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A Collection of Kashmiri Music, Bhajans and Prayers for Kashmiri Pandit Festivals

Runa Laila



Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Born in a family of music lovers in Bangladesh, Runa started learning classical Runa Laila music at a very early age, and received vigorous training from Ustad Habibiddin Khan. She made her first public debut as a singer at the age of six and cut her first disc for a Pakistani film called "Jugnu" at the age of twelve. Runa's carrier as a singer came by accident. It was her elder sister Dina who first got the break, but on the day of her performance, she developed a sore throat and Runa was asked to stand in. She was so little that she could not hold the 'tanpura'. She held it horizontally and sang a 'kheyal'. And she became an instant hit. Sister Dina would have followed in her footsteps, but she had to give up singing when she married. She later died of cancer. In memory of her sister, Runa held six concerts in Bangladesh and donated the entire proceeds to a children's hospital in Dhaka to build a cancer ward which has been named after her sister.

    Runa can sing in seventeen languages. Besides her native Bengali, she is also proficient in Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Sindi, Gujrati, Poshtu, Baluchi, Arabic, Persian, Malay, Nepalese, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, French and of course in the English language. Runa Laila has also earned wide fame for her stage and TV performances, specially in Pakistan, where Runa Laila is considered as their own. She has been immensely popular with film goers as well in that country. She has had her own television series fortnightly in Pakistan called Bazme-Laila which had been widely acclaimed by critics and audience. She appeared in the popular Pakistan series Yes Sir - No Sir in which she proved to be able match to Moen Akhtar, the celebrated host of the chat show.

Runa has sung and recorded well over 5000 songs to date. She will feature in the Guiness Book of Records for recording the largest number of songs in a single day. This happened in Bombay, where she cut four albums recording 40 songs: 30 of these in three days.

Besided being a household name in her home country, Bangladesh, she is famous in neighboring India and Pakistan too. She is also well known among the Asian expatriates all over the world, including the United States, Europe and the Middle East and Far East.

In India, she is the Dama dam girl, who almost posed a threat to the near-monopoly of the invincible singing sisters of Lata Mangeskar and Asha Bhosle. Runa was an over-night hit when she made a sensational entry into the Hindi filmdom with her Ek Se Badkar Ek which she sang for the film Ek Se Badkar Ek in 1974. Music lovers all over India were swinging to the rhythmic beat of Dama Dam Mast Qalander. Her songs in Gharonda, which was released later, also went down very well with Indian audience. After that she withdrew from Bombay, but still remained popular in the south Asian country. She has since made occasional forays to the "Hollywood of the East" to make albums, all of which turned out to be best-sellers. Her toe-tapping "Super-Runa", which she cut for EMI Music Company along with Bappi Lahiri, has won her gold and platinum discs. She recorded "Loves of RUna Laila", with celebrated film music director of Pakistan Nayyar which has gone double platinum. She has recorded in some more Hindi films since including "Jane-Bahar", "Sapan Ka Mandir" and the Amitabh Bachchan starred "Agni Path".

Runa has travelled to several parts of the world to give performances. She has had concerts in North America and Canada many times and had given recitals at the Kennedy Center in Washington and at the Lincoln Center and Madison Square Gardens in New York. In London, Royal Albert Hall, Wembley Arena and Wembley Conference Center have been venues for her successful programs many times. She has also performed in many other parts of the world, including Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Nepal, Malaysia, Holland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Sweden, Oman, Doha, India and Pakistan. She has also done a lot of charity concerts all over the world for several worthwhile causes.

During her long and distinguished career in music, she has received around 150 awards in various countries. They include the Saigal Award in India, Nigar Award (twice), Critics Award, Graduate Award (twice) as well as gold medals by the National Council of Music as the best singer of the year in Pakistan and the Independence Day Award and National Film Award (twice) in Bangladesh.

Source: Sanskriti Website

NOTE: The following Kashmiri song sung by Runa Laila in mid 70s was a super-hit in Kashmir.

Kati chukh nundbanay (Lyrics: Mahjoor)

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