Pavithra wrote on 11 Aug 2008
Shamshad Begum was born on April 14 in 1919 and is an Indian singer who was one of the first playback singers in the film industry. Shamshad Begum was born in Amritsar, Punjab. She was a big fan of K.L. Saigal and watched Devdas 14 times. She initially earned 15 rupees per song and was awarded 5000 on the completion of the contract on jenaphone. She started her radio career on Peshawar Radio and contributed works in Lahore, Delhi etc. She made her debut on radio in Lahore on December 16, 1937 captivating the hearts of listeners with the enchanting depth of her voice. The then AIR Lahore helped her in entering the world of movies as frequent broadcasting of her songs induced music directors to use her voice for film songs.
The Lahore-based composer Ghulam Haider used her voice proficiently in 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, Shamshadh Begum’s voice serenaded the movie Humayun, when Mehboob Khan launched it. Master Ghulam Haider used Shamshad Begum's voice in the film. The song 'Naina Bhar Aaye Neer..' captured the imagination on the country. Shamshad recorded "naats" and devotional music for a couple of gramophone recording companies. Her crystal clear voice caught the attention of the sarangi maestro Ustad Hussain Bakshwale Saheb, who took her in as his disciple. She is known for her singing of one of the first Westernised songs, Meri jaan...Sunday ke Sunday by C. Ramchandra. O.P.Nayyar describes her voice as that of a "temple bell" for its clarity of tone. That was the time when Amirbai Karnataki was considered number one playback singer in Bombay. With the introduction of Shamshad Begum in the film world in Bombay, contemporary composers almost fell over each other in booking her for the recording of their songs leading to an extremely prolific career till the mid to late 1950s. Music directors like C. Ramchandra, S.D. Burman, Naushad, and O.P.Nayyar idolized her as their prime female vocalist in the early part of their careers. Shamshad became a national rage between the 1940s and the late 1950s rendering songs with her nasal voice, which helped her carve her unique image with a voice very different from her peers--Lata, Asha, Geeta, etc. Most of her songs were memorable hits. Even the one rendered in 1960s for Kismat, after her retirement, Kajra mohabbatwala ankhiyon... composed by O.P. Nayyar, proved a superhit. Her duet with Kishore Kumar, Meri neendon main tum...from Naya Andaz similarly, is one of the most memor4able songs of the Hindi film industry. Mumbai had already been acknowledged as the country’s film capital, Shamshad went there in the late 1930s to try her fortune. She was immediately signed in by master music directors like Naushad Ali, Ram Ganguly, S.D. Burman, O.P. Nayyar, and Khemchand Prakash. Throughout her film singing career, she remained a particular favorite with Naushad and Nayyar who used her voice not only to its fullest range but to the maximum extent possible. She became a rage with songs like O, Lagi Lagi (Aaan), Dhadkar Mera Dil (Babul), Teri Mehfil Main Kismat Azma (Mughal-E-Azam), Chhau Main Rakha Virana (Deedar), Holi Aayi Re Kanhai (Mother India), all hits for which music was directed by Naushad. Similarly, she gave superhits for Nayyar like Kabhi Aar, Kabhi Paar (Aar Paar), Poochh Mera Kya Naam Re, Nadi Kinare Gaon Re (CID). Among other notable numbers she rendered were Saiyan Dil main Aana Re, Aake Chhup Na Jana Re (Bahaar - S. D. Burman), Ai Dil Na Mujhe Yaad Dila (Saawan Aaya Re - Khemchand Prakash) and Kaahe Koyal Shor Machaye (Aaag - Ram Ganguly).
Shamshad Begum, the nasal-voiced legendary classical and playback singer of yesteryears stayed at Hiranandani Gardens, Powai in Mumbai. She was living there with her daughter.