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Best Songs of Shamshad Begum

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V Kumar has been writing on Bollywood movies and music for several years, highlighting perspectives that are often missed out or ignored.

Greatest Songs of Shamshad Begum

Shamshad Begum - The First Female Singing Star of Bollywood

Shamshad Begum - The First Female Singing Star of Bollywood

SHAMSHAD BEGUM (1919 - 2013)

Shamshad Begum, born on April 14, 1919, lived for 94 years among us before she left this world on April 23, 2013. As the first singing star of Bollywood, she is part of history now, but her songs will always keep her with us, with their eternal melody that will never fade from stardom.

Shamshad Begum lived a life that was rich in experience, creativity,courage, success and fulfillment, even though somewhere along, Bollywood deserted her and ignored her talent - a loss that anyone can fathom, with a few glimpses of her singing talent that went largely unutilised after her early retirement. But what she sang is still good enough to put her at the very top of the list of singing legends of Hindi Cinema.

Born in a conservative Muslim family, she would have never been allowed to sing, but for the support of one of her uncles. Destiny helped her begin her singing career at the age of 12 years. Against all odds, she married a Hindu lawyer at the age of 15 years, but kept her faith. At the peak of her career in early fifties, she commanded a fee that was almost five time that of her contemporaries, including Lata Mangeshkar ... such was her popularity !

Here are the ten best songs sung by Shamshad Begum. They only provide a few glimpses of her genius, but that should be enough for anyone who hasn't listened to her before. For those who love her voice, nothing will ever be enough...

movie: AAR PAAR (1954)

A great Song by Shamshad Begum from the movie AAR PAAR

A great Song by Shamshad Begum from the movie AAR PAAR

Kabhi aar kabhi paar ....

Shamshad Begum and O. P. Nayyar together created some of the most hummable songs of the fifties, almost a musical genre that can best be termed as "peppy songs". These lighthearted, melodious songs are the Indian folk counterpart of the Western music that focussed on beats rather than the elongations. With genesis in Punjabi folk, these peppy songs were a rage and have not lost any of their popularity even today. This number from AAR PAAR is one of her best songs of this genre. Its lyrics were written by Majrooh Sultanpuri. An added attraction are the visuals. Created from the trivia, they reflect the creativity of the genius of Gurudutt, the director and are a classic visual delight.

movie: MOTHER INDIA (1957)

Arguably, the best ever Holi Song of Bollywood - in the melodious voice of Shamsahd Begum

Arguably, the best ever Holi Song of Bollywood - in the melodious voice of Shamsahd Begum

Holi aayee re kanhai ...

Some of the best numbers sung by Shamshad Begum were composed by Naushad, and four of them were in this very movie, which marked Shamshad Begum's return to recording after a brief self-exile following her husband's untimely demise. This song, with very impressive folk lyrics written by Shakeel Badayuni is arguably the best ever Holy song recorded in the history of Bollywood,so rich is its content and variety. The echoing voice of Shamshad Begum with an unmistakle touch of pain can be credited for its greatness. This number is also a great piece of folk dance and effectve contextual choreography under the direction of Mehboob Khan, its director.

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movie: PATANGA (1949)

A very melodious song that echoes even today in Bollywood - Another Shamshad Begum Classic with Chitalkar (C Ramachandra)

A very melodious song that echoes even today in Bollywood - Another Shamshad Begum Classic with Chitalkar (C Ramachandra)

Mere piya gaye Rangoon ...

C. Ramachandra was one of the earliest great music directors of Bollywood, and the movie Patanga is a reflection of his innovative best. However, a great deal of success of the music of this movie goes to Shamshad Begum and particularly this song. One of the great hits of the forties era, this song continues to register its presence in the psyche of the modern audiences even seven decades after it was recorded. In this number, Shamshad Begum is partnered by Chitalkar (the name by which C Ramachandra identified his own singing) to create a sensational masterpiece. The lyrics were written by Rajendra Krishna. One of her best numbers.

movie: BABUL (1950)

Dilip Kumar in BABUL - One of the greatest ever duet song of Bollywood by Shamshad Begum with Talat Mehmood

Dilip Kumar in BABUL - One of the greatest ever duet song of Bollywood by Shamshad Begum with Talat Mehmood

Milte hi aankhein dil hua deewana ...

One of the all time great songs of Bollywood, this duet is unquestionably one of the best of everyone involved in creating it. Shamshad Begum and Talat Mehmood create a magical duet with their contrasting voices with extraodinary synergistic impact. Naushad's music is everlasting and emotionally stimulating, while the lyrics written by Shakeel Badayuni are rich and meaningful. For a change, this is one of the very few duets, wherein Shamshad Begum has not overshadowed her singing counterpart. All components of this song gel together to make a great masterpiece.

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movie: MUGHAL-E-AZAM (1959)

Madhubala in Mughal-E-Azam - A great Qawwali by Shamshad Begum & Lata Mangeshkar

Madhubala in Mughal-E-Azam - A great Qawwali by Shamshad Begum & Lata Mangeshkar

Teri mehfil mein qismat azmaa kar...

