Among the Pakistani singers in the batch of ’70s-80s performances from BBC TV that I was recently able to upload to YouTube, one of my favorites is the Punjabi woman named Musarrat Nazir. Her singing voice is moving, often soothing, and always melodious, and her visual presentation is very enjoyable, too. She is quite expressive when she presents her songs, and she is certainly pretty also. Maybe part of the reason that she can make such a nice visual presentation in her song performances is that, like Noor Jehan, for a long time, she was a film actress, too. Speaking for myself, I can think of only one film in which I have seen her as an actress (which I will get to shortly), while I am a little more familiar with her music. But I intend to look for her films a little more in the near future, and I know there are quite a few. (According to one list I saw, there are almost 50.) I also intend to look for more of her music.
Probably the first time I became aware of Musarrat Nazir, it was from her playback performance of “Mera Laung Gawacha,” the famous Pujabi folk song about the woman who lost her nose ring. Actually, the first time I heard that song, it was probably in a remix collection by Bally Sagoo, in the 1990s. More recently – in the 2000s – I became aware of the Noor Jehan rendition of this song in the 1987 film Allah Rakha. (And that, by the way, is the version that I posted in this blog in 2009 and in 2011.) But much as I love Noor Jehan, I’ve come to realize that the singing of this song by the somewhat latter-day Noor Jehan isn’t as pleasing as the vocal performance by Musarrat Nazir in the film Dulari, which also came out in 1987. (Plus, I think the picturization in Dulari is a little better, too, though both sequences are quite weird and both star Anjuman.)
Noor Jehan and Musarrat Nazir had actually worked together before in some prominent ways. In fact, in the 1955 film Patay Khan, Noor Jehan served as playback singer for Musarrat Nazir. This film starred Noor Jehan, but Musarrat Nazir was the supporting actress, playing the vamp who stole the boyfriend of Noor Jehan’s endlessly forlorn character.
I reviewed Patay Khan on June 9, 2013, and, looking back at it, I see that I didn’t like the film much at all, but I loved the songs and the song sequences. I was also pretty critical of the parts involving Musarrat Nazir (which I called an “unconvincing seduction”), but I think that was due to a weak script and not-so-great direction. Musarrat does a perfectly fine job acting and dancing in those song sequences.
The first Patay Khan song that comes to my mind is “Do Rahi Rasta Bhool Gaye.” Here, Noor Jehan sings for both herself and Musarrat, and she did a famous job with that, switching between two characters, two different languages (Urdu and Punjabi), and completely opposite moods. Noor Jehan’s on-screen performance is very good in this song, too – but so is Musarrat Nazir’s, and if I were to review that film today, I think I would give Musarrat a lot more credit. (Incidentally, the guy whom both women adore is played by Aslam Pervaiz. I haven’t praised him because I found him quite forgettable.)
There is also a song sequence in the film that completely stars Musarrat Nazir, in which she does some nice dancing along with a chorus behind her. She is fun to watch here – certainly expressive, as always. But once again, the beautiful singing voice belongs to Noor Jehan.
I find it strange that Musarrat Nazir didn’t get to sing for herself in Patay Khan, because she probably would have done a fine job there. (There are other female singers in this film, including Zubaida Khanum, who actually does get to sing for herself.) Of course, though, there is no way that Musarrat would have sung better in these songs than Noor Jehan… Not in 1955, that is. But in a way, she did better Noor Jehan in 1987.
I want to return to “Mera Laung Gawacha” in order to show another performance that she did of this song, this time on Pakistani TV. It is rendered quite differently here – more softly, I think – but it is still very good. In fact, in this scene, she proved again that it should really be regarded her song more than anyone else’s.
And I get the impression that Musarrat Nazir gave many of her best musical performances on TV. I guess I get that impression because I am so enamored with those BBC TV performances.
Below, I’m including all three of the song performances that I had the pleasure of uploading to YouTube. My favorite of these is the first, “Main Kamil Da Dhola,” but the other two are almost equally enjoyable, for both watching and listening. And by the way, in the second and third song, she is wearing a very nice nose ring.
I guess that will have to do for this installment of my posts about Musarrat Nazir. I say “this installment” because, believe me, I will definitely be writing and posting more about this fine singer and actress in the future.