Melody queen Malika Pukhraj, who immortalised ghazals and whose rendition of Abhi To Main Jawan Hoon still strikes a chord in the hearts of the young and the old alike, died in Lahore on Wednesday after a protracted illness. She was 93.
Malika had her origins in the Akhnoor region of Jammu and Kashmir and belonged to a family of musicians who performed at royal concerts in Jammu.
She received her training in music from Akhtar Hussain and Ustad Ali Baksh Kasurwale, who was the state musician of Jammu.
She began her career as the court musician of the ruler of Jammu and also sang for the radio. She later started singing in musical soirees and concert platforms all over the country. Her programmes were broadcast from Kolkata, Delhi, Lahore and Lucknow radio stations.
Malika sang Raga-based ghazals. Most of her contemporaries like Begum Akhtar, Rasoolan Bai, Faiyyaz Khan and Jamil Khan also adhered to this principle. She emphasised on the depth of words in ghazals.
Besides Abhi To Main Jawan Hoon, some of her popular songs and ghazals are Mere Sham-e-Gham ko, Taskeen Ko Ham Na Royen, Haale Dil Ko Woh Pooche Aane Lage, and Bezubani Zuban Na Ho Jaaye.
In 1944, she married and settled in Lahore and visited India after 42 years through Indian Council for Cultural Relations in 1984 accompanied by her daughter Tahira Sayeed, who is an eminent singer in her own right.
Malika visited Jammu, her birthplace, and in a memorable concert she sang two Dogri folk songs. She was honoured with the All India Radio Award in 1997.
She was bestowed with Pakistan's Presidential Pride of Performance Award in 1980 in the recognition of her great services in the field of music.
She was laid to rest this evening in Lahore.