Irene Perveen: Pristine Perennial Performances

By Anis Shakur
Friday – October 30, 2020
NEW YORK (United States): “Kardo bhala kisi ka, hoga bhala tumhara,” Irene in the film “Maan Kay Aansu.” ‘The key is remembering that every hurdle crossed is one less hurdle in pursuit of your personal ambition,’ is a statement that holds true to the famed singer of yesteryear, Irene Perveen.

Irene, who was born in 1940, and who is of Christian faith, hails from Lahore. Because of her desire and hard work, she made a name for herself and her movies.

Irene, whom her adorers affectionately call Irene Jee, had a flair for music as a child and she began studying music at a young age. Irene made her debut as a singer in the film ‘Noor-e-Islam,’ theatrical release was on November 1, 1957, when Irene was seventeen years of age.

One of Irene’s accomplishments is that her understanding of the lyrics is seamless. The spirit of those earlier days is still alive as is evident in the romantic score, ‘youn cheir gaye dil kay taar, mera sansaar khushi say jhoom utha,’ the 1958 film ‘Mumtaz,’ music composer, Sheheryaar, lyrics, Liaquat Sehbai.

In addition, Irene routinely made herself available to her colleagues. Known for her charming demeanour, Irene was also instrumental to party hearty song, ‘Aik say do, aur do say chaar, hum golay Aaj bana yein gey,’ the 1959 film ‘Gulshan,’ music composer, Rasheed Attre, poet, Qateel Shifai.

This sincere prayer added to Irene’s success, ‘teray dwar Aaye ray, bigri bana day mori,’ the 1960 film ‘Shehbaz,’ music composer, Khadim Husain, poet, Tanvir Naqui.

More surprising is the fact that Irene never lost her sway for a moment in her illustrious music career that lasted fifteen years. The two songs below scaled the height of popularity in the ambient era: ‘been bajanay walay, matwalay, teri been ka jadu maar gaya.’ Irene- Nazeer Begum, music, Manzoor Ashraf, the film ‘Saperan,’ December 8, 1961, director, Shabab Kiranvi. ‘Aik sapera bun kay lutera lutenay Aaya.’ The film ‘Saperan.’

Apparently, Irene had given the most precious gift to the innumerable music buffs. It was the gift of a free and loving heart. Irene’s performance shines through in the birthday song, ‘Aaj meray munnay ki saalgira hai, lub pay dua hai,’ the 1961 film ‘Surayya,’ music, M.A. Munno, lyricist, Aadil.

Perhaps Irene’s unrequited love towards her extended family is best reflected in ‘pyari Bhabhi, Bhabhi naheen tu meri maa hai,’ duet, Irene- Master Mushtaq, music, Tasadduq Husain, lyricist, Musheer Kazmi, the 1962 film, ‘Mera kiya Qusoor.’

Essentially, every fan gets nostalgic as he listens to the wedding song in Irene’s mellifluous singing voice. ‘Bholi dulhaniya ka jeeya lehraye,’ the 1962 film ‘Aanchal,’ duet, Irene – Naseema Shaheen, music composer, Khalil Ahmed, poet, Himayat Ali Shayer.

The tenderness and joy in Irene’s voice is quite evident in these three songs: ‘Teray husn ka darshan ho, jaaye ik din.’ Irene- Masood Rana, music, Deebu Bhattachariya, the film ‘Banjaran,’ September 14, 1962. ‘Luchhkay kamariya mori mein nazuk chori,’ Irene- Masood Rana. The film ‘Banjaran.’ ‘Patt ghunghat kay khol tu Aaja babujee .’ Irene- Masood Rana, the film ‘Banjaran.’

Apparently, Irene is most well known for her song that would bring in tears even in the eyes of stone-hearted people. That was a group effort. An individual could not have done all that. Yes, I am referring to the song below, which depicts the harsh reality of life:

‘Itnay baray jahan mein koye naheen hamara, duniya ki thokaroan mein phirtay hain bay sahara.’ Chorus,Irene- Nazeer Begum, Khadim Husain, director, Shabab Kiranvi, music, Manzoor Ashraf, the 1963 film ‘Maan kay Aansu.’ Obviously, every adorer loves every song of Irene in an admirable way. One such song is ‘Do din mein badal gaye duniya, teray pyar say jal gaye duniya.’ The 1963 film ‘Shararat,’ solo, Irene, music composer, Deebu Bhatta Chariya, poet, Masroor Anwar.

