Shamshad Begum

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SHAMSHAD BEGUM : A Soulful Voice that Defined an Era

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Shamshad Begum was an Indian playback singer who left an indelible mark on the Indian music industry with her soulful and melodious voice. She was one of the first playback singers in the Indian film industry and is credited with introducing a new style of singing that became popular in the 1940s and 1950s. She sang over 6,000 songs in Hindustani, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, and Punjabi languages.

Early Life and Career:

Shamshad Begum was born in Lahore, British India (present-day Pakistan) on 14 April 1919.  She was one of eight children, five sons and three daughters, born to a conservative Panjabi Muslim family of limited means. Her father, Mian Hussain Baksh Maan, worked as a mechanic and her mother was Ghulam Fatima. In 1934 Shamshad Begum was merrird Ganpat Lal Batto.

Begum’s talent was first spotted by her principal when she was in primary school in 1924. Impressed by the quality of her voice, she was made head singer of classroom prayer. At 10, she started singing folk-based songs at religious functions and family marriages. She received no formal musical training. Her singing ambitions, which she held from 1929, met with opposition from her family. In 1931, when she was twelve, her uncle, who enjoyed qawwalis and ghazals secretly took her to Jenophone (or Xenophone) Music Company for an audition with Lahore-based musician and composer, Ghulam Haider.

Musical Journey:

In 1941, Shamshad Begum moved to Mumbai, then known as Bombay, to pursue her career in music. She started her career as a singer on All India Radio in 1942 and soon gained popularity for her melodious voice. Her first break in the Indian film industry came in 1944, when she was asked to sing for the film “Zevar” by music director Naushad. 

Shamshad Begum’s journey in the Indian film industry was a remarkable one. She was one of the first playback singers in the industry and sang for over 200 films. Her voice was unique and soulful, and she had the ability to express a range of emotions through her singing.

Some of Shamshad Begum’s most popular songs include “Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon” from the film “Patanga”, “Leke Pehla Pehla Pyar” from the film “C.I.D.”, and “Kajra Mohabbat Wala” from the film “Kismat”. She was known for her ability to sing in a range of genres, including ghazals, qawwalis, and bhajans.

Shamshad Begum’s contributions to Indian music were recognized with numerous awards and accolades. She was honored with the prestigious Padma Bhushan award in 2009 for her outstanding contribution to music. In addition, she was also awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer.

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Shamshad Begum was a prolific playback singer who lent her voice to many popular songs in the Indian film industry. The versatility and range of Shamshad Begum’s voice and continue to be popular among music lovers even today. Some of her populer songs are include:

  1. “Leke Pehla Pehla Pyar” from the movie C.I.D. (1956)
  2. “Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon” from the movie Patanga (1949)
  3. “Kabhi Aar Kabhi Paar” from the movie Aar Paar (1954)
  4. “Chod Babul Ka Ghar” from the movie Babul (1950)
  5. “Kajra Mohabbat Wala” from the movie Kismat (1968)
  6. “Saiyan Dil Mein Aana Re” from the movie Bahar (1951)
  7. “Mere Sapno Ki Rani” from the movie Vidhaata (1982)
  8. “Aana Meri Jaan” from the movie Naya Daur (1957)
  9. “Dil Mera Toda” from the movie Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai (2001)
  10. “Balam Aaye Baso More Man Mein” from the movie Albeli (1955)
  11. “Kajra Mohabbat Wala” from the movie “Bairaag” (1976)
  12. “Mere Dil Mein Aaj Kya Hai” from the movie “Daag” (1952)
  13. “Chale Aana” from the movie “Arzoo” (1950)
  14. “Saiyan Dil Mein Aana Re” from the movie “Bahaar” (1951)
  15. “Kahin Pe Nigahen Kahin Pe Nishana” from the movie “CID” (1956)
  16. “Boojh Mera Kya Naam Re” from the movie “C.I.D.” (1956)
  17. “Teri Mehfil Mein Qismat Azma Kar” from the movie “Mughal-E-Azam” (1960)
  18. “Kya Huwa Maine Agar Ishq Ka Izhaar Kiya” from the movie “Shart” (1954)
  19. “Yeh Zindagi Ke Mele” from the movie “Mela” (1948)
  20. “O Door Ke Musafir” from the movie “Udan Khatola” (1955)

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Shamshad Begum’s career spanned several decades, and her contributions to Indian music are immeasurable. Shamshad Begum’s legacy in the Indian music industry is unparalleled. She was one of the first female playback singers in the industry and paved the way for many other singers to follow. Her voice was a defining feature of the music of the 1940s and 1950s, and she remains an icon of the era.

Even today, her songs continue to be popular among music lovers in India and around the world. Her soulful voice and unique style of singing will always be remembered and cherished by fans of Indian music.


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