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Duets of Mohammad Rafi and Shamshad Begum

By: H.A.K. Walijah

A tribute to the forgotten legend – Shamshad Begum

Mohd Rafi

Mohd Rafi

There are few singers for whom the listener feels such personal & emotional attachment as for Mohammad Rafi, for few have so eminently possessed the magic gift of identifying themselves with their singing. We hear his songs every day, and grow into familiar intimacy with him as we listen. The artless benevolence that beams throughout his singing; the whimsical, yet amiable views of human life and human nature; the unforced humor, blending so happily with good feeling and good sense, and singularly dashed at times with a pleasing melancholy; even the very nature of his mellow, flowing, and softly-tinted style, all seem to bespeak his moral as well as his intellectual qualities, and make us love the man at the same time that we admire the singer. While the other singers of loftier pretension and more sounding names are suffered to molder on our shelves, those of Mohammad Rafi are cherished and laid in our bosoms. We do not quote them with ostentation, but they mingle with our minds, sweeten our tempers, and harmonize our thoughts; they put us in good humor with ourselves and with the world, and in so doing they make us happier and better listeners.

Rafi Sahab fondly used to address Shamshad Begum “Aapaji” (an elderly sister), the legendary undisputed melody queen and playback singer of yesteryear who captivated the hearts of listeners with the enchanting depth of her voice. Shamshad Begum is an Indian singer who was one of the first playback singers in the Hindi film industry. We can judge the popularity of her songs by the number of remixed songs which are storming the music market today. Most of these remixes were originally sung by Shamshad Begum. And by the popularity of these remixes one can easily judge her popularity in ‘her’ days. Many yesteryear singers and composers are against this remixing of the old songs but Shamshad Begum feels that there is no harm if the younger generation is enjoying the old songs in their new ‘avtaar’. Some of the popular songs of Shamshad Begum’s remixes are ~

• Mere Piya gaye Rangoon (Patanga, 1949)
• Saiyan Dil main aana re (Bahar, 1951)
• Kabhi aar kabhi paar (Aar Paar, 1954)
• Kajra Mohabbat wala (Kismat. 1968)
• Leke pehla pehla pyar (CID, 1956)
• Kahin pe nigahen (CID,1956)
• Bhooj mera kya naam re (CID, 1956)
• Mere Ghunghar Wale Baal (Pardes, 1950)

In the words of Shamshad Begum, “I was rendering a song, ‘La De Mohe Balamaa Aasmaani’ with Mohammed Rafi for Rail Ka Dibba (1953). There were about 8-10 lines that both of us had to sing breathlessly. I managed to do it, he couldn’t even after five takes. After the song was okayed he came to me and said Aapaji maan gaye aapko”. (Source:-Shamshad Begum’s interview conducted by Rachana Dubey). Shamshad Begum became a legend very early in life and her generosity was even more legendary. Her magnanimity, non-assertive nature and professional approach earned her the fond nickname ‘appa’ in the film industry.

Mohd Rafi and Shamshad Begum

Mohammed Rafi and Shamshad Begum sang almost 160 duets together in Hindi Films. Their first duet together was with Zohra Bai Ambala Wali Chotisee ek banayenge naiyya from Hamara Sansar (1945) with music scored by Pandit Govindram.  Some of their best known duets were composed by Naushad and O.P Nayyar. While Naushad gave them the folksy O ghadi wale ghadi dheere haank re (Mother India, 1957) and romantic Mohabbat chumme jinke haath (Aan, 1952), O.P Nayyar on the other hand gave them the westernized Thoda sa dil laga ke dekh (Musafirkhana, 1955) and heart-stopping Leke pehla pehla pyar (CID, 1956). Infact, Leke pehla pehla pyar arguably remains their most popular duet together.

Lahore-based composer Master Ghulam Haider used her voice skilfully in some of his earlier films like ‘Khazanchi’ (1941) and ‘Khandan’ (1942). When he shifted to Bombay in 1944, Shamshad Begum went with him as a member of his team. In 1944, when Mehboob Khan launched his historical venture ‘Humayun’, Master Ghulam Haider used Shamshad Begum’s voice in the film. That was the time when Amirbai Karnataki was considered number one playback singer in Bombay. With the introduction of Shamshad Begum to the film, contemporary composers almost fell over each other in booking her for the recording of their songs leading to an extremely prolific career till the mid to late 1950s. Music directors like C Ramachandra, SD Burman and Naushad used her as their prime female vocalist in the early part of their careers.

