Marvelous Mala Mesmerises Millions

By Anis Shakur
Wednesday – September 30, 2020
NEW YORK (United States): ‘Happiness is subjective,’ is a concise statement that presumably worked well with the distinct singer of the days gone by, Mala.

“Kisay Aawaaz doon, teray siwa, dhoond raha hai tujhay pyar mera,” the film “Shareek-e-Hayat.”

Mala was born Naseem Nazli in  the then Lyallpur, Punjab, pre-partitioned India, on November 9, 1939. She had been interested in singing and music from an early age.

Fortunately, her elder sister-cum-music composer, Shamim Nazli, happened to be her first music teacher and Mala learned the essentials of music from her.

On Shamim Nazli’s request, music composer, Baba G.A. Chishti, had recorded two songs for the film 'Aabru', in Naseem's voice in 1961. In fact, it was Anwer Kamal Pasha, who persuaded Mala to try her luck in the Pakistani film industry.

In her 20 years singing career, she sang for numerous music directors. 

Her first major break in the films came in 1962. She changed her name to Mala and sang a simple composition "Aaya ray dekho sawan Aaya" (The film 'Sooraj mukhi', director, Dilshad Malik, music composer, Master Abdullah).

The film 'Sooraj mukhi' happened to be the first film of Dilshad Malik and Master Abdullah, as film director and music composer, respectively.

In 1963, Mala rendered her voice to a tragic composition, 'Dil deta hai ro, ro, duhai kisi say koi pyar na karay' (The film 'Ishq per zoar naheen', Mala-Sayeen Akhtar, director, Sharif Nayyar, music composer, Master Inayat Husain, starring, Jamila Razzaq, Aslam Pervez, Yasmeen, 'Dil dayta hai" was pictured on Yasmeen.

Perhaps, Mala was a trusted voice, everyone could rely on. What is more, the supermajority of Mala’s adorers recognised her utmost diligence to her singing profession.

The phenomenal lullaby, ‘Ja ja ray chanda ja ray,’ is a testament to Mala’s commitment to her work. The 1964 film, ‘Heera aur pathar, music composer, Sohail Rana, lyricist, Masroor Anwar, pictured on Zeba.

The highly acclaimed team of Mala-Rushdi-Sohail Rana-Masroor Anwar will always be remembered by the music lovers. All her duets with Ahmed Rushdi were super hits like the two tragic songs below:

'Aye meri zindigi, aye meray humsafar' (The film 'Ehsaan')

'Root gaye kyon' (The film 'Dil mera dharkan teri’).

Truth said, Mala’s innumerable admirers assist her achieve her legacy, as they listen to the emotionally charged tragic score, ‘Bhooli hui hoon dataan, guzra hua khayal hoom,’ the 1967  film ‘Doraha,’ composer, Sohail Rana, poet, Masroor Anwar, pictured on Shamim Ara.

Romantic songs like the two below helped Mala built reputation for herself as a singer:

'Aye baharo gawah rehna'. The film 'Saiqa.'

'Mausum haseen hai laikin' (The film ‘Aag').

The despondency and despair, which were vividly caught by Mala, were simply exemplary in ‘Ik naye moar pay lay Aaye hain haalat mujhay, her qadam aur mili ashkoan ki ye barsaat mujhay,’ the film ‘Ehsaan,’ music composer, Sohail Rana, pictured on Zeba.


Mala always sang with the appropriate diction and inflexion. Given here below are the two tragic songs:

'Ab thandi Aahein bhar pagli ja, aur mohabbat kar pagli'. The film 'Naila.'

'Mohabbat mein sara jahan jal gaya hai, zameen jal gaye, Aasmaan jal gaya hai,’ (The 1967 film 'Insaniyat,’ music, Manzoor Ashraf.)

Perhaps, one of Mala’s greatest qualities was the versatility with which she recorded one super hit song after another like the two below:


'Hai ray mohabbat hai'The film 'Insaniyat'.
‘Meray humdum, meray saathi, mein teri dum saaz hoon, geet hai tu pyar ka mein geet ki Aawaz hoon,’  the film ‘Insaniyat.’

Most importantly, with eminent music composers like Khalil Ahmed at the centre of this endeavour, too, Mala knew they will have a win-win situation they could be proud of. The song, ‘Jab raat dhali,’ is fraught with pathos and longing.

‘Jab raat dhali, tum yaad Aaye, hum door nikal Aaye,’ music Khalil Ahmed, the film ‘Kaneez.’


Indeed, Mala was proud of herself for her flawless pronunciation as is evident in the two sad songs below:


'Bhuli hui hoon dastaan, guzra hua khayal hoon' (The film 'Doraha').

'Ja, ja, ray chanda ja ray' (The film 'Heera Aur pathar’).