This song keeps the viewer engaged in the romantic story ‘O jan-e-mun zara ruk ja, ye ada na hum ko dikha, hum nay mana.’ Irene- Masood Rana, Ahmed Rushdi, music, Deebu, the 1963 film ‘Qatal kay baad.’ In the vast array of songs is ‘Tum bhi sharabi ho, mein bhi sharabi, bhar lo jaam-e-sharab.’ Irene- Munir Husain, music, Khalil Ahmed, songwriter, Himayat, Ali Shayer, the film ‘Daman.’ October 4, 1963.

Here is a song that established Irene as a foremost singer of high repute, ‘Kaisay uthaon najaria ray.’ Irene, the film ‘Daman.’ Intelligent in slow numbers, Irene was exceptionally artistic in faster scores as well. Example, ‘Duniya rail gari hai, sanp ki sawari, jo samjhay wo khilari, na samjhay wo anari, O bhayya.’ Singers, Irene- Baby Rubina- Masood Rana- Ahmed Rushdi, music, Deebu, songwriter, Fayyaz Hashmi, the 1964 film ‘Beti.’

Its equivalents are songs like,’Bura maan kar kahan chal diye, ye to ishq walo kar farz hai, Aadaab arz hai.’ Singer, Irene- Masood Rana, music, Deebu, songwriter, Masroor Anwar, the 1963 film ‘Shararat.’ In the endless list of hits are songs like ‘Gali mein dil baichun, naam mera dildaar, itna achha, itna sasta.’ Singers, Irene- Masood Rana, music, Deebu, songwriter, Masroor Anwar, the 1964 film ‘Shararat.’

Irene’s rare passion and feeling is highly laudable in the song, ‘Almadad O' Almadad perwer digaar-e-do jahan.’’ Singers, Irene- Mala, music, A. Hameed, lyricist, Fayyaz Hashmi, the film ‘Tauba.’ February 15, 1964. The transporting power of love and gentility were successfully captured in this song, ‘Ik haseen meherbaan, pyar ka ye samaan.’ Singers, Irene- Mala, music, A. Hameed, songwriter, Fayyaz Hashmi, the film ‘Aashiyana,’ October 9, 1964.

The simplicity and innocence in Irene’s voice is best described in this wedding song. ‘Ja kay susraal gori maikay ki laaj rakhna.’ Singers, Irene- Noor Jehan, music Khursheed Anwar, the film ‘Haveli,’ October 23, 1964. The utmost pain and pathos in Irene’s voice is quite evident in the tragic score, ‘phir Aaj koi tara tuta, kaun hai mera.’ Superbly pictured on Shabnam, who played a mentally retarded girl in the film ‘Aakhri Station,’ April 16, 1965, music composer Ata-ur-Rehman, lyrics, Suroor Barabankvi.

Likewise, tunes invented by music composer, Ata-ur-Rehman, retain their enchanting freshness as if they were recorded today. Example, the tragic score ‘ab to bujha do shama, ab kaun Aaye ga yahan,’ the 1965 film ‘Bahana,’ singer, Irene, composer, Ata ur Rehman, poet, Suroor Barabankvi.

Irene was a singer of the highest grade, many of whose songs became hits like, ‘Neelay, neelay, Aasmaan per baadal.’ Irene- Masood Rana, music, Tasadduq Husain, the 1965 film ‘Ye jahan walay.’ Irene is renowned for this popular song, ‘Ruth sawan ki ray mun bawan ki.’ The 1965 film ‘Zameen.’

An acclaimed singer, Irene’s many contributions to singing have embedded itself in the Pakistani psyche. Below are two examples: ‘Aaya milnay ka zamana Aaya.’ Irene- Masood Rana, music, Ata-ur-Rehman, the 1965 film ‘Bahana.’ ‘Karachi sheher ka naam hai, bachh kay rehna yehan.’ Irene- Ahmed Rushdi- Masood Rana, the film ‘Bahana.

