Updated: May 24
Born in 1937 in Lahore, Mussarat Nazeer earned her mark by her staggering presence on screen, wedding melodies, smiling face, bright jewellery, and classic bone structure. People often say she is as graceful as Cleopatra might have been.
She completed her intermediate from Kinnaird College. Her immense passion for singing led her to Radio Pakistan in the 1950s. In the words of Khawaja Najmul Hasaan, "when the women in films would, as a rule, come from families with singing and dancing backgrounds."
Exceptions were there, like always, and Mussarat was one of these exceptions. She engraved her name in Pakistan’s cinema history by dint of her sheer talent and charisma.
Mussarat Nazeer was first offered a supporting role in the film "Qatil (1955)," where she was nicknamed "Chandni" by the director, Anwar Pasha. After which, the doors to success opened wide for her. She rivalled the likes of Sabiha Khanum and Noor Jehan during heydays with her ethereal beauty.
At the peak of her career, she married Arshad Majeed & moved to Canada. Film Bahadur (1967) proved to be her swan song as an actress. In her film career spanning over eight years, she did forty-eight films.
In the early 80s, she appeared on a BBC music show singing Zubaida Khanum's songs all over again. She also graced the Tariq Aziz show in 1983; her melodies were strumming chords in peoples' hearts.
In collaboration with Khawaja, Mussarat recorded her show "Shadi/Biyah and Dholak Geets" (Wedding Tunes) for PTV. Some of her renditions include Lathay di Chadar, Chitta Kukkar, Aahista Aahista, Mehndi Ni Mehndi, Laungng Gawacha, Aaya Lariye Ni, Mathe ty Chamkan Wal, amongst other iconic melodies from Punjabi folk music.
In 1989, "Moods & Melodies", featuring Nazeer singing folk songs on wheat thrashing, and fetching water in open fields with other supporting girls, won a special prize at Raduga International Festival of Folk Art TV, Moscow (1989). She also released a slew of albums till the early 90s.
After that, she vanished from the showbiz scene. She is hale and hearty and lives in Canada with her family. Mussarat Nazeer will always be remembered as the silver screen sparkling star or a young girl searching for her lost nose ring whose songs remain essential to Pakistani weddings.
This piece was contributed by Punnu Khan.