Shamshad Begum created sensations with her songs in her very first film ‘Khazanchi’, the song that gained that became most popular was ‘Ek Kali Nazon Se Pali’. After that, she gave countless hit songs like ‘Duniya Me Ghareebon Ko Aaram Nahi Milta’ (Zamindaar, 1942), ‘Armanon Ki Basti Me Hum Aag Laga Baithe,’ (Shirin Farhad, 1945), ‘Dil Thandi Hawa Me’ (Shama, 1948), ‘Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon..’ (Patanga, 1949), ‘Milte Hi Aankhen,’ (Babul, 1950), ‘Saiyyan Dil Me Aana Re,’ (Bahaar, 1951), ‘Boojh Mera Kya Naam Re’ (C.I.D, 1956), ‘Kabhi Aar Kabhi Paar’, (Aar Paar, 1954), ‘Maine Dekhi Jag Ki Reet,’ (Sunehre Din, 1949), ‘Kahin Pe Nigahen Kahin Pe Nishana,’ (C.I.D, 1956), ‘Pee Ke Ghar Aaj’ (Mother India, 1957), etc. Even the one rendered as late as 1968 for ‘Kismat’ under OP Nayyar, after her retirement; ‘Kajra Mohabbat Wala Ankhiyon Mein Aisa Dala’ proved a superhit. Her duet with Kishore Kumar, ‘Meri Neendon Mein Tum’ from ‘Naya Andaz’ (1956), similarly, remains almost a touchstone of melodious romance. She began singing — it is for her immortal voice and unforgettable songs like Piya ke ghar aaj pyari dulhaniya chali (Aan), Kahin pe nigahen kahin pe nishaana (CID), Kahe koyal shor machaye re (Aag), O leke pehla pehla pyar (CID) and Ye duniya roop ki chor (Shabnam).

Shamshad Begum was born in Amritsar, Punjab on April 14, 1919; she belonged to a large family of 12 children. She discovered her love for music early in life, but her conservative father didn’t encourage her to train in music. Fortunately, her uncle loved music and persuaded her father to send her for a music test which was being held by the popular music company Jenaphone. She was selected as the company’s artiste when she was just 13. Her first songs were non-film numbers which became so popular that she was invited to sing on the radio. For five years, Shamshad ruled the radio. When films did happen to her finally, she was already a known name.  Making her debut on radio in Lahore in 1937, the Amritsar-born singer captivated the hearts of listeners with the enchanting depth of her voice. The then AIR Lahore helped her in entering the world of movies as frequent broadcasting of her songs induced music directors to use her voice for film songs.  Her voice was unmistakable. Saawan ke nazare hain (Khazanchi) drove audiences crazy across the country. It was at this time that Shamshad Ji was invited to Bombay. She refused to leave her beloved Lahore till Mehboob Khan personally requested her to. This was in 1942 for the film Taqdeer, which marked the Nargis’s debut. Shamshad came to Bombay, she sang and she conquered. Mehboob Khan signed her on to sing for all his films.

In 1943, K Asif made Phool and Shamshad was the lead playback singer in the film. Yet again, this film went on to become a big hit and reaffirmed Shamshad’s status as the reigning superstar. Subsequently, she was considered to be the lucky mascot for every budding composer. Her spontaneous, open-throated style of singing brought alive each and every word of a song. All the composers approached her to lend her voice to their songs. She obliged, and often, for less than her usual fee because newcomers could not afford her. Looking back, Shamshad says, “I really don’t know how I got into films. I had no training or encouragement at home. But I had been singing as far back as I can remember. When I joined school in Lahore, we used to sing a prayer before our classes started. All of us sang in chorus. One day the principal announced that there was one voice that stood out among the rest. It was me. I was made to stand on a school bench and lead the school prayer after that. It was my first public exposure.” There was not a single big name she didn’t work for in Bombay. Leading music composers like Naushad Ali, Anil Biswas Sajjad Khan, C Ramchandra, Chitragupt, Shankar-Jaikishen snapped her up. She sang for practically all of Mehboob Khan’s films.

