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Remembering Shamshad.. 'Begum' of Bollywood playback singing.

IndiaGlitz [Thursday, April 25, 2013]

Legendary singer Shamshad Begum is now singing in heaven... popularly known as 'Begum' Shamshad who passed away in Mumbai on the night of April 23 belonged to the golden era of Hindi film music. She was among the pioneers of the golden era as singers like Nurjehan, Amirbai Karnatki and Suraiya were also there and later were joined by Lata Mangeshkar, Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhosle.

She sang for the top composers of her time like Ghulam Haider, Anil Biswas, Sajjad, S. D. Burman, Naushad, C. Ramchandra, Shankar-Jaikishan and O. P. Nayyar. But her best songs came out with Naushad and O. P. Nayyar. It speaks for her versatility, as they happened to be composers of with remarkably different styles. She sang duets with with Amirbai Karnatki, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Mohammed Rafi and Chitralkar. She gave playback for top actresses like Nigar Sultana, Nargis, Munawar Sultana, Vyjayantimala and dancer Minoo Mumtaz.

Shamshad was endowed with a deep nasal resonant voice with its own folksy touch, khanak and jhanak. Her very individual and characteristic voice led to her name and fame, but in later years Lata, Asha and Geeta Dutt were more favoured for heroine's songs, and Shamshad got songs of side actresses and dancers. Her singing did not remain confined to Hindi films as she crooned in Punjabi, Marathi, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu as well.

For a long time, Shamshad had been living like a recluse with her daughter Usha Ratra after the death of husband Ganpat Lal Batto in 1955. Her last big hit number was `Kajra mohabbatwala' composed by O. P. Nayyar for "Kismet." Government of India did take notice of her with the award of Padma Bhushan in 2009.

Shamshad was born at Amritsar on April 14, 1919. Incidentally, April 14 also happens to be the birthday of another great Indian Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. Shamshad started making her mark as a singer quite early in life when she was only 14 year old. In 1937, when she was only 18 year old, she made her debut as a professional singer with Lahore Radio, and she sang at Peshawar Radio as well. Seeing her talent sarangi maestro Ustad Husain Bakshwala Saheb made her his disciple.

Singing for films had to be the next step, and music director Ghulam Haider gave her the break with the hit film "Khazanchi." She also sang for "Khandaan."

Shanmshad was gifted with a very impressive voice and good range. She was a fan of K. L. Saigal. She saw "Devdas" fourteen times. She could also sing highly emotional songs like `Chhod babul ka ghar mohe peeke nagar aaj jaana pada' (Babul), `Peekey ghar aaj pyaari dulhaniya chali' (Mother India) and `Dharti ko aakash pukaare' (Mela).

She could sing a highly romantic duet with Talat Mahmood like `Miltehi aankhen dil hua deewana kisika, afsana mera ban gaya afsana kisika' filmed on Dilip Kumar and Munawar Sultana.

Peppy dance songs were her speciality and there is a hit list;

Mere piya gaye Rangoon (Patanga), Sainya dil mein aana re (Bahar), Holi aayee re Kanhai rang barse (Mother India), O gaadiwale gadi dheere hank re (Mother India), Reshmi salwar kurta jaali ka (Naya Daur), Leke pehla pehla pyyar (CID), Kahin pe nigahen, kahin pe nishana (CID), Boojh mera kya naao re (CID), Kabhi aar kabhi paar laga teere-nazar (Aar Paar).

There is also the famous qawwali `Teri mehfil mein kismet azmakar hum bhi dekhenge' of "Mughal-e-Azam" composed by Naushad sung by Lata Mangeshkar along with Shamshad and filmed on Madhubala and Nigar Sultana.

Shamshad did not care about quantity as the number of her songs is nowhere near any record, but she definitely scored on quality, as whatever she crooned became instantly popular with everlasting melody. remixes of her songs like Kajra Mohabbat wala, Kabhi Aaar Kabhi Paar, Leke Pehla Pehla Pyaar, Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon, 'Kahin Pe Nigahen Kahin Pe Nishana' is a testimony that Shamshad's haunting voice will always remain with us.

Listen to the gems of the legendary voice on raaga...

A great pick to stream & enjoy!


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