Famous Pakistani singer Nayyara Noor (71) passed away on Sunday. All the newspapers and channels of Pakistan are full of his condolence news. My first meeting with Nayyara Noor was in 1981. In January 1981, when I was going to meet Prime Minister Babarak Karmal in Kabul, the driver of the palace played a Hindi ghazal in the car. I asked her in Farsi that how is this Pathan or Tajik singer singing such good Hindi-Urdu ghazals?
He told that this woman is Pakistani and not Afghan and her name is Nayyara Noor. In the same year I also went to Pakistan, at the invitation of the Institute of Strategic Studies. At that time I met almost all the ruling and opposition leaders of Pakistan, but I had a great desire that if I get some time, I must meet Nayyara Noor. In those days, the coinage of senior singers like Noor Jahan and Malika Pukhraj had accumulated a lot.
After meeting him, after contacting Nayyara, I reached his house in Lahore, then Mehdi Hasan also came there searching for me. He was from Jaipur. I told that my great-grandfathers were from Khatu, so they started talking to me in Marwari. Nayyara’s husband Shahryar Zaidi was from Lucknow. All four of us Indian origin people got so engrossed with each other as if we had been friends for many years. Nayyara Noor was born in Guwahati in 1950. After 8 years his father moved to Pakistan.
When Nayyara was studying in a college in Lahore, suddenly her singing talent blossomed. She first started singing on the radio. What was then? Their big gatherings started getting decorated. His ghazals were also heard in TV channels and films. She became very famous and popular at a very young age. He sang ghazals of Mir, Ghalib, Faiz and many other poets. He received many honors and awards. But the gentleness and simplicity that I found in her and her husband Zaidi Sahab, was found in very few Indian and Pakistani artists.
Husband and wife won my heart in the very first meeting. He presented me with many of his cassettes, which I have till today and which I listen to with great love. During my every visit to Pakistan in the last 40 years, I used to wish to meet sister Nayyara and sit beside her and listen to her ghazals, but she was now living in Karachi. Whenever I have to go to Karachi, that too only for a few hours and for some special visits! That is why many friends including Nayyara had to be satisfied only by talking on the phone.
I had spoken to Nayyaraji on the phone even two-three months back. His health was not good. He also revealed that he has quit singing for the past few years. His singing and this unattached attitude towards self-promotion continued to amaze me.
People like Nayyara Noor, Malika Pukhraj, Noor Jahan and Mehdi Hassan raised the prestige of Pakistan and delighted Pakistanis with their talent but as President Asif Zardari said that ‘in the heart of every Pakistan there is a Hindustan beats’, this story of his Nayyara is a perfect fit for many great actors like Noor. Hearty tributes to Nayyaraji!!