Naushad got her to sing for as many as 19 super hit films. Who can forget the beautiful songs from Aan, Mother India, Mela, Shahjehan and so on? Chhod babul ka ghar (from Aan) remains the favourite bidaai song till today. She sang over 1650 songs in languages including Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and Tamil.

Rafi Saab – Shamshad Begum Duets:

Mohammed Rafi and Shamshad Begum sang almost 160 duets together in Hindi Films.

Rafi-Shamshad Duets Song Co-Singers Film Year
Chotisee ek banayenge naiyya Zohra Bai Hamara Sansar 1945
Bala jobanwa sambhala na jaye Rupa 1946
Watan kee amanat meree zindagee hai Rupa 1946
Too Bhee Rah Mein Ek Kadam 1947
Solah Baras Kee Bhai Umariya Aag 1948
Dheere Dheere Bol Koyee Sun Na Le Actress 1948
Aji Mera Bhi Koyi Haal Suno Chitalkar Khidki 1948
Aree O Albeli Naar Lal Dupatta 1948
Chalo Jamuna Ke Paar Lal Dupatta 1948
Nanhee See Jaan Mein.. Do Chaar Din Pyaar Nadiya Ke Paar 1948
Ek Abre Siah Chaayaa Aajaa Mere Saathi Rehenuma 1948
Chhalaa De Jaa Nishaani Teri Bazaar 1949
Chheen Ke Dil Kyon Fer Lee Chandni Raat 1949
Khabar Kyaa Thee Kee Gham Chandni Raat 1949
Nigahen Ruk Gayeen..Kaise Baaje Chandni Raat 1949
Ay Saamne Aane Wale Bata Gareebi 1949
Musaphir Sadaa Geet Gaaye Chalaa Chal Jal Tarang 1949
Mil Kar Jaayen Ham Preet Jeewan Saathi 1949
Muhabbat Rog Ban Kar Jeewan Saathi 1949
Dil Se Diyaa Hai Tujhko Naach 1949
Taaron Kaa Yeh Khazana Yeh Nisbat 1949
Mere Dil Kee Ho Mere Dil Kee Paras 1949
Mohobbat Mein Kise Maalum Paras 1949
Bolo Ji Dil Loge To Kya Patanga 1949
Namaste namaste, pahele tho ho Chitalkar, Mohantara Patanga 1949
Kaliyon mein jawani aayee Chitalkar Roshni 1949
Mere paas aao mere bhole sajan Lata, Chitalkar Roshni 1949
Ai Dil Naa Mujeh Yaad Sawan Aaya Re 1949
O More Balama Shair 1949
Ai Jee Zindagi Hai Roshan Apni Chhaya 1950
Ho Kaale Kaale Badal Apni Chhaya 1950
Nadiya mein Talat Babul 1950
Sajaniya Kit Bhage Birha Ki Raat 1950
Ladka Aur Ladki Mile Pyaar Chhoti Babhi 1950
Chori Chori Mat Dekh Balam Hamara Ghar 1950
Rang Bhare Holi Aayi Hamara Ghar 1950
Teri Thirachi Nazar Hamara Ghar 1950
Mohobbat Karne Walon Se Hanste Aasun 1950
Toot Gaya Hai Toot Magroor 1950
Chod Diya Ghar Baar Rani Meena Bazaar 1950
Gori Baahon Mein Chodiyan Meena Bazaar 1950
Le Lo Ji Maharaja Dupatta Mera Meena Bazaar 1950
Mein Hun Bada Naseebonwala Pardes 1950
Apni Nagariya Chod Ke Raj Mukut 1950
Lo Pakado Sajanwa Raj Rani 1950
Chupati Mein Tujhse Kal Jo Afsana 1951
Halla Gulla Laaee Laa Dholak 1951
Lelo Lelo Do Phool Zohra Bai Jaadu 1951
Nakhre Dikhla Ke Dil Le Naazneen 1951
My My My My My Dear Aao Aao Nagina 1951
Yaa Raa Raa raa Dholak Khoob Bajao Rajput 1951
Ek Din Lahore Ki Tandi Sadak Chitalkar Sagaai 1951
Mein Mali Ka Chokra Sarkaar 1951
Mohobbat Chumme Jinke Haath Aan 1952
Gao tarane man ke Lata, Shyam Aan 1952
Bata Dil Ke Kafas Mein Kyon Jawaani Alladin & The Wonderful Lamp 1952
Ho Sake Tho Dil Ke Badle Dil Asha, Chitragupta Alladin & The Wonderful Lamp 1952
Alar Yaamaa Choom Chakaare Rote Ambar 1952
Anndaata Anndaata Oonce Parwat Annadaata 1952
Labon Pe Dekho Ji Pyar Karo Annadaata 1952
Door Koi Gaaye Dhun Lata Baiju Bawara 1952
Lad Gayi Meri Nazar Meri Lad Gayi Hangama 1952
Ae Dil Mein Basne Wale Jiwan Nauka 1952
Kya Kiya Khoon Bachhe Kaa Jiwan Nauka 1952
Preet Ke Suhane Geet Gaa Jiwan Nauka 1952
