Singing queen Suraiya battles for life

Last Updated: Sat, Jan 31, 2004 04:35 hrs

She was once the heartthrob of millions, generating mass hysteria, with people queuing up in front of her house just to get a glimpse of her beauty.

Today, the 75-year-old actress Suraiya is battling for life in the intensive cardiac care unit (ICCU) of Harkisondas Hospital, none of her near and dear ones with her. Very few people from the film industry have paid her a visit, not even Dev Anand, with whom she was said to be romantically linked at one time.

What's ailing Suraiya?

Suraiya is suffering from hypoglacemia, ischemia and insulonoma. It is a condition where the blood flow to her heart gets restricted. She is also suffering from a rare tumour of the pancreas, which causes her blood sugar level to drop dangerously, besides abdominal complications.

Dr (Col) S K P Matwankar, medical director of Harkisondas Hospital, said, “Her condition is said to be critical. She is being given the best possible treatment.”

Admitted in hospital for a week now, this is the second time Suraiya has been hospitalised after she was discharged a fortnight ago.

The actress, perhaps the last of the great singing stars and the highest-paid female star of her time, is suffering from a condition where the blood flow to her heart gets restricted and her blood sugar level drops dangerously. She has been put on the ventilator and intravenous fluids since the past 72 hours.

The actress has been living alone for several years, with all her relatives based in Pakistan. Her neighbours, the Thakkars, have been looking after her ever since she fell ill. Taking care of her continuously over the past week, the Thakkars have also supposedly taken care of her hospital bills.

“Suraiya is very close to Thakkar’s daughter Ambi. She takes her medicines only from Ambi, who is a homoeopath,” a source said. Apart from the Thakkars, close friend and film producer Pratap Rana, who is in his seventies, has also been visiting her.

An only child, Suraiya was unmarried and had been living alone at her plush residence at Marine Drive. Starting her career as a child actress in ‘Taj Mahal’ in 1941, she was basically a singer who graduated to popular cinema. She made her mark in hit films such as ‘Anmol Ghadi,’ ‘Mirza Ghalib,’ ‘Badi Behen,’ ‘Pyar Ki Jeet’ and ‘Dard.’

Her last film was ‘Rustom and Sohraab,’ after which she stayed away from the limelight completely, neither giving interviews nor making public appearances.

She broke her self-imposed exile when she made a rare appearance at the 'Screen Videocon' Awards a few years ago, where Sunil Dutt presented her the Lifetime Achievement award. While Dutt and noted music director Naushad paid her a visit yesterday, actor Dev Anand was conspicuous by his absence.

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