Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Shamshad Begum has passed away.

And some sad news that deserved its own post... Shamshad Begum has passed away. She was 94.

I will always remember her fondly for her playful, earthy counterpart to Asha Bhosle in one of my all-time favorite songs "Kajra Mohabbat Wala." Shamshad's swan song.

(And as an aside, I wonder how many actors, other than Biswajeet, were bold enough to have a woman sing playback for them.)

But Shamshad Begum actually began her career in the early 1940s and before Lata Mangeshkar's pure soprano came to dominate the playback world, her voice was the one in demand. Initially scouted while she singing devotional songs on AIR Lahore, Shamshad Begum began her career in Punjabi films and had her first big Bollywood break with composer Ghulam Haider Khazanchi in 1941. She was not a trained classical singer and her singing style reflects that. She sings with the enthusiasm and zeal of the girl-next-door.

She has bouncy, joyful style...

Her big breakthrough was with Naushad in 1946 in Anmol Ghadi. According to "Bollywood Melodies" by Ganesh Anantharaman, which I dug out this morning to consult, Naushad loved the transparency of Shamshad's voice. And you can really hear it, her feelings are laid bare.

Ganesh picks this song as his favorite collaboration between Naushad and Shamshad Begum:

It's from Mela in 1948, just before she was permanently replaced by Lata as the top female playback singer in 1949's Andaz.

She did good work in the 1950s with O.P. Nayyar, who famously wouldn't use Lata...

(From CID (1956).) But O.P. Nayyar eventually settled on Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhosle and Shamshad was left to fall to the wayside.

Shamshad fought valiantly but knew she had lost the war after being paired with Lata for the famous qawwali in Mughal-e-Azam and she faded away...

But was never forgotten.

And we remember her today.

May she rest in peace. God bless Shamshad Begum.

2 comments:

Stuart Martin said...

Great tribute to an undervalued treasure! I like that you ended with teri mehfil, since she "beat" Lata in that one, and kajra mohabbat is hard to beat. Like Waheeda, she came across as one of those wise legends who didn't constantly seek attention, but at the same time didn't hesitate to speak her mind if she felt it was worthwhile.

Pessimisissimo said...

Filmi Girl, a wonderful post on Shamshad Begum. "Tere Mehfil" is one of the peak moments in the history of cinema, and I'm grateful for the introduction to so many other delightful Shamshad Begum songs. She will indeed always be remembered.

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

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