From the melancholy strains of 'Meri qismat bata,hai meri kya khata' (The film 'Armaan') to the songs depicting the reality of life like ' Hum bhi hain pyar kay qabil' (The film 'Kaneez'), or from the simplicity and innocence of 'Tu hai phool meray gulshan ka’ (The film 'Phool meray gulshan ka') to the jolly songs like 'Meray juray mein gainday ka phool' (The film 'Saza'), Mala excelled in every situation.

She was equally at ease with relatively light scores like the two below:

 'Dhoond rahi theen janay kab say' (Mala-Rushdi, the film 'Teri surat meri Aankhein').

'Khush nasibi hai meri,tum nay apna ya hai' (Mala-Rushdi, the film 'Baharain phir bhi Aa yein gee’).

Mala is widely acclaimed for this romantically charged song, 'Chalay thandi hawa,' Mala-Rushdi, the film ‘Najma.’

Mala recorded quite a few songs between 1960 and 1980.

Further, Mala’s popularity soared in response to public perception as well. In just one past example is the romantic number, ‘Kuchh dil ki baat samajh lay tay, kuchh samjhatay to Accha tha,’ the 1968 film ‘Samandar,’ music, Deebu Bhatta Charia, poet, Sehba Akhtar, pictured on Shabnam.

Furthermore, Mala’s commendable singing voice and immense talent is quite conspicuous in the two romantic numbers, ‘O sunn lay o jan-e-wafa, tu hai duniya meri,’ the 1968 film ‘Sungdil,’ pictured on Deeba, music, M. Ashraf, lyricist, Khwaja Pervez.

‘Dil ko jalaye tera pyar, the film ‘Sungdil, pictured on Rozina. In fact, Mala’s lilting voice is dream-like, it sounds like another worldly experience as one listens to a song filled with despair, ‘kisay Aawaaz doon teray siwa, dhoond raha hai tujhay pyar mera,’ the 1968 film, ‘Shareek-e-Hayat,’ music, A. Hameed, poet, Fayyaz Hashmi.

With tragic songs like ‘Din dhal gaya,’ Mala not only excelled within the recording studio, she was also honored with awards. ‘Din dhal gaya suraj ka kaheen naam naheen hai, o wada shikun ab bhi teri shaam naheen hai,’ the 1969 film ‘Baharain phir bhi Aayein gee,’ pictured on Zeba, music, Shamim Nazli, elder sister of Mala.

The overwhelming success of the  highly romantic score, ‘Pyar kay naghmay,’ took Mala to the forefront of the then Pakistani cinema. ‘Pyar kay naghmay kis nay cheiray mein to kho gaye, bohut roka tha dil nay phir bhi unki ho gaye,’ music, Shamim Nazli, pictured on Zeba, the film ‘Baharain phir bhi Aayein gee.’ 

Also, let us have a look back at the following dream music compositions: 'Ye sama pyara, pyara, ye hawayain thandi, thandi, jee chahata hai mera, kho jaa yain hum yahaan,’ (The 1967 film ‘Darshan,’ pictured on Shabnam.

To be honest to the readers, I do not know what the wind whispered in Mala’s ear, that had her sing,’Hawa nay chupkay say kehdia kia, keh phool lehra kay hans paray hain, ye kaisi dil mein umang jaagi, keh hum bhi Sharma kay hans paray hain,’ the 1966 film ‘Lori,’ music, Khalil Ahmed, lyricist, Himayat Ali Shayer, pictured on Saloni.

What I do know is, eminent Lebanese-American writer, Khalil Jibran, said, ‘if you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.’

The tragic song, 'Ghaeroan say pyar kiya,’ is exemplary for Mala’s excellent rendition as usual. The film 'Baharain phir bhi Aa yein gee,’ pictured on Zeba. The two songs below added even more credibility to Mala’s singing career. 'Din dhal gaya, suraj ka kaheen naam naheen hai, o wada shikan ab bhi teri shaam naheen hai.’

‘Gham-e-dil ko in Aankhoan say chalak jana bhi Aata hai, 'Tarapna bhi hamay Aata hai, tarpana bhi Aata hai'(The 1965 color film 'Naila', director, Sharif Nayyar, based on Razia Butt's novel, music composer, Master Inayat Husain).

Apparently, Mala’s dedication to the cause of music through her efforts was tireless as is evident in the song, ‘Dil kay veranay mein ik shama roshan hai ab tuk,’ the film ‘Naila.’

Mala’s readiness to new challenges  and her utmost dedication to her profession lead to more success stories as is reflected in these two songs:

'Mujhay Aarzu thi jis ki, wo payam Aa gaya hai'. The film 'Naila.'

'Haal-e-dil Aaj hum suna yein gey' (The film 'Chiragh kahan roshni kahan’).

The romantic number' Humsafar lay chal wahan, jhoomtay hain dil jahan' (The film 'Mein kahan, manzil kahan') is listed in Mala’s numerous accomplishments.

Mentioned here below are the two perennial favourites of Mala:

'Mein sadqay mein wari, meri jaan' (The film 'Dil kay tukray').

