Malika Pukhraj [ملكہ پکھراج] was a highly popular Ghazal and folk singer of Pakistan. She was generally called as “Malika” meaning “The Queen” publicly. She is extremely popular for her rendition of Hafeez Jalandhri’s nazm song, Abhi tau main jawan hoon (“I am still young”), which is enjoyed by millions in India and Pakistan. Her popular numbers were, Lo phir basant aaii and Quli Qutub’s Piya baaj piyala piya jaey na and Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Mere qatil mere dildar mere paas raho.
Malika Pukhraj, was born in Jammu, in 1912, to a Pathan family. Her family were simple village people not involved in music. She was given the name “Malika” at birth, by Baba Roti Ram ‘Majzoob’, a spiritualist, in Akhnoor area, and named Pukhraj by her aunt.
Malika Pukhraj received her training from Ustad Ali Baksh Kasuri, father of legendary singer Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.
At the age of nine, she visited Jammu and performed at the coronation ceremony of Maharaja Hari Singh, who was so impressed by her voice that he appointed her as a court singer in his Durbar, and she stayed there as a singer for another nine years.
She was among the greatest singers of India in the 1940s, and after Partition of India in 1947, she migrated to Lahore, Pakistan, where she received much more fame, through her radio performances with composer, Kale Khan at Radio Pakistan, Lahore. Her voice is most suitable for ‘folk songs of the hills’ (Pahari Songs).
In 1980, she received the Pride of Performance Award, by the President of Pakistan. In 1977, when All India Radio, for which she sang until the Partition in 1947, was celebrating its Golden Jubilee, she was invited to India, and awarded with the ‘legend of Voice’ award. Malika Pukhraj also recorded her memoirs in the novel Song Sung True.
Malika Pukhraj, died in Lahore, Pakistan on 4 February 2004. Her funeral procession started from her residence at West Canal bank, and was held in the house of her eldest son. She was buried at ‘Shah Jamal’ graveyard in Lahore.
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