Highest-Paid Actress Of 50s, Suraiya Who Quit Acting Post Breakup With Dev Anand, Remained Unmarried

Suraiya was one of the highest-paid actresses in the late 1940s and early 1950s, but the end of her relationship with Dev Anand broke her so hard that she quit acting. Know her painful story!


By Rishabh Naudiyal Last Updated:


Highest-Paid Actress Of 50s, Suraiya Who Quit Acting Post Breakup With Dev Anand, Remained Unmarried

Suraiya Jamal Sheikh, better known as Suraiya is still regarded as one of the most gorgeous and talented actresses in the history of Indian cinema. There was a time in the late 1940s and early 1950s when Suraiya was the highest-paid actress in Hindi cinema. In a nearly three-decades-long career, Suraiya sang 338 songs and acted in over 67 films.

Despite such a short career, Suraiya left a mark overseas. During the 1952 International Film Festival of India, Suraiya gave her autographed photo to the iconic director, Frank Capra to hand it over to his close friend and legendary actor, Gregory Peck, who was her huge fan.

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Meet 'Malika-e-Husn' of Indian cinema, Suraiya, who charged more fee than Dilip Kumar

One can imagine Suraiya's stature as an actress in Indian cinema by the fact that she was the highest-paid actress in India at the age of 20, as she was charging higher fees than the likes of Dilip Kumar, Ashok Kumar, and other legendary superstars. Courtesy of her beauty, melodious voice, and flawless acting, people and film critics used to refer to Suraiya as Malika-e-Husn (queen of beauty) and Malika-e-Adakara(queen of acting).

Over the decades, we have heard many legendary actors praising her. Some lauded her voice, while most of the people were in love with her screen presence. For instance, in an old interview, Dharmendra once admitted that he was a big fan of Suraiya and walked miles to see her film, Dillagi.

Suraiya started her career as a singer and became an actress by chance

Suraiya was born on June 15, 1929, in Lahore to her parents, Aziz Jamal Sheikh and Mumtaz Sheikh. The actress was just 1-year-old when her family shifted to Bombay to reside at the famous Krishna Mahal at Marine Drive. Suraiya was born into an affluent family, and it was her maternal uncle, M. Zahoor, who was a renowned actor in the Hindi film industry. Right from an early age, Suraiya was exposed to music and films, which brought her singing talent in front of everyone at a young age.

When Suraiya was in school, she got the opportunity to sing in All India Radio's children's program and became a household voice across India. While on one side, Suraiya's singing ability was grabbing everyone's attention, her innocence and beauty caught the eyes of Nanubhai Vakil, who cast her as 'Child Mumtaz' in his film, Taj Mahal (1941). After which, she got the chance to work in a series of films. Although Suriya never planned to become an actress, but she took the opportunity and explored her hidden talent for acting.

Some of Suraiya's best songs and timeless films

In the coming years, Suriya's melodious voice reached the ears of legendary music director, Naushad Ali, who gave her the chance to sing a song in his film, Sharda (1942). Naushad Ali became Suraiya's mentor as they went on to work together in a series of iconic songs. Some of the timeless songs of Suraiya include the likes of Ek Tu Ho Ek Main Hoon, Man Leta Hai Angdai, Beech Bhanwar Mein, Tu Mera Chand Mein Teri Chandni, Woh Paas Rahe Ya Door Rahe, Ta Ra Ri, Dil-e-Nadaan, and many more.

Apart from her songs, Suriya also won everyone's heart with her acting skills. For the unversed, Suriya became one of the highest-paid actresses of her time because she used to sing in her own films. Some of the best films of Suraiya's career include Ishaara (1943), Omar Khaiyyam (1946), Parwana (1947), Dard (1947), Tadbir (1943), Phool (1945), Anmol Ghadi (1946), Vidya (1948), Pyar Ki Jeet (1948), Dastan (1950), Dillagi (1949), Badi Behen (1949), and Shair (1949).

The reason why Suraiya remained unmarried for the rest of her life after her breakup with Dev Anand

Dev Anand Suraiya Love Story

Despite ruling the Hindi film industry and having a massive fanbase across the country, Suraiya quit acting and left the world of glam and glitz at the age of 34. Suraiya's lonely life was nothing less than a film script, as despite being one of the most desirable actresses in India, she lived her life without a partner. It's not that Suraiya was against the idea of being in a relationship, but it was the tragic end to her relationship with Dev Anand that broke her so hard that she couldn't move on from it.

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Dev Anand Suraiya Love Story

For the unversed, Suraiya and Dev Anand met for the first time when they were shooting for the song, Kinare Kinare Chale Jayenge. During the shooting, Suraiya slipped into a lake, and Dev Anand saved her from drowning. The incident played cupid between them, and soon they started dating. After years of dating quietly without showing their love towards each other in public, it was in 1950 when Dev Anand proposed to Suraiya for marriage. However, Suraiya's grandmother was against their marriage due to their religious differences.

Dev Anand Suraiya Love Story

Despite Suraiya and Dev Anand's multiple efforts, the former's grandmother remained firm on her decision. Not only this, even Suraiya grandmother and her uncle threatened to do something bad to Dev Anand if they would not end their relationship. It was a matter of the family's pride for Suraiya's grandmother, and the actress gave up on her love. After her relationship with Dev Anand ended, Suraiya remained unmarried for the rest of her life.

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When a fan from Jalandhar reached Suraiya's residence with a baraat and jewellery worth Rs. 2 lakhs

According to famous writer, Ismat Chughtai, once a die-hard fan of Suraiya came to her residence with a wedding procession with the dream to marry her. The crazy fan reached the actress' home at Marine Drive with his family and loved ones, who were a part of the baraat. The fan was stopped by the guards and Suraiya's mother, who was shocked to see such a thing. However, when the fan continued sneaking inside the home, Suraiya's mother called the police and force was deployed outside the actress' home for some weeks. As per Ismat Chugtai, Suraiya's fan came all the way from Jalandhar with a lot of expensive gifts and jewellery worth Rs. 2 lakhs, which speaks volumes about her craze.

Suraiya died a lonely death

Suraiya's mother passed away a few years after her breakup with Dev Anand. The tragedy broke down Suraiya all over again, and this time, she finally decided to quit acting as she could not cope with everything that had happened in her personal life. As a result, at the age of 34, when she was one of the leading actresses and singers in India, Suraiya left it all to live a life away from the glam and glitz of the film industry. It was on January 31, 2004, when Suraiya passed away at the age of 74 due to chronic ailments.

What are your thoughts on Suraiya's tragic life? Let us know.

Also Read: Dev Anand And Suraiya Love Story: He Saved Her From Drowning And Became Her Real Hero

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