At the peak of the singers prowess came songs like ‘Aao sakhi mangal manayain.’ Irene- Masood Rana, music, Ata-ur-Rehman, the 1965 film ‘Mala.’

The melancholy tone suffuses Irene’s whole performance in ‘Ik aur baat maani, ik aur zakham khaya, khud hum nay apnay haathon dil ka diya bujhaya.’ Irene- Masood Rana, music, Deebu, the film ‘Budnaam,’ September 2, 1966. Irene sang this song with affecting sincerity. ‘’Kaan mein jhumkay dholay, kya bolay.’ Music, Deebu, songwriter, Tanvir Naqui, the film ‘Budnaam.’

A passionate voice and millions of admirers had brought national renown to this fiery singer. Below are two examples of Irene’s sweet voice: ‘Noor-e-Khuda milay keh Habib-e-Khuda milay.’ Irene- Masood Rana, music, G.A. Chishti, lyrics, Zahoor Nazim, the 1966 film ‘Jan baaz.’

‘Deikh, deikh, deikh, teri gali mein Aaya hai koan.’ Irene- Masood Rana, music, Khursheed Anwar, songwriter, Tanvir Naqvi, the 1966 film ‘Sarhad.’ Irene demonstrated an unusual aptitude for music in her entire singing career. Below are two examples: ‘Husn waloan ko jalanay ki buri Aadat hai.’ Irene- Masood Rana, music, Manzoor Ashraf, songwriter, Khwaja Pervez, the 1966 film ‘Aa’ena.’ ‘Allah jhat pat say hero bana day mujhay.’ Irene- Ahmed Rushdi, the film ‘Aa’ena.’

The song ‘Tumhe ho mehboob meray.’ Touted as one of the most popular movie songs ever recorded, added more fame to Irene’s persona. Moreover, the song also attained iconic status when it was repeatedly broadcast on the Pakistani Radio stations for an extended period. Singer, Irene, music, Manzoor Ashraf- Tasaddaq Husain, the film ‘Aa’ena.’

As for her demeanour, Irene was usually colorful and true to herself. Below are two instances of Irene’s artistry: ‘Balma jhalak dikhaja, O balma Aaya moray duaray.’ Irene, music, Ghulam Nabi- Abdul Lateef, the film ‘Aag ka darya.’ January 24, 1966.

‘Aaha khetoan pay deikho kaisi chhai bahaar.’ Irene- Ahmed Rushdi, the film ‘Aag ka darya.’ Music composer, Ghulam Nabi, Abdul Lateef, songwriter, Josh Malihabadi.

The magic of Irene’s smile, the dazzle in her eyes and most of all, her singing voice, allow us to forget some of our day-to-day problems: ‘Maan bhi jao guria rani, naheen roothna achha.’ Singer, Irene, music, Tasaddaq Husain, the film ‘Hamrahi.’ May 6, 1966.

In addition, the song, ‘Taali bajay bhy taali bajay,’ is a testament to her honeyed vocals that made Irene the darling of the moviegoers. The 1966 film ‘Lori,’ duet, Irene, Baatish, music composer, Khalil Ahmed, poet, Himayat Ali Shayer. Soon Irene entered the golden part of her career, when every song brought new triumphs like this one, ‘Raj dularay tera jug mug mukhra.’ Irene- Masood Rana, music, Wazir Ali, the 1967 film ‘Albela.’

In 1967, Irene was a singer everyone knew, particularly this song, ‘Sola saal ki mein albeli, mein hoon lakhoan mein akeli.’ duet, Irene- Masood Rana, music, Manzoor Ashraf, songwriter, Tanvir Naqvi, the 1967 film ‘Shola aur shabnam.’ Let us honor Irene’s masterpieces as we share her sentiments in these two songs: ‘Dil na lagana ja kay dais paraye.’ Music, Manzoor Ashraf, lyrics, Khwaja Pervez, the film ‘Insaniyat,’ February 24, 1967. ‘Pyar mein sub kuchh chalta hai.’ Duet, Irene- Ahmed Rushdi, the film ‘Insaniyat.’

