Shamshad Begum (1898-1998)
It is said that Shamshad Begum was born in 1898 and she was almost 100 years old when she passed away on August 14th, 1998.
The date of her death is known but the birth date is not confirmed. The nasal voiced legendary classical and playback singer
of yester years was born in Amritsar. Shamshad Begum had recorded 'naats' and devotional songs for a couple of gramophone
recording companies. She made her radio debut in Lahore in 1937. She captivated the hearts of listeners with the enchanting
depth of her voice. The radio programs helped her in entering the world of movies as frequent broadcasting of her songs induced
music directors to use her voice for film songs.
Lahore-based composer Ghulam haider used her voice skillfully in some of his earlier films like: Khazanchi (1941) and
Khandan (1942). When he shifted to Bombay in 1944, Shamshad Begum went with him as a member of his team. In 1944, when Mehboob
Khan launched his historical venture 'Humayun'. Ghulam Haider asked her to sing for that film. The song 'Naina Bhar Aaye
Neer' captured the imagination of the country. That was the time when Amirbai Karnataki was considered the top playback singer
in Bombay. With the introduction of Shamshad Begum in the film world in Bombay, contemporary composers asked her to record
their songs leading to an extremely successful career. Music directors like C. Ramchandra, S. D. Burman and Naushad used her
as their prime female vocalist in the early part of their careers. Shamshad created sensation with her songs in her very first
film Khazanchi of which the song that gained most popularity was 'ek kali naazon se pali'. After that she gave countless
hit songs like: duniya me gareebon ko aaram nahi miltaa (Zamindaar), armanon ki basti me hum aag lagaa baithe (Shirin Farhad),
dil thandi hawa me (Shama), mere piya gaye Rangoon' (Patanga), milte hi aankhen' (Babul), saiyaan dil me aana re' (Bahaar),
boojh mera kya naam re (C.I.D), kabhi aar kabhi paar' (Aar Paar), maine dekhi jag ki reet (Sunehre Din), kahin pe nigahen
kahin pe nishana' (C.I. D), pee ke ghar aaj pyari dulhaniya chali (Mother India), etc.. Her duet with Kishore Kumar 'meri
neendon me tum.' from Naya Andaz, remains a beautiful melody. Even the duet sang with Asha Bhonsle in the 60s for Kismat,
'kajra mohabbat wala ankhiyon me aisa dala' composed by O. P. Naiyyar proved to be a superhit
The popularity of her songs is evident from the remixed songs which are storming the music market. Many singers and composers
are against this remixing of the old songs but Shamshad felt that there is no harm if the younger generation is enjoying the
old songs in their new remixed version.
Shamshad was the mother of silver screen heart throb of the black and white era Naseem Banu who was born on July 4, 1916.
Naseem in turn is the mother of Saira Banu who was born on August 23, 1944 and went on to marry Hindi Films Tragedy King Dilip
Kumar when she was age 20.
Shamshad Begum became a successful singer in her 30s which is almost unheard of in the Film industry where most people
start young and fade away in their middle ages. Shamshad Begum may be gone but her songs will live forever.