Yeh Phoolon Kaa Mausam Yeh Thandi Jiwan Nauka 1952
E Ghanan Ghanan Ghan Garje Sapna 1952
Lakdi Ke Tukde Maar Katari Sapna 1952
Ada Se Jhoomte Huve Sindbad The Sailor 1952
Zindagi Sanwar Gayi Sindbad The Sailor 1952
O Ho Tum Hase Tho Gam Sharamaaye Dana Pani 1953
Tera Mera Ho Gaya Prem Farmaaish 1953
Mere Dil Ke Musafir Khaane Mein Hazar Raten 1953
Rajaji Rajaji Tum Mere Kehna Kya Hazar Raten 1953
La De Mohe Balamaa Aasmaani Rail Kaa Dibba 1953
Chalo Chalo Chalen Ham Babool Ke Tale Alibaba & Forty Thieves 1954
Gadhon Par Baitkar Ham Shahar Ke Alibaba & Forty Thieves 1954
Chalti Chakki Dekh Kar Ek Durga Pooja 1954
Jhoom Jhoom Kar Bahaar Nache Guzara 1954
Ghar Ke Andar Parda Karen Khushboo 1954
Haay Re Haay Aji Darwaaza Ladla 1954
Aate Jaate Aankh Bachaana Mehbooba 1954
Mera Pardesi Meheman Kaha Mera Maan Ander Nagari Chaupat Raja 1955
O Leke Pehla Pehla Pyar Asha CID 1955
Mast Qalandar Damaa Dam Mast Qalandar 1955
Thoda Sa Dil Laga Musafir Khana 1955
Dhadke dhadke rah rahke dil bawra Lata, Balbir Naata 1955
Ek Haath Mein Talvaar Thi Raj Kanya 1955
Thandi Hawayen Kaali Ghatayen Sitara 1955
Hamne Jab Dil Tha Diya Chhoo Mantar 1956
Bhai Re Maine Is Alam Gul-e-bakwali 1956
Aaj Suhaani Raat Re Aahaa Aahaa Kishore Naya Andaz 1956
Jab Teri Nazar Ka Teer Chale Noor-e-yaman 1956
Pyar Kiye Jaana Panna 1956
Itna Tho Bata Do O Rasiya Roop Kumari 1956
Bolre Munna Duniya Mein Asha Sab Se Bada Rupaiya 1956
Is Raat Diwali Yeh Ujaala Yeh Kaisa Asha Sab Se Bada Rupaiya 1956
Gulabchand Ki? Hey Bhagwan Kit Jaaye Shrimati 420 1956
Tu Meri Heroin Mein Tera Hero Zindagi Ke Mele 1956
Ay Jee O Jee Kaho Badi Aaj Ki Chandi Pooja 1957
Yaaraa Liya? Husn Jawan Ishq Jawan Chengiz Khan 1957
Ghanan Ghanan? Aayi Mohan Milan Janam Janam Ke Phere 1957
Kehelaata Hai Jag Mein Tu Itni Si Hai Meri Laxmi Pooja 1957
Thodi Si Zindagi Kyon Na Govind Laxmi Pooja 1957
Subah Ut Ke Mirze Yaar Ne Mirza Sahiban 1957
O Ghadi Wale Ghadi Dheere Haank Re Mother India 1957
Dukh Bhare Din Bite Manna Dey, Asha Mother India 1957
Dil Mein  Parda Utaavo Saamne Pak Daman 1957
Mein Jaan Gayi Tujeh Howrah Bridge 1958
Iski Topi Uske Sar Miss Bombay 1958
Unchi Edi Hai Maang Miss Bombay 1958
Aji Na Na Na Karoji Karo Haan Naya Paisa 1958
Koyi Bura Na Maane Ram Bhakhti 1958
Main Jaadugar Ram Bhakhti 1958
Khayaalon Mein?Ham Pe Dil Aaya Asha Do Ustaad 1959
Yahoo Mere Gore Gore Gaal Dulhan 1959
O Mere Maalik O Mere Daata Maa Ke Ansu 1959
Ek Meri Gali Ka Ladka Milan 1959
Lamba Chora Jaat Milan 1959
Bhiga Bhiga Pyaar Ka Sama Sawan 1959
Haaye Kuch Ho Gaya Sawan 1959
Mere Ghanghre Nu Sawan 1959
Bhingchak Bhingchak Chakachak Lal Quila 1960
Jhin Chak Jhin Chak Lal Quila 1960
Husnwale Wafa Nahin Karate Love In Shimla 1960
Baagon Mein Kabutar Kaale Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh 1960
Raat Kaali Jugnu Chamke Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh 1960
Dil Ki Haalat Jaan Gaye Ham Superman 1960
Gori Kaabul Aur Bukhaara Khiladi 1961
Jhukakar sar ko baithe hain Balbir Pyase Panchhi 1961
Zulfon walon se na bhool ke bhi pyar keejiye Baghdad ki Raatein 1962
Jaate jaate ek nazar bhar dekh lo Qawaali Ki Raat 1964
Naadaan hain samajhte nahin samjhana Fauladi Mukka 1965
Aaya holi kaa tahwar Daku Mangal Singh 1966
Nadi ka kinara mendak kare shor Asha, Manhar Shararat 1972

