So, as I was saying, people who have YouTube sites and people connected to Hamara Forums have put together a couple of comprehensive and very well organized Noor Jehan sites, and I am sure that I’m going to be spending a whole lot of time at these places.
The Madam Noor Jehan Website is so chock full of great stuff (more of which is being added as I write this), that I couldn’t possibly find the time to describe it all now. So for the moment, I’ll just say that everyone who likes Noor Jehan really should pay a vist there. Then there is the YouTube channel, which is fantastic. (I have seen about 95 percent of the videos presently posted on this site, but as I’ve already mentioned, it is just wonderful to have all these clips so perfectly organized and therefore locatable.)
Now, I get the impression that the Noor Jehan admiration society on YouTube is a tight community made up of people who live in Pakistan or are from Pakistan, some of whom also have a lot of national pride wrapped in the fondness for Noor, some of whom are also proud Muslims. I guess it’s a nice feeling to have pride in a nation or religion, and I sometimes envy people who do, since I never enjoyed those kinds of pride myself. But, as some people point out when those sad dumb arguments erupt on YouTube between Indian and Pakistani nationalists, the appeal of a singer like Noor Jehan or Lata Mangehskar is universal and certainly isn’t tied up with supporting one nation or thinking of one’s nation/identity group as being superior to another’s. (Besides, I think Noor probably had a more enlightened and internationalist outlook than many people, given especially her strong support of Faiz Ahmed Faiz. In fact, I find it a bit confusing when I see some people praising her as a symbol of patriotism, when I suspect they are also championing politics that she wouldn’t have supported. But I need to get back to those questions another time.) Meanwhile, I have no idea what some of these people would think of the fact that Noor Jehan became an obsession for someone like me, a lifelong resident of New York City, United States (just like my parents), who is also ostensibly a Jew (at least going by my last name and ancestral heritage). But it is irrelevant whether some people might be surprised by my presence in the Noor Jehan club, because I’m definitely a member, in a big way.
I guess it’s become obvious that in blogging and Bollywood-related matters, Noor Jehan has been my obsession of the year. I started to write about her here in the summer of 2008, but I think I’ve been concentrating much more on Noor and her films and music since the beginning of 2009. I guess that my intense concentration on this subject and my enthusiasms might even, at this point, have surpassed my obsession with Padmini, which probably peaked last year. But I don’t think I need to declare that Noor is now my #1 and Padmini my second, especially considering that they both occupied very different territory, literally and artistically. In fact, it’s hard to imagine what the singer from the North and the dancer from the South might have had in common, aside from being arguably the greatest at their respective first arts and being important figures in the cinema of the Subcontinent. One could say, speaking of figures, that they were both very voluptuous – another reason for some of us to admire them, even if they were not so well appreciated for that quality by others, especially in the press. But at any rate, this is all to say that I think there is still plenty of room (so to speak) for both those great talents to continue being the objects of my endless attention, whether or not the readers of this blog can stand it anymore.
Of course, I should be careful making (bad) jokey side comments about any of Noor Jehan’s qualities, since some people out there would consider that blasphemy. Really, judging by some of the words I’m seeing, people seem to regard her as a saint! But that’s all right with me… I am greatly enjoying the huge outpouring of love and admiration that I am witnessing on Noor’s ninth death anniversary, and I am very happy to be a part of that. I know that other occasions are coming up this week that many people make a big deal about, but I have to admit that Noor Jehan Day is by far the biggest one for me. (Although I do hope to do a little something for Mohammed Rafi’s birthday…)
I must confess, though, that I actually own only two DVDs of Noor Jehan movies, and one of them isn’t even one I purchased, since Anmol Ghadi was sent to me last year in a generous package from Doc Bollywood. (So, the only Noor Jehan movie that I purchased on DVD is Dupatta, which I’m pretty sure is some weird bootleg anyway.) If only the Pakistani DVD companies made more English-subtitled versions of Noor Jehan’s films, I would be buying up lots of these movies at the Pakistani store in Jackson Heights, just a few blocks away from where I live. But given my dire economic circumstances, I am not paying money for un-subtitled movies that I can find fairly easily online for free. (And by the way, I have watched a few of them, not understanding a word of the dialogue and hardly caring, as long as I can see Noor Jehan and hear her sing.) I do have plenty of Noor Jehan discs (even if I didn’t purchase most of these either), but that’s because I can greatly enjoy listening to her even without an image in front of me. I guess that’s a big advantage when your favorite film star is a singer…
Still, it is nice to have the whole joyful experience of seeing those Noor Jehan songs on-screen. There are also lots of great scenes for which Noor was a playback singer (which she was for longer, actually, than she was a singing star), but to me those are never as good as watching Noor herself. Admittedly, she was not always the greatest actress, but I think she was often good. And I do have great fun watching her dance, even though she wasn’t exactly Padmini. But beyond all that, she had this powerful, almost indescribable screen presence, and she was sometimes quite beautiful, other times just very cute and adorable. And then, of course, she always would become irresistible as soon as she started to sing.
So, once again (hoping I’m not repeating myself too often), I am positively delighted to have such easy access now to so many Noor Jehan clips. And now, on top of that, when I go to the Noor Jehan Website, I can find a whole lot to read about her too, which (blog readers be forewarned) I intend to talk more about soon.
Thanks again, Noor Jehan site creators – I cannot thank you enough!