Singer Shamshad Begum passes away

Mumbai, April 24 (IANS) Shamshad Begum, renowned playback singer of yesteryears who gave her voice to classics like “Mere piya gaye Rangoon” and “Kabhi aar kabhi paar”, has passed away here, family sources said Wednesday. She was 94.

Shamshad Begum, who had been ailing for the past few months, died Tuesday evening. A widow since 1955, she lived with her daughter Usha Ratra.

“She had no regrets. She lived her life like a tigress. I am proud to be her daughter,” Usha told IANS.

The funeral ceremonies were conducted Tuesday night in Andheri east at a small, private affair with a few friends and admirers attending.

“She was not keeping well for a while now. She was in ICU six months back. The last rituals were done Tuesday evening,” said Usha, 74, who’s married to Yograj Ratra, an armymen.

Among the first woman playback singers in the Hindi film industry, which has turned 100 this year, Shamshad Begum was born in April 14, 1919, in Amritsar, Punjab.

Interested in singing from a young age, she got her first break with Peshawar Radio, Lahore, in December 1947.

Later, her voice with a nasal tinge became a hit and she sang for top heroines of the era, leaving behind a rich legacy of her soulful tunes.

Some of her famous songs include “Kajra mohabbat wala”, “Leke pehla pehla pyar”, “Kahinpe nigahen, kahinpe nishaana”, “Chhod babul ka ghar”, “Saiyan dilme aana re” and “Teri mehfil me kismat ajmaa kar hum bhi dekhenge”.

She was a favourite of music directors like Naushad Ali and O.P. Nayyar.

Besides Hindi, Shamshad Begum also sang in Punjabi, Bengali and other Indian languages.

Usha said that till her last breath, her mother “survived on her own money”.

“She was a very independent woman. In fact, many a time she used to gift me something from her money,” she said remembering her mother.

Her mother was fond of eating, said Usha and added that “she didn’t have to spend her money anywhere else. No make-up, no shopping, nothing.”

“She has even left some money, which she wanted to give to charity. I would not like to reveal how much, but will follow her wish. Even when she was alive, she used to donate a lot of money to different charity organisations,” added the grieving daughter.

Shamshad Begum turned off her microphone somewhere in 1970s, and recalling her mother’s retirement decision, Usha said: “One fine day she packed her bags and came to my house and said she has left the film industry. She never looked back.”

“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.”

“She felt earlier artists used to come on merit basis, but later there were too much of politics in the industry,” added Usha.

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