The following list further shows some of Shamshad Begum’s solo songs as well as duets sang with other singers ~

Jab Usne Gesu Bikharaye (Shahjehan)

Singers: Asha Bhosle, Shamshad Begum Music Director: Naushad Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri


Kahe Koyal Shor Machaye (Aag)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Ram Ganguly Lyricist: Behzad Lucknavi


Dharti Aakash Pukare (Mela)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Naushad Lyricist: Shakeel Badayuni


Na Tum Aaye Na Neend Aai (Rim Jhim)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Khemchand Prakash Lyricist: Bharat Vyas


Ek Baar Tu Ban Ja Mera (Shabnam)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: SD Burman, Lyricist: Qamar Jalalabadi


Udan Khatole Pe Ud Jauoon (Anmol Ghadi)

Singers: Shamshad Begum, Zohra Bai Music Director: Naushad Lyricist: Tanvir Naqvi


Tam Tamse Jhanko Na Raneeji (Namoona)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Ramchandra C Lyricist: Santoshi


Mere Ghunghar Wale Baal (Pardes)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Ghulam Mohammed Lyricist: Shakeel Badayuni


Dhadke Mera Dil (Babul)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Naushad Lyricist: Shakeel Badayuni


Mere Dil Mein Aaye (Dholak)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Shyam Sunder Lyricist: Aziz Kashmiri


Ek Do Teen (Aawara)

Singers: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Shankar-Jaikishan Lyricist: Shailendra


Lagi More Man Ki (Shabab)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Naushad Lyricist: Shakeel Badayuni


Jadoogar Balma (Nagma)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Naushad Lyricist: Nakshab


