Playback singer Shamshad Begum passes away
When her singing career began, Indian cinema had barely started talking. And by the time it got over, the Golden Age of melody in Hindi films was gone. In a voice that was distinctive — nasal, deep and muscled — ShamshadBegum sang an impressive cache of chartbusters spanning three decades that continue to be heard and hummed even as generations come and go.
The Amritsar-born playback singer, who passed away on Tuesday after prolonged illness in Mumbai at the age of 94, crooned evergreen hits such as Mere piya gaye Rangoon (with Chitalkar, film: Patanga, 1949), Saiyan dil mein aana re (film: Bahar, 1951), Leke pehla pehla pyaar (with Mohd Rafi and Asha Bhonsle, film: CID, 1956), Teri mehfil mein kismet aazma kar (with Lata Mangeshkar, film: Mughal-e-Azam, 1960) and Kajra mohabbatwala (with Asha Bhonsle, film: Kismat, 1968).
Ask any wedding band master, even today there’s no better bidaai song than Pee ke ghar aaj pyaari dulhaniya chali (film: Mother India, 1957) and Chhod babul ka ghar mohe pee ke nagar (film: Babul, 1950). A surprisingly high number of her smash hits were remixed: starlet Tanushree Dutta gyrated sexily to the reworked rhythms of Saiyan dil mein aana re (film: Bahar, 1951).
“Unki aawaz zordaar thi. Her pronunciation was clear. You could hear every word clearly. She was an extremely versatile singer. And as a person, she was humble and disciplined. She never threw tantrums. You can call me unlucky that I couldn’t work with her,” says renowned composer Khayyam.
Ghulam Haider, Anil Biswas, Sajjad, C Ramchandra, S D Burman and Shankar-Jaikishan, she sang for all music maestros in the 1940s and 1950s. But her biggest chartbusters came from Naushad (Jadoo, Anokhi Ada, Mela, Dulari, Mother India, Mughal-e-Azam) and O P Nayyar (CID, Naya Daur, Kismet).
Shamshad Begum first made her mark singing non-filmi songs for AIR’s Lahore station in 1930s. Her earliest film hits came with composer Ghulam Haider. “The song, Saawan ke nazare hain, from Khazanchi (1941) became wildly popular,” recalls Khayyam. That she never sang with K L Saigal remained an everlasting regret for her.
She was senior to Lata Mangeshkar. In the 1950s, there was industry gossip about rivalry between them. But the two sang plenty of songs together; some of whom are popular to this day such as Holi aayi re kanhai (film: Mother India) and Door koi gaye (film: Baiju Bawra, 1952)
Even as a child, her voice was special. “When I joined school in Lahore, we used to sing a prayer before our classes. All of us sang in chorus. One day the principal announced that there was one voice that stood out. It was mine. I was made to stand on a school bench and lead the school prayer after that,” she told film journalist Lata Khubchandani in an interview several years ago.
Shamshad Begum was proud of her voice and hated being photographed. Sixties playback singer Usha Timothy remembers an anecdote about the singer during the recording of Ae sapnon ke raja (film: Nateeja, 1969) that she co-sang with the veteran singer. Dissatisfied with Timothy’s rendition, Shamshad Begum admonished her gently, “Tumhari aawaaz kyun nahi nikalti? Abhi to tum jawan ho.” When Timothy replied, “Aapki awaaz jaisi hamari aawaz kahan,” she lit up, smiled and said, “Aap acchha gate hain, majbooti se gaya karo.”
In her long career, Shamshad Begum experienced both highs and lows. Towards the latter half of the 1960s, she started losing out on A grade banners. The power and depth in her voice, once regarded as her strength, was now considered to be too commanding to be used as playback on heroines. It is ironical that towards the fag end of her career, two of her top songs were picturized on males: The song Kajra mohabbatwala was filmed on Biswajeet (in drag) and Nathaniya hale to bada maza hoye (film: Johar Mehmood in Hong Kong, 1971) on Mehmood (again dressed as a woman).
News Courtesy : TIMES OF INDIA