'Chana way char kothay tay' (The film ‘Malangi').

These two songs were brought to life in Mala’s lilting voice:

'Mujhay pyar sikha day' (The film 'Do Aansoo').

'Jab tasawwar mein kabhi Aap ko' (The film 'Shab bakhair’).

Likewise, these two songs lend immense credence to Mala’s singing voice:

'Teray gham say mohabbat ho gaye hai' (The film 'Shab bakhair').

'Bansi bajaye koi nadia kinaray' (The film 'Jaag utha insaan’).'

Mala recorded this song with the confidence of an established singer and rightly so:

‘Jaan-e-bahaar Aaya, dil ko qaraar Aaya' (The film 'Farz').
This lullaby in Mala’s mellifluous voice is worth listening, 'Aaja ree pyari nindia' (The film ‘Majboor').

Mala, who was destined to be a highly distinguished singer, recorded 'Ik zindigi samajh kar apna liya tha tujh ko'  for the film 'Rim jhim’.

Additionally, Mala's greatest contribution was 'Akele na jana'. The song was an extremely tragic combination of torment and anguish. Her voice was immaculate, which matched the tragic scene in the movie.

Mala teamed up with Sohail Rana and this mutual understanding led not only to the greatest super hit song in the annals of  Pakistani film industry, but also to the first platinum jubilee film of Pakistan.

The emotions conveyed by the profundity and intonation of this great singer filled even men's eyes with tears, leave alone women!

The dramatic affect which Mala's lilting voice, Sohail Rana's tragic composition and Masroor Anwar's magnificent lyrics produced , had never been witnessed before or thereafter.

The film 'Armaan' is, indeed, more than a movie. It is a tribute to a dream that is being kept alive by the classic Pakistani values.

As time passed, Mala grew stronger, talent wise. Mala’s commendable voice and huge talent is reflected in these two songs.

‘Meray perdesi babu, mujhay tum bhool na jana, the 1969 film, ‘Fasana-e-dil,’ music, M. Ashraf, lyricist, Khwaja Pervez.

‘Pyar ka haq hai zamanay mein sabhe ko laikin, pyar karnay ka sila sub ko kahan milta hai,’ the 1969 film, Ishara,’ music, Sohail Rana, poet, Masroor Anwar, pictured on Rozina.

Obviously, it was Mala’s distinctive voice and inimitable style that made a household name in the 1960S. All her songs has long-lasting impact on the listeners like, ‘Mera naam, tera naam, saath, saath hoga sayyan kuchh arsay kay baad,’ the 1969 film, ‘Jaisay jaantay naheen,’ music, Nisar Bazmi, songwriter, Masroor Anwar, pictured on Rozina.

Apparently, the real value of the songs comes from those who keep them pristine – our listeners. One such song is ‘Tunay baar, baar, kiya mujhay bay qarar,’ the 1969 film ‘Saza,’ music Nashad, poet, Qateel Shifai, pictured on Rozina.

A rapidly growing listenership provided our artists an impetus to come up with more songs like ‘Kis nay tora hai dil huzoor ka,’ kis nay thukraya mera pyar,’ the 1970 film ‘Rangeela,’ music, Kamal Ahmed, lyricist, Khwaja Pervez, pictured on actress Saiqa.

Surely, Mala stayed true to her singing capabilities and confidently recorded ‘Tu hai phool meray Gulshan ka,’ 1974 film ‘Phool meray Gulshan ka,’ music, M. Ashraf, songwriter, Masroor Anwar, pictured on Zeba.

In the same tone, those were enjoyable moments, when Mala sang ‘Dil lay kay mukar gaya haye,’ the 1974 film ‘Shikaar,’ music, A. Hameed, lyricist, Taslim Fazli.

In 1963, Mala won the Nigar Award for best singer for the film 'Ishq per zoar naheen’.


In 1965, Mala won the Nigar Award for best singer for the film ‘Naila'.

The last days of Mala were fraught with loneliness and misery. She could not come to grips with the harsh realities of life. Not only that, she found herself in the midst of deep financial crisis.

During those days, she cried a lot, whenever she listened or sang her favourite song: ‘Ab thandi Aahein bhar pagli ja, aur mohabbat kar pagli,’ the film ‘Naila.’

I agree with ‘Highway to Heaven,’ fame Michael Landon in that, ‘whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.’ Alas! Her immense pain and suffering came to a halt on March 6.1990, when Mala said farewell to the world in Lahore, Pakistan, at 51 years of age.

These immortal lyrics will always keep her memories alive: ‘karo yaad tum nay ye wada kiya tha, hum ik doosray ka sahara banay gey,’ the film ‘Armaan.’

We lost Mala 30 years ago, but she continues to astound millions of her admirers through her outstanding songs.

She will never vanish from our thoughts, because artists like Mala are rare as a century flower. Mala will always live in her superlative songs.



Next in TDR’s Classics, “Zeba Sahiba”

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.


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