Meri Neendon Mein Tum (Naya Andaz)

Singers: Kishore Kumar , Shamshad Begum Music Director: Nayyar OP Lyricist: Jan Nisar Akhtar


Mohabbat Karne Walon Ka (Ankhen)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Madan Mohan Lyricist: Raja Mehdi Ali Khan


Chaman Mein Rahke Veeraana (Deedar)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Naushad Lyricist: Shakeel Badayuni


Maine Dekhi Jag Ki Reet (Sunehre Din)

Singers: Mukesh, Shamshad Begum Music Director: Gyan Dutt Lyricist: Madhok DN


Jaam Tham Le (Shehnshah)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Burman SD Lyricist: Sahir Ludhianvi


Boojh Mera Kya Naam Re (CID)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Nayyar OP Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri


Zara Pyar Karle Baboo (Mangu)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Nayyar OP Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri


Ab To Ji Hone Laga (Mr & Mrs 55)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Nayyar OP Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri


Aji Bas Shukriya (Qaidi)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Nayyar OP Lyricist: Jan Nisar Akhtar


Holi Aai Re Kanhai (Mother India)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Naushad Lyricist: Shakeel Badayuni


Saiyan Dil Mein Aana Re (Bahar)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Burman SD Lyricist: Rajinder Krishan


Kajra Mohabbatwala (Kismet)

Singers: Asha Bhosle, Shamshad Begum Music Director: Nayyar OP Lyricist: Bihari SH


Chhod Babul Ka Ghar (Babul)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Naushad Lyricist: Shakeel Badayuni


Pee Ke Ghar Aaj (Mother India)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Naushad Lyricist: Shakeel Badayuni


Are Tauba Yeh Teri Ada

Singers: Geeta Dutt, Mohd Rafi, Shamshad Begum


Matwali Ankhon Wale (Chhote Nawab)

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Mohd Rafi, Shamshad Begum


Payal Mori Baje (Paisa Hi Paisa)

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Shamshad Begum


Naache Ang Ve (Heer Raanjha)

Singers: Jagjit Kaur, Noor Jehan, Shamshad Begum Music Director: Madan Mohan Lyricist: Kaifi Azmi


Lara Loo Lara Loo (Jadoo)

Singer: Shamshad Begum


Dar Na Muhabbat Kar Le (Andaz)

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Shamshad Begum


Leke Pehla Pehla (C I D)

Singers: Asha Bhosle, Shamshad Begum


Tumhi Se Pyar Tumhi Se Qarar (Naya Andaz)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Nayyar OP Lyricist: Jan Nisar Akhtar


O Piya Piya (Nau Jawan)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Burman SD Lyricist: Sahir


Chana Jor Garam Babu Main Laya (Naya Andaz)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Nayyar OP Lyricist: Jan Nisar Akhtar


Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon (Patanga)

Singers: Chitalkar, Shamshad Begum Music Director: Ramchandra C Lyricist: Rajinder Krishan


Milte Hi Ankhen (Babul)

Singers: Shamshad Begum, Talat Mahmood Music Director: Naushad Lyricist: Shakeel Badayuni


Kahin Pe Nigahen (CID)

Singer: Shamshad Begum , Music Director; O.P. Nayyar


Na Tum Aaye Na Neend Aai (Rim Jhim)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: Khemchand Prakash Lyricist: Bharat Vyas


Ek Baar Tu Ban Ja Mera (Shabnam)

Singer: Shamshad Begum Music Director: SD Burman  Lyricist: Qamar Jalalabadi


Chali chali kaisi yeh hawa yeh, (Bluffmaster)

Singer: Shamshad Begum, Usha Mangeshkar, Music Directors: Kalyanji Anandji


Reshmi  Salwar kurta  Jaali Ka (Naya Daur)

Singer: Shamshad Begum, Asha Bhosle, Music Director: O.P. Nayyar


Teri Mehfil main kismet aazma kar (Mughal-E-Azam)

Singer: Shamshad Begum, Lata Mangeshkar, Music Director: Naushad



1)    One has to praise Shamshad’s multilingual talent after listening “Ye Duniya Roop Ki Chor” film Shabnam starring Dilip Kumar and Kamini Kaushal, music composed by S.D.Burman.