Shamshad Begum was already at the peak of her career when Lata Mangeshkar gave her first few hit songs. Many feel that the self exile of Shamshad Begum from Bollywood music following her husband's untimely death was one of the factors that gave a sharp boost to Lata's career. This song was recorded much later, by the time when Lata was already firmly in the saddle. However, in this song, it is still Shamshad Begum's voice that dominates the number, almost contrasting with the dominance of Madhubala on screen, for whom Lata was made to sing. Together with Naushad's music and lyrics of Shakeel Badayuni, these two leading singers of Bollywood have created a memorable qawwali for the music lovers.

movie: C.I.D. (1956)

A great trademark number sung by Shamshad Begum - The Queen of Peppy songs

A great trademark number sung by Shamshad Begum - The Queen of Peppy songs

O leke pehla pehla pyar...

Another great and evergreen song from Shamshad Begum, the Queen of Peppy Songs of early Bollywood. These Punjabi folk based, light hearted songs are popular even today. One does not need to stretch one's imagination to appreciate the kind of rage they would have been during those days. Full credit must also go to O. P. Nayyar for creating this musical genre that has outlasted nearly everything else that he might have created. The lyrics of this song were written by Majrooh Sultanpuri. A song with which Shamshad Begum is often associated !

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movie: KISMAT (1968)

A stunning Item Number - Shamshad Begum sings with Asha Bhonsle in an eternal musical gem

A stunning Item Number - Shamshad Begum sings with Asha Bhonsle in an eternal musical gem

Kajra mohabbat wala...

This song from the late sixties is not just one of the most popular songs of the time. It is actually a sad and grim indicator of what the Bollywood missed by not being able to adequately utilise the singing genius of Shamshad Begum. In this interesting duet with Asha Bhonsle, it is the rich, instrumental voice and the folk singing skills of Shamshad Begum that gives this number its actual character, making it one of the great, light hearted classics. It was, of course, O. P. Nayyar, who composed it, making one wonder why the O. P.Nayyar - Shamshad Begum did not try more such songs in between.The lyrics of this song were written by S. H. Behari.

movie: Mr. & Mrs. 55 (1955)

Another great Peppy song composed by O.P. Nayyar and perfected by the voice of Shamshad Begum

Another great Peppy song composed by O.P. Nayyar and perfected by the voice of Shamshad Begum

Ab to ji hone laga kisi ki surat...

Another mesmerising peppy song composed by O. P. Nayyar, who was arguably the most experimental of early Music directors of Bollywood. These magical numbers that he created with Shamshad Begum as singer have many elements that fuse to create this genre. The Punjabi folk is enriched here by the choice of instrumental orchestration, and the inspiring influence of the Western music of the sixites is also hard to miss, but in the end, it was only the voice and singing of Shamshad Begum, that could complement his compositions to perfection. This number also has the trademarks of Gurudutt written over it, particularly in the visuals. The lyrics were written by Majrooh Sultanpuri.

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movie: MOTHER INDIA (1957)

Nargis in Mother India - A great Bidai song from one of the greatest movies of Bollywood. Four songs of this movie were sung by Shamshad Begum

Nargis in Mother India - A great Bidai song from one of the greatest movies of Bollywood. Four songs of this movie were sung by Shamshad Begum

Pi ke ghar aaj pyari dulhania...

This was the first song that Shamshad Begum sang after the self-exile during the mid fifties. The number has turned out to become probably the best ever Bidai song of Bollywood's history. With Bidai songs beginning to lose context in urbanised India, its greatness in this genre may remain unmatched for all times to come. The music of this all time great movie was composed by Naushad, with lyrics written by Shakeel Badayuni. That touch of pain in the voice is unmistakable too. It was the first song Shamshad Begum sang after she had lost her husband !

movie: C.I.D. (1956)

Shakila in the movie CID - One of the most melodious songs of Shamshad Begum, full of energy

Shakila in the movie CID - One of the most melodious songs of Shamshad Begum, full of energy

Boojh mera kya naame re...

This great piece of music is again a result of her great partnership with O. P. Nayyar. Interestingly, she was established as a singer with the Lahore and Peshawar Radio stations, when Nayyar used to struggle there. During those days, Shamshad Begum used to tell him that one day she would sing to his compositions, and how true her words became later ! This number is one of the most melodious songs of her career. What makes it different from eveything else is the energy that it carries without affecting its melody and sweetness. Its lyrics were writtten by Majrooh Sultanpuri.

BEST EVER SONG OF SHAMSHAD BEGUM

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© 2013 V Kumar

Comments

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on May 14, 2020:

I like this hub about music of a different culture. You shared in detail and showed me what I have been missing from your side of the world. Thank you

V Kumar (author) on April 30, 2013:

Your words are always great support and encouragement. Thanks !

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on April 29, 2013:

You put such an enormous amount of work into your hubs, and they are beautiful. Thank you for sharing info. about the music in your country..

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