during times of war.
During the 1965 war, Noor Jehan contributed towards boosting the morale of Pakistani soldiers and citizens with a collection of patriotic anthems and uplifting tunes. She sang 12 war songs that were recorded and broadcasted by Radio Pakistan.
Due to this she received much respect from the Armed Forces and in 1966 was given the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz in recognition of the legendary patriotic songs—one of the highest Pakistani civilian awards.
These songs not only motivated the Armed Forces of Pakistan but also enabled Pakistani civilians to amass courage. Even today when these songs are played, they rekindle the same spirit of 1965.
Taken around the 90s, this image shows Madam Noor Jehan entertaining General Pervaiz Musharraf.
Surriya Ashraf was born in 1936 in Nowshera, India. In her interview with The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP) she remembers how Madam Noor Jehan had sung many songs during the 1965 War that were broadcasted on Radio Pakistan. Her songs motivated the nation so much that people from every household were coming out to help in whatever way that they could.
This candid, family photograph is a true representation of Noor Jehan’s top priority: her family. Madam’s affection and need to protect her family, especially her daughters, is clearly evident through their smiles and laughter.
Noor Jehan always put her family life on a pedestal. In this photograph, Madam is elated as she claps and cheers on her daughter who is cutting her birthday cake.
The man in this picture, assisting with the cutting of the cake, is her second husband, Ejaz Durrani.
From the extreme right the order of the girls is: Hina Durrani, Nazia Durrani and Zil-e Huma (her daughter holding Noor Jehan’s grandson Muhammad Ali Butt). Shazia Sardar is seen at the back.
Florence Villiers was born in 1947 in France. She came to Pakistan in the 1970s and was married to Madam Noor Jehan's son, Akbar Hussain Rizvi. In her interview with The Citizens Archive of Pakistan she speaks about how hardworking and dedicated Madam Noor Jehan was.
Taken in the 1980s, Noor Jehan is seen at a later stage in her life, standing in close proximity to her daughter, Zil-e-Huma. Her daughter, a carbon copy of her mother, appears to be in deep conversation with her.
Noor Jehan, even at an older age, appears elegant, with a flower in her hair and donning a red Shalwar Kameez.
Madam Noor Jehan, in her later days, is seen holding tightly on to her daughter, Zil-e-Huma.
This moment represents the close relationship the mother-daughter duo shared; evident, through the adoring, gazing look she is giving her daughter. Zil-e-Huma, dressed in complete white and looking like a replica of her mother, clearly reciprocates the feelings.
Initial Design, Concept and Layout:
Primary Data collection:
CAP Oral History Project Lahore Team 2017
- Sultan Ali
- Mustafa Kamal
- Rahma Ali
Syed Zain Haroon
Anum Zahid (Photo Editing)
General Editing, Technical Support and Final Design:
The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to cultural and historic preservation, operating in Karachi and Lahore. We seek to educate the community, foster an awareness of our nation’s history and instil pride in Pakistani citizens about their heritage.
Copyright © 2017 by Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP).
All rights reserved. No part of this Exhibit 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).
All the images shown here were donated to CAP by Noor Jehan's grandson Mohammad Ali Butt and her grand daughter-in-law Saira Khan.