Shamshad Begum ( 14 April 1919 – 23 April 2013) was an Indian singer who was one of the first playback singers in the Hindi film industry. She was born in 1919 in a ‘Punjabi Mann Jatt Muslim’ family. She had a distinctive voice and was a versatile artist, singing over 6,000 songs in Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil and Punjabi languages, and of the 1287 songs were Hindi film songs. She worked with maestros including Naushad Ali, S. D. Burman, C. Ramchandra and O. P. Nayyar. Her songs from the 1940s to the early 1970s remain popular and continue to be remixed.
Shamshad Begum was born in Lahore, British India (present-day Pakistan) on 14 April 1919 in a Punjabi Mann Jatt Muslim Family, the day after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place in nearby Amritsar. She was one of eight children, five sons, and three daughters, born to a conservative Muslim family of limited means. Her father, Mian Hussain Baksh Maan, worked as a mechanic and her mother, Ghulam Fatima, was a pious lady of conservative disposition, a devoted wife and mother who raised her children with traditional family values.
In 1932, the teenage Shamshad came in contact with Ganpat Lal Batto, a Hindu law student who lived in the same neighborhood and who was several years older than her. In those days, marriages were performed while the bride and groom were very young, and Shamshad’s parents were already looking out for a suitable alliance for her. Their efforts were on the verge of bearing fruit in 1934 when Ganpat Lal Batto and Shamshad made the decision to marry each other. In 1934, despite strenuous opposition from both their families due to religious differences, 15-year-old Shamshad married Ganpat Lal Batto. The couple had but one child, a daughter named Usha, who in due course married a Hindu gentleman, Lieutenant Colonel Yogesh Ratra, an officer in the Indian Army.
In 1955, Ganpat Lal Batto died in a road accident. His death left Shamshad very distraught because her husband had been the focus of her life and they had both been extremely devoted to each other. He had handled many aspects of her career and contracts and had been major positive energy behind her career progression. After his death, Shamshad became listless and lost the fighting spirit to pursue her career, which registered a sharp decline thereafter. Indeed, while Shamshad Begum was both an outstanding singer and a successful famous one, she was at some deeper level always a wife and mother first, someone who instinctively prioritized her family over her career. By nature, she preferred to keep away from the public glare and from business dealings, taking the view that it was rather unseemly for a lady to be involved in such things. After her husband’s death, Shamshad Begum began living with her daughter and son-in-law in Mumbai, first in south Mumbai and later at Hiranandani Gardens. She gradually became a recluse and devoted herself entirely to her grandchildren, to the point that the general public was unaware of whether she was alive or dead. In 2004, a controversy erupted in the media, when several publications wrongly reported that Shamshad Begum had died a few years previously. Shamshad’s family clarified in a press release that this was not so; and it later emerged that the Shamshad Begum who had died in 1998 was Saira Banu‘s maternal grandmother. Her self-imposed seclusion is remarkable because during all those decades away from the public eye, her old songs remained popular with the public and not a day passed without at least a couple of songs being played on Vividh Bharati and All India Radio.
From the late 1980s, Begum started giving occasional interviews. In one of her interviews with Filmfare magazine in 2012, Begum disclosed “The more hits I gave, the less work I got. When I helped new composers I never told them to give me all their songs to sing. I believed only God could give, not them.” Her final interview was in 2012. In 2009, she was conferred with the prestigious O. P. Nayyar Award for her contribution to Hindi film music. She was also conferred the Padma Bhushan in 2009. Later her daughter Usha said in an interview “Because of the politics in the industry, she didn’t want to work anymore. This is one of the reasons why she didn’t let me be a singer. I told her, let me sing for my self-satisfaction, but she said if you will learn to sing, you will directly enter the industry. So, she didn’t let me do so.”
Begum died at her Mumbai residence on the night of 23 April 2013 after a prolonged illness. She was 94. She was cremated in a small, dignified ceremony.
Information and Broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said, “The film industry has lost one of its most versatile singers. Shamshadji’s style of singing set new benchmarks. Her melodious voice with powerful lyrics gave us songs that have remained popular even today.” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, “She was an artist of extraordinary talent and abilities, and the songs she has left behind in her long career, which she started with AIR in 1937, will continue to enthrall music lovers.” Her daughter Usha Ratra said “She kept herself away from the glamour of the industry despite being one of the top singers of her era as she did not like the limelight. My mother used to say that artists never die. She wanted to be remembered for her songs.
Have A Look At Top 9 Best Song Of Shamshad Begum:-
1.) Saiyan Dil Mein Aana Re – Sung by Shamshad Begum and picturized on Vyjayantimala for the film “Bahar”. Lyrics by Rajendra Krishan and music by Sachin Dev Burman.
2.) Milte Hi Aankhen Dil Hua | Shamshad Begum
3.) Kahin Pe Nigahen Kahin Pe Nishana – Shamshad Begum, Waheeda Rahman, CID Song
4.) Kabhi Aar Kabhi Paar – Shyama, Guru Dutt, Shamshad Begum, Aar Paar Song
5.) Boojh Mera Kya Naam Re – Shakila, Dev Anand, Shamshad Begum, CID Song
6.) Holi Aayi Re Kanhai (Video Song) | Mother India | Nargis & Sunil Dutt
7.) Kajra Mohabbat Wala – sung by Asha Bhosle and Shamshad Begum from film “Kismat” (1968)
8.) Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon – Patanga – Shamshad Begum
9.) लेके पहला–पहला प्यार – Leke Pehla Pehla Pyar शमशाद बेगम, आशा भोंसले, मो.रफ़ी
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