Shamshad Begum believed that artistes never die,their work keeps them alive forever. As we hum Kabhi aar kabhi paar,Leke pehla pehla pyar and Kajra mohabbatwala among others,we agree. Talk looks back at some of Begums iconic melodies and what they mean. Her contemporaries remember her.
She had a fantastic,rustic voice. She didnt flaunt classical artistry but had a simple,folk-type approach to her singing. I dont have anecdotes about her because she never talked much except about work during recordings,and would never be present at parties or public appearances. But I remember that her voice was so clear and powerful that the microphone had to be placed two feet away from her during recordings.
Anandji Virji Shah,
Music composer,Kalyanji-Anandji duo
Hers was a beautiful voice and no wonder she was considered the best playback singer in the 40s and 50s. I have spoken to Shamshad Begum only once and that too over the phone. It was a few years ago and she had wished me the best for my work. I still hold that as a precious memory.
Singer and Music composer
She had a typical voice,very folksy,which suited a particular kind of singing. Her best work was with composer OP Nayyar. Both of them belonged to Punjab and perhaps they understood each other really well. OP Nayyar saab had once said,Shamshad Begumji ki awaaz mandir ki ghanti ki tarah thi. He meant to say that it always stood out. Her best work was in films such as CID and Naya Daur.
Grew up listening to her songs. Her voice had amazing tonal quality,which made it possible for her to be diverse with the kind of songs she sang. I particularly enjoy Saiyan Dil Mein Aana Re (Bahar) and Ek Do Teen Aaja Mausam Hai Rangeen (Awaara). People who knew her used to say that she was also a beautiful human being,which perhaps also showed in her work.
As one of the first female playback singers of the Hindi film industry,Shamshad Begum gave us some unforgettable hit songs that we all hum even today. Her crystal clear voice with a tinge of twang will ring forever in the ears of music lovers for years to come.
Suvarnalata Rao,Programming Head,
National Centre for the Performing Arts