2)    Shamshad still remembers her first impression of the young Kishore Kumar. Says she, “He was a fine boy, always full of life, but professionally low because he wasn’t reaching where his brother had. I remember telling him, ‘destiny is a great thing tomorrow you may become more popular than anybody else.’ And he actually did.”

3)    Shamshad Begum sang many songs for Punjabi movies as well which were very popular. In addition, She has sung few songs in other languages like Tamil, Bhojpuri and Rajasthani also. She has sung for non-film records in Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and Pashto also. She has sung over 1600 songs in all.

4)    When Shamshad was right at the top even Lata Mangeshkar once told her, “No one has seen the kind of stardom and respect that she did!”

5)    If anyone could claim to have taught Shamshad anything, it was Master Ghulam Haider. He is the one who gave a professional touch to her singing.

6)    Her songs gave the careers of several music directors a boost — Naushad (Nagma), O P Nayyar (Aar Paar), Chitragupt (Sindbad Sailor).

7)    Such was the demand for Shamshad Begum that film-makers waited for her to be free to sing for them. Tarachand Barjatya wanted her to come to Madras to sing for his film. But she couldn’t spare the time, so he came to Bombay. In his film Bahar, she sang Dil ka qarar leke aaja re aaja pardesiya and Duniya ko laat maro. Guru Dutt had a superb singer at home in Geeta Dutt, but if he decided that Shamshad had to sing a particular number, then he awaited her pleasure and convenience.

8)    The singer has been living with her daughter Usha Ratra and son-in-law in Mumbai, ever since her husband Ganpat Lal Batto, a Punjabi lawyer died in 1955. Recently, she celebrated her 89th birthday at her elder sister’s house and now she stays at – Hiranandani Gardens, Powai, Mumbai.  She was conferred the Padma Bhushan in 2009.

9)    Shamshad was very much conscious of her not so beautiful face and she never posed for any pictures and not many people saw her pictures anywhere. Until the end of the 1970s, nobody knew her face at all, though everybody could recognise her melodious voice as it was used by the great maestros like Naushad Ali and O. P. Nayyar. Even today, her songs from the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s are popular and continue to be remixed by music directors.

10) Her crystal-clear voice caught the attention of sarangi maestro Ustad Hussain Bakshwale Saheb, who took her as his disciple. Lahore-based composer Ghulam Haider used her voice skillfully in some of his earlier films like Khazanchi (1941) and Khandaan (1942).

11) In one of his rare T.V. interviews, O.P. Nayyar described Shamshad’s voice as that of a “temple bell” for its clarity of tone.  Begum became a national rage between the 1940s and the late 1950s, having a voice different from her peers like Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Geeta Dutt and Amirbai Karnataki.

12) Shamshad Begum was never trained to be a singer. It was music director Ghulam Haider who groomed the young singer and she sang for him in a couple of successful films including Yamla Jatt, Khazanchi and Khandaan. A string of subsequent successes spread her fame to Bombay. Shamshad Begum shifted to the city in the mid-1940s and established herself with such films as Taqdeer, Anmol Ghadi, and Shahjehan.

13) Shamshad Begum was Nargis’ voice before Lata took over. Shamshad sang many superhit songs for Nargis in Babul, Mela, Deedar etc. She also sang for Nargis’ debut film as heroine – Taqdeer (1943).

14) In the 1950?s, O.P Nayyar gave Shamshad perhaps the most popular songs of her career. Shamshad sang 40 songs for Nayyar and many of these songs especially Kabhi aar kabhi paar, and Leke pehla pehla pyaar appear in the popular remixes today. Shamshad sang for Nayyar the first time in Chham Chamma Chham (1952), a duet with Kishore Kumar – Taraste hain tarapte hain. However, her first hit song for Nayyar was Kabhi aar kabhi paar from Aaar Paar (1954).  O.P. Nayyar was responsible for giving Shamshad’s voice a different angle and making her sing Westernized tunes in songs like Mai ki masti aur hai (Mehbooba), Thoda sa dil laga kai dekh (Musafir Khana) and Meri neendoun mein tum (Naya Andaz). The last mentioned song is perhaps the best duet of Shamshad with Kishore Kumar and one of her favorites. Shamshad’s last song for Nayyar was that smashit Kajra mohabbat wala from Kismat (1968), and after that she was out of O.P. Nayyar’s recording room.

