In 1971-72, a voice emerged from PTV that was palpably a different one for that era. It was the voice of the late Nayyara Noor. She was different in terms of not only her voice but also her personality.
“Half of her face would be covered by her hair, and her gaze lowered,” Sultan Arshad Khan, author of ‘101 Melody Makers’, and a friend of Noor, remembered her at the condolence reference held at the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa), titled ‘Nightingale with a Golden Voice’, on Sunday.
The rest of the celebrities of that era, on the contrary, wore makeup, he pointed out. He said Noor’s voice was soulful. “Just like her name had Noor [divine light], her voice was also divine. She would sing in a sitting position, which generated some speculation that she is either disabled or visually impaired.”
He said: “Noor attracted people with the purity of her voice. She had purity not only in her voice but also in her personality. She became a favourite of everyone.”
He also said that her personality, dress and voice used to exhibit purity, adding that she later started singing for films and never looked back, but when she was at her peak, she decided not to sing for films.
Her husband Sheharyar Zaidi used to work for the Pakistan International Airlines, and he was posted in Karachi. Their children were very young at that time.
She could have lived in Lahore and progressed her career, but she chose to move to Karachi with her husband and children. Here she became friends with Khan, and would call him brother. For two years Khan’s and Noor’s families were neighbours.
“I have never come across a more domesticated celebrity,” said Khan, adding that they used to meet daily, and not a single day passed by that she was not in the kitchen cooking for her husband and children. Besides all her house chores, she would sing for dramas and films, he said.
He recalled that while he was in India, he observed she had fans there as well. Indian playback singer Anil Biswas was her big-time fan and sent a praising note to her through him. Khan played Noor’s song that Biswas had originally sung in India — ‘Unka Ishara Jaan Se Pyara’. Biswas had sung this song in 1945, while Noor sang its cover version in Pakistan.
“My dear child Nayyara, today I heard your voice. Sultan Arshad played it for me. I wish you were the original singer of this composition of mine,” Khan read out the note that followed a round of applause for Noor.
Zaidi, Noor’s husband and a veteran actor, shared how his wife was very fond of singing and how it was her singing that had left him awestruck. He said that when he was in college, there was a music competition. “A voice could be heard in the rehearsal room that caught my attention. I entered the room and saw a slender girl singing with perfection. We became friends, then later tied the knot.”
He said he had never seen anyone singing with such perfection. She had a perfect pronunciation and would sing from the heart, he added. “She was a very good wife and friend,” he remembered her with tears in his eyes.