Shamshad Begum is one of the first singers of Indian film industry. She was born on 14th April, 1919 in Amritsar, Punjab. According to music director O P Nayyar, her voice was crisp and crystal clear like a temple bell. She was a premier singer in 1950s and 1960s. Shamshad Begum was one of the two female singers who survived strongly after the entry of the Mangeshkar sisters. Geeta Dutt was the other one.
Shamshad Begum started her singing career by singing for Peshawar Radio. Later she also started working for Lahore Radio in 1937. She was part of a musical group ‘The Crown Imperial Theatrical Company of Performing Arts’, which was formed in Delhi. Along with this group she performed in stage shows and also for All India Radio (AIR). Her radio work helped her to enter into the film industry. AIR Lahore used to broadcast her songs repeatedly, which caught music directors’ attention and lured them to use her voice in films.
In 1944, she moved to Bombay along with composer Ghulam Haider as a part of his team. Shamshad Begum lent her voice for Ghulam Haider in director Mehboob Khan’s historical venture Humayun in 1944. At that time another singer Amirbai Karnataki was the topmost female singer in Industry. But with the entry of Shamshad Begum the scenario changed. Many music directors were rushing to sign her for their films. She soon became the lead singer for music directors like O P Nayyar, C Ramchandra and S D Burman.
Shamshad Begum was graciously beautiful woman in her youth. Her crystal toned, nasal voice created history from 1940s to mid 1960s. In 1998 there came a rumor that India’s famous singer Shamshad Begum had died (only this Shamshad Begum happened to be actress Naseem Banu’s mother and Saira Banu’s grandmother, and a classical music singer). The legendary singer of Hindi film industry, Shamshad Begum is still with us today living at Hiranandani Gardens, Powai in Bombay. She was conferred the Padma Bhushan in 2009.
P.S : The male voice in Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon is of Chitalkar and in Kajra Mohabbat Wala the other female voice is that of Asha Bhonsle.