15) Shamshad Begum has fond memories of her contemporaries — Zohrabai Ambalewali, Amirbai Karnataki, Begum Akhtar, Noor Jehan, Juthika Roy, Rajkumari. “When we were together, we were great friends,” she claims. “We had a pleasant relationship, though we didn’t socialize with each other after work. At least, I didn’t. But our professional association was good. We were all fans of K L Saigal. No one thought of harming the other, nor did we try to snatch work away from anyone.”

16) Shamshad says, “My greatest regret is that I never got to sing with K L Saigal, though we did sing for the same film, Shahjehan. I was really shy of getting photographed. Once the two of us ran into each other at the recording company, but he didn’t know me because no one had seen my pictures. It was funny because we were then introduced and he said, ‘arre kudiye … tera bhala ho… tu kitna sona gaati hai… (God bless you, girl, you sing so well).’ Her eyes glint as she narrates this incident, recalling every nuance in the voice of her favorite singer. It also makes one realize the kind of talent these singers had and the respect they commanded from each other.

Thus speaks for the talent and virtuosity of this forgotten singer, particularly when one sees how replaceable some others have been. Today, she leads a retired life with memories of another day to keep her company. But she retains that regality which made her rule musicdom once. The inimitable Shamshad Begum was the reigning queen of film music in its earliest years, although her style was never imitated or challenged.

In conclusion, an acquaintance with the biography of Mohammad Rafi lets us into the secret of his gifted singing. We there discover it to be little more than human of his own heart and of his fortunes. There he shows himself the same kind, artless, good?humored, sensible and intelligent being that he appears in his singing. Many of his most melodious songs and heart-warming incidents have been drawn from his own simple life.

I am deeply indebted and grateful to my friends and well-wishers who have provided the source material while preparing this write-up and guided me as and when I was in need of their guidance. I would like very much to convey my thanks in advance to all of rafi fans who will read this write-up and post their feedback / comments and above all correct me if I am out of track anywhere in this article.

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58 Blog Comments to “Duets of Mohammad Rafi and Shamshad Begum”

  1. Shyam Chirravoori says:

    Somehow I missed it earlier and coild read it now. You always write on interesting themes. But the following needs some follow up. It appears it is neither feasible nor correct. Please correct it.

    Jab Usne Gesu Bikharaye (Shahjehan)

    Singers: Asha Bhosle, Shamshad Begum Music Director: Naushad Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri
    Please make the necessary correction in the following :
    Aana Meri Jaan Meri Jaan Sunday ke Sunday (Albela).

  2. Ahmad Misbaah says:

    I like this write up very much. Tons of information and songs.

  3. Ahmad Misbaah says:

    Very nice article on the two great legends of their times. The selection of songs are very cool. Enjoy really reading it.

  4. Mian says:

    Muhammad Rafi was legend & he have been with thousands of voice modes, no one like him in singing i never will be.
    may Allah protract his soul high in Divine.

  5. Zaheendanish says:

    posts 34 ~ 38 are wondeful posts. Hats off Anees Saab. Very informative posts indeed.

  6. Prasad says:

    Shamshad Begum and Geeta Dutt are two different singers’ voicess who sang number of duets with Rafi Saab which are almost sweet and memorable melodies in olden times. Still today no one forget the unforgettable songs of Shamshad Begum and Rafi Saab that are classified as Classics.

    Remembering such legends at this site is almost extinct. But still few rafi lovers still feel lucky to discuss such singers is an admirable job and praiseworthy deed.

  7. RAJA says:

    Even the voice of Shamshad Begum is so crystal clear as described by O.P.Nayyar sahab like temple bell and lyric words can be heard most distict and clear, there is no abmbiguousness in it.

  8. Harvinder says:

    Please listen to movie song 1959

    Here Punjabi songs are equaly good.

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