The Superhits of Shamshad Begum
Legendary playback singer Shamshad Begum, who mesmerised music lovers with her classic songs, died at her Mumbai residence from age-related ailments On April 23. We pay her a tribute here.
Know a voice that wears the curve of a smile, the twinkle of mischief in the eyes, an indomitable zest for life?
And the unanimous answer shall be Shamshad Begum.
Her ebullient singing is synonymous with light-hearted banter and saucy propositions but her range wasn't restricted to rapture. The legendary singer flexed her skills to convey heartache with just as much potency making her unique from her contemporaries.
Born in Amritsar, the genial and accessible Shamshad Begum didn't get any official training in music since her family wasn't too keen on her pursuing it as a profession. Eventually, she convinced them and sang for her first film in Punjabi -- Yamla Jat -- under the great composer Ghulam Haider. Her songs caught on and so did her popularity, which soared with hit numbers from Aag, Aan, Deedar, Babul, Awaara, CID, Naya Daur, Mother India, Mughal-E-Azam and Kismat.
Her ageless appeal is reaffirmed from the fact that most of her big hits have been transformed into successful remixes.
The 94-year-old Padma Bhushan recipient, who made some of her most memorable songs with music directors like Naushad and O P Nayyar, passed away on April 23. But the splendor of her songs, the euphoria it generates will live on for time immemorial.
Here's a tribute to the melodious legend with a compilation of her 10 most popular songs.
Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon, Patanga (1949)
Patanga's 1949 chartbuster has enjoyed many a decades of glory . Here's why:
C Ramachandran's sprightly song, Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon illustrates the woes of long-distance romance through Shamshad Begum's impish complains over the 'telephooone' and Chitalkar's equally sporty response picturised on a radiant Nigar Sultana and the yesteryear comedian Gope.
Image: Nigar Sultana in Patanga
Chhod Babul Ka Ghar, Babul (1950)
In the Dilip Kumar-Nargis tragedy, Shamshad Begum pours her heart out to convey both the thrill of a becoming a new bride as well as the agony of leaving her father's home behind.
The ease with which she switches tracks from mirth to melancholy for this Naushad composition is most commendable.
Image: Nargis in Babul
Saiyan Dil Mein Aana Re, Bahar (1951)
Vyjayanthimala made her Hindi film debut in this remake of M V Raman's Vazhkai, with songs composed by Sachin Dev Burman.
The puckish, exultant notes of Shamshad Begum's perky rendition flawlessly echo the romantic notions of naive young girl, portrayed by the fresh-looking Vyjayanthimala.
Image: Vyjayanthimala in Bahar
Ek Do Teen, Awara (1951)
While a glamorous Cuckoo romps seductively in a side slit skirt inside a smoke-filled bar, Shamshad Begum provides her moves all the necessary enticement behind the screen with her inimitable, sharp singing.
The ditzy Shankar-Jaikishen chartbuster, which would be dubbed as an item number in today's scenario, was quite a rage back then and still commands its loyal list of listeners.
Image: Cuckoo in Awara
Kabhi Aar Kabhi Paar, Aar Paar (1954)
The playful quality of Shamshad Begum's vibrant singing made her an ideal choice for ched-chaad songs. And music director O P Nayyar understood this better than anyone else.
It's a pleasure to hear her spot the sparks between a budding couple -- Guru Dutt-Shyama -- and tease them about it in the exuberant Kabhi Aar Kabhi Paar.
Image: Guru Dutt and Shyama in Aar Paar
Kahin Pe Nigahen Kahin Pe Nishana, Leke Pehla Pehla Pyaar, Boojh Mera Kya Naam Re CID (1956)
Raj Khosla's CID easily ranks among O P Nayyar's best works and it offered Shamshad Begum an extensive platform to showcase her peppy vocals.
It's a tie between her three impossible-to-pick-one-favourite songs from -- the sly cues of Kahin Pe Nigahen, the jubilant charms of Leke Pehla Pehla Pyaar and the lyrical enchantment of Boojh Mera Kya.
Image: Waheeda Rehman in CID
Reshmi salwar kurta jaali ka, Naya Daur (1957)
Kum Kum and Minoo Mumtaz perform the lively Bhangra/Punjabi folk beats of Nayyar's Reshmi Salwar on screen.
While Asha Bhosle lends her syrupy texture for Mumtaz in a boy's get-up, Shamshad Begum croons the part for a demure Kum Kum in this evergreen dance number.
Image: Mumtaz and Kum Kum in Naya Daur
Holi Aayi Re Kanhai, Mother India (1957)
In the celebratory Holi song from Mehboob Khan's epic starring Nargis, Sunil Dutt, Raaj Kumar and Rajendra Kumar, Shamshad Begum lends the melodramatic proceedings a breather of colours and elation with her classical delivery of Holi Aayi Re Kanhai.
She also collaborated with Naushad on its other tracks like O Gaadiwale and Pi Ke Ghar Aaj Pyaari Dulhaniya Chali.
Image: Raaj Kumar and Nargis in Mother India
Teri Mehfil Mein Kismat, Mughal-E-Azam (1960)
It's a clash of the legendary songstresses. Shamshad Begum teamed up with Naushad on K Asif's period romance, Mughal-E-Azam in the confrontational qawaali over matters of the heart with Lata Mangeshkar.
Begum's dedicated alaaps and gracefully rising pitch and Mangeshkar's silvery strength combine to create a memorable moment in cinema -- on screen and off it.
Image: Meenu Mumtaz and Nigar Sultana in Mughal-E-Azam
Kajra Mohabbat Wala, Kismat (1969)
The scenario is a tad similar to Naya Daur's Reshmi salwar.
Only here, Babita is dressed up like a lad while Biswajeet slips into a lehenga. Again, Asha Bhosle is the voice for the girl masquerading as the boy while Shamshad Begum gamely lends her distinct tone to essay Biswajeet in a drag. Needless to the song turned out to be an enduring success.
Hai Re Mein Tere Kurbaan, indeed.
Image: Babita and Biswajeet