The song below is one reason among many as to why the public have great respect and open admiration for Irene: ‘Aye raat bata kya un say kahein.’ Duet, Irene- Munir Husain, music, Inayat Husain, lyrics, Fayyaz Hashmi, the film ‘Dewar Bhabhi.’ May 5, 1967.

“Yoon Aana kay Aahut na ho, nanhe ko ghabrahut na ho,” Irene in the film “Ehsaan.”

A heartfelt lullaby that comes from ones innermost recesses of the heart in a fascinating movie, that is a bit of a dream. However, a dream come true. Yes, I am referring to ‘Do akhian, ye do sakhian,’ the 1967 film ‘Ehsaan.’ Duet, Rushdi, Irene, music composer, Sohail Rana, poet, Masroor Anwar, superbly pictured on Waheed Murad and Baby Jugnu. Not only is that, a masterpiece like ‘Do akhian,’ one reason among many as to why Irene was Pakistani cinema’s greatest value.

Irene’s immense energy explains why every song seems to jump right out of the gramophone record and every suffering character is defended. Here are two examples: Kuchh, kuchh, mujh say milti julti bachho aik thee rani.’ Duet, Irene- Ahmed Rushdi, music, Nisar Bazmi, lyrics, Masroor Anwar, the film ‘Aag.’ November 3, 1967. ‘Mein mar gaye haye.’ The film ‘Aag.’

The listener’s imagination awakes at the first lyric of this song, ‘Waqt na deikhay raha kisi ki, jo apna lay khushi usi ki.’ Duet, Irene- Ahmed Rushdi,’ the film ‘Aag.’

Irene’s voice is both convincing and charming in the song ‘O maan, O maan.’ The film ‘Nishaan,’ Irene Perveen- Tasawwar Khanum. Irene’s voice was superlative as usual in ‘Meri zindigi kay raazdaan.’ The film ‘Tansain,’ Irene – Mujeeb Alam.

Truth be said, all her songs are worth remembering, one magnificent song gave way to another song, like the tragic number, ‘is duniya say kar shikwa na gila,’ singer, Irene, music composer, M.A. Munno, lyrics, Shorish Dehelvi, the 1968 film, ‘Chowda Saal.’

Irene prided herself on clear diction .Foremost are Irene’s two songs: ‘Hello, hello, Mr. Abdul Ghani.’ Singer, Irene, music, A. Hameed, the film ‘Behan Bhai,’ May 24, 1968. ‘Up-to-date bana hai, aur waisay bhola bhala suit boot mein zaalim tunay kaisa rang nikala.’

The public fell passionately in love with Irene’s singing voice as they listen to this romantic number, ‘Tum mujhay apni mohabbat day do, dil mein rehnay ki ijazat day do.’ Duet, Irene- Masood Rana, music, Tasadduq Husain, the 1968 film ‘Alif Laila.’

“Aisay mein koi khwaboan ki haseen shehzadi, tanha, tanha, hairaan, hairaan,” the film “Tum meray ho.”

Most definitely, every adorer can discern the sound of the lake is a rhythmic, almost melodic, accompaniment to the lovely scene as he listens to ‘Nadia behti jaaye,’ naturally, one wants the moment to last forever.

In fact, Irene’s intense, charismatic voice in the song ‘Nadia behti jaaye, behti jaaye,’ vaulted her to stardom. What is more, Irene is downright adorable in ‘Nadia.’ Duet, Irene- Ahmed Rushdi, music, Robin Ghosh, the 1968 film ‘Tum meray ho.’

The readers who are familiar with Irene’s astonishing aptitude are acquainted with the fact that Irene’s tremendous contribution to music speaks volumes nonetheless. Example, ‘Mohabbat ka wada aisay nibhana, na Aankhein churana, na daman churana.’ Duet, Irene- Masood Rana, music, Tasadduq, director, Shabab Kiranvi, the 1968 film ‘Shahi Mehal.’

