Suraiya, born in 1929, began her career by doing children's radio programmes for All India
Radio (AIR) along with Raj Kapoor who used to teasingly call her Kallu. A dark plain girl,
neither a classic beauty nor trained in classical music, a few would have predicted that
Suraiya would one day become the country's reigning superstar. Her songs like 'Woh Paas Rahe
Ya Door Rahe, Tere Naino Ne Chori Kiya, Tu Mere Chaand Main Teri Chaandni and Manmor Hua
Matwala' created hysteria.
Dharmendra, a great fan of this superstar remembers having walked miles to see 'Dillagi'
40 times! Gradually she picked up acting too. She had earlier played opposite dancer Mumtaaz
Ali, in the Devika Rani - Jainaj starrer 'Hamari Baat', a second lead to Noorjehan in Anmol
Ghadi and Munnawa Sultana in 'Dard'.
In the 48'-49' phase with three hits in a row 'Pyar Ki Jeet', 'Badi Bahen',
and 'Dillagi' she became the higest paid female star. But her reign at the top was
brief. Most of her films in the 50's flopped till she made a short lived comeback
with Sohrab Modi's 'Mirza Ghalib' in which she played the role of the married Ghalib's lover.
Along with an emotionally changed performance, the queen also recorded what is still regerded
by many as the definitive Ghalib. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru even praised her saying "Tumne Mirza
Ghalib Ki Rooh Ko Zinda Kar Diya" (You Have Brought Mirza Ghailb To Life). After Mirza Ghalib
she retreated into a fantansy world surrounded by her family who still called her baby.
While at the top Suraiya did six films with Dev Anand without a single hit. Their love story
was the stuff legends are made of but her strict grandmother threw Dev's ring into the sea.
She was not ready to give up and till date, the unmarried Suraiya remains ensconded in her
Marine Drive flat still wating.