Throughout her singing career, Irene rendered songs that were simultaneously poignant and playful, tragic and jolly. Here is one playful song, ‘Aray, ray, ray, mein chali.’ The 1968 film ‘Katari.’

In due course, Irene managed her performance in a way to express a genuine, intense joy and the affect was marvellous in the song, ‘Meri jaan, meray hum safar na ro,’ the 1968 movie, ‘Doosri Shadi’, ’music composer, M. Ashraf, songwriter, saif Uddin Saif.

Irene’s lilting voice is apparently one to listen. Ultimately, so is her romantic score like this one. ‘Chand bhi saamnay Aatay huye sharmata hai, itnay haseen nazar Aatay ho keh pyar Aata hai.’ Singers, Irene- Masood Rana, music, Deebu, songwriter, Wajid Chughtai the 1969 film ‘Pyar ki jeet.’

With the passage of time, Irene devoted much of her effort to rehearsing and recording songs. Irene’s innumerable adorers can never forget the unrequited love expressed in these two songs. ‘Ho dilruba kaisa ye jadu kya.’ Duet, Irene- Ahmed Rushdi, music, Nashad, the film ‘Tum milay pyar mila,’ February 7, 1969. ‘Ye haseen wadian ye samaan.’ Singer, Irene, the film ‘Tum milay pyar mila.’

Irene’s reputation for singing stood so high that she became an insignia of success, featuring exceptional musical numbers like these two songs: ‘Lazzat-e-soaz-e-jigar pooch lay perwanay say.’ Duet, Irene- Ahmed Rushdi, music, Nashad, the film ‘Saalgira,’ February 14, 1969.

‘Teray waday say meri zindigi saji.’ Duet, Irene- Ahmed Rushdi, the film ‘Saalgira.’ However, throughout it is the loving presence and the melodic voice of Irene herself that keeps the movie.

She was a devoted singer and a very likeable person. Here is one example: ‘Phool khila hai pyar ka.’ Duet, Irene- Mala, music, Kamal Ahmed, the film ‘Diya aur tufaan,’ May 9, 1969.

With her wistful voice, Irene transformed simple compositions into popular numbers. Example, ‘Kis qadar hai aitemaad.’ The 1970 film ‘Azmat.’ Similarly, this song expresses Irene’s aspirations toward taste and sophistication, ‘Aaj naheen to kal is ghar mein chand see bhabhi Aaye gee.’ Singer, Irene, music, Lal Mohammad Iqbal, the film ‘Naseeb apna, apna,’ April 3, 1970.

Perhaps, songs like ‘Tanhai mein aksar raatoan ko hum zikr tumhara kartay hain,’ are the touchstones of one’s childhood memories, which he has listened so many times. The 1970 film ‘Phir chand niklay ga,’ duet, Irene – Runa, music composer, Sohail Rana, lyrics, Anjum Kiranvi.

Likewise, this song was a harbinger of great tidings, ‘Kya dilruba hain nazaray.’ The 1971 film ‘Wehshi,’ Irene Perveen- Mujeeb Alam, music composer, A. Hameed.

Irene’s voice enraptured the listeners in this song, ‘Manay na beiri balma, mora mun tarpaye.’ Duet, Irene- Runa Laila, music, Nisar Bazmi, lyrics, Saif Uddin Saif, the film ‘Umrao Jan Ada,’ December 29, 1972.

Irene always kept a balance between her working life and her home life. Hence, her singing career never stood in the way of her personal happiness. Irene retired from the show business almost half a century ago. One of those days, Irene married Cecil Samuel who used to reside in Pakistan as well. Around 1983 Irene and her better half settled down in England.

In the years since those days in the 1960s, I have learned that I am not alone in my devotion to dedicated artists like Irene. That there is a certain hale and heartiness in Irene’s distinctive achievements. Indeed, this is what Irene Perveen’s harmonious voice is all about.

The End

Info: Eminent storyteller, Anis Shakur, is a Pakistani born United States (US) citizen. He works for the US federal and State government. He resides at a stone-throw distance from the darting shores of the Atlantic ocean in New York, for the past three decades.