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Ahmed Rushdi

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Ahmed Rushdi

Ahmed Rushdi, SI, PP (Urdu: احمد رشدی; April 24, 1934 – April 11, 1983) was a versatile Pakistani playback singer who worked in film music and was “an important contributor to the Golden Age of Pakistani film music.” Rushdi is acclaimed as one of the greatest singers ever lived in south asia and was a natural baritone, yet could sing high tenor notes with ease. He is best known for his distinctive, melodious, powerful voice, complex and dark emotional expressions which led many critics to state his voice as the greatest and most distinctive they ever heard. Born in Hyderabad Deccan, he migrated to Pakistan and became a leading singer in the Pakistan film industry. He is considered to be one of the most versatile vocalists of thesubcontinent and was capable of singing variety of songs. He is also considered to be the first regular pop singer of south asia and credited as having sung the “first-ever South asian” pop song, “Ko-Ko-Ko-reena.”

In 1954, he recorded the official National anthem of Pakistan with several other singers. Rushdi has recorded the highest number of film songs in the history of Pakistani cinema in Urdu, English, Punjabi, Bengali, Sindhi and Gujarati languages. He suffered from poor health during the latter part of his life and died of a heart attack at the age of 48, after recording approximately five thousand film songs for 583 released films. Besides popular music, Rushdi also helped popularize the ghazals of Naseer Turabi. He was awarded the “Best Singer Of The Millennium” title, “Life TimeAchievement Award”, “Legend Award” and Lux Style Award.

In 2003, 20 years after his death, Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf awarded him the Sitara-e-Imtiaz, the “star of excellence,” an honour given for distinguished merit in the fields of literature, arts, sports, medicine, or science. A street in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi, also named Ahmed Rushdi Road.

Ahmed Rushdi was born to a religious, conservative family of Hyderabad Deccan in 1934. His father, Syed Manzoor Ahmed, taught Arabic, Islamic History and Persian at Aurangabad College,Hyderabad, Deccan. He died when Rushdi was only six years old. From a young age, Rushdi was fond of listening to the musical programs, including songs, which were broadcast from theradio. He neither inherited music from any one, nor any body in his family was ever affiliated to music. Ahmed Rushdi’s singing talents impressed a very close friend of his father, whom he called uncle and who loved him dearly. He enrolled in a local music academy in Hyderabad Deccan. Moreover, two popular composers of the time, M.A. Rauf and Iqbal Qureshi, also taught music in the same school. Thus, Ahmed Rushdi learned the basics of music from the afore-mentioned teachers.

Ahmed Rushdi did not get any sort of formal training of classical music neither before nor after becoming a successful playback singer but he had an effective command over high and low notes. He sang his first song in the Indian film Ibrat in 1951 and got recognition. His family moved to Pakistan and settled in Karachi in 1954, where he began participating in variety shows, music programs, and children’s programs on radio. In 1954, he recorded his first non-film song, “Bunder Road se Keemari”, written by Mehdi Zaheer for the popular Radio Pakistan show Bachchon Ki Duniya; the song was a hit and became the steppingstone for Rushdi’s future.

After the success of “Bunder Road se Keemari”, Rushdi was offered songs as a playback singer for films and quickly gained popularity. He lent his voice to many hit films like Bara Aadmi(1956), Wah Rey Zamaney (1957), Raat Ke Rahi (1957), Yeh Dunya (1958) and many more. Rushdi got well recognition for singing “Mari lela ne aisi” in Anokhi (1956), “Chalak Rahi Hain Mastiyan” and “Chal Na Sakey Gi 420″ in Raaz (1959). In 1961, he sang the popular song “Chand Sa Mukhra Gora Badan” in the film Saperan, for which he received his first Nigar Award as Best Male Playback Singer. He further strengthened his status as one of the top male playback singers in Mehtaab (1962), in which he sang “Gol Gappay Wala Aaya” for actor Alauddin; they would again be teamed in Susral. In 1966, he sang “Ko Ko Koreena”, considered the first modern Pakistani pop song.

The film Anchal (1960) was an important film in Rushdi’s career. Music director Khalil Ahmed recorded an extremely sad number “Kisi chaman mei raho tum” in singer Saleem Raza’s voice but wanted Rushdi to re-record the song as he was not satisfied with Saleem Raza’s singing. Rushdi did so and the song recorded in his voice satisfied composer Khalil. Raza’s career as a singer was affected and doomed later on. After that, whenever Khalil composed music for any film, Rushdi remained his first choice. The mid 1960s saw the rise of brilliant singers like Mehdi Hassanand Masood Rana, but it did not affect Rushdi’s career and he kept on leading the film music.

Music experts including Nisar Bazmi, Sohail Rana and M. Ashraf are unanimous that Rushdi’s voice was best suited for every hero, comedian and even character actor. He lent his voice to Waheed Murad, Nadeem, Santosh Kumar, Darpan, Habib, Rehman, Ghulam Mohiuddin and was tailor made for every actor of film industry. Rushdi’s voice was even ideally suited to comedians such as Munawar Zarif, Lehri, Nirala, Nanha and Rangeela.

Rushdi recorded the ghazal “Shok-e-awargi” written by poet Habib Jalib for actor Syed Kamal in the 1963 film Joker. This ghazal sung by Rushdi, gained popularity amongst music listeners. Rushdi and Jalib again teamed together for Mohammad Ali in the film Khamosh Raho (1964). Rushdi sang the ghazal “Mei Nahi Manta” for the same film and gained Habib Jalib country-wide fame. He recorded a qawwali ”Madiney waley ko mera salam kehdena” along with Munir Husain same year.

Actor Nadeem’s first film as a leading actor was Chakori (1967). Rushdi recorded four songs for this film in the composition of music director Robin Ghosh. “Kabhi toe tum ko yaad ayen gi”, “Pyare pyare yar humare” and “Tujhe chahein meri bahein”. Same year, film Doraha and Shehnai were released. He recorded all the songs for these films including “Bhooli hue hoon dastan”, “tumhein kaise bta doon”, “Han issi mor per” (film Doraha) and “Tujhey apney dil se mei kaise”, “Nazaron se haseen hai”, “Dunya mei tumko jeena hai agar” ( film Shehnai).

In 1968, Rushdi recorded his first ever Bengali song in the film Notun Name Dako of Dhaka titled “Ke Tumi Ele Go”, which became a smashing hit in the then East Pakistan. He sang playback hits in the same year like “Ae mere diwaney dil” (film Jahan tum wahan hum), “Socha tha pyar na karein ge” (film Ladla), “Usey dekha usey chaha usey bhool gaye” (film Jahan tum wahan hum), “Teri aankhon ke bheegey sitarey” (film Ma Beta) and many more. Same year, Rushdi recorded a song “Salam-e-mohabbat” for Mohammad Ali in Khawaja Khurshid Anwar’s composition.

Rushdi sang for Waheed Murad in 1969 film Naseeb Apna Apna.The song “Ae abr-e-kaaram aaj itna baras” brought another Nigar award for him. The song was composed by Lal Mohammad Iqbal. He also won different awards for songs like “Dil tumko de diya hai” and “Hum se na bigar aye larki”. Around the same year, he sang a duet with Mala in the film Baharei phir bhi ayen gi, “Khush naseebi hai meri”.

In 1969, the film Andaleeb was released. Ahmed Rushdi recorded all the songs for Waheed Murad in this film. The song “Kuch log rooth ker bhi” was a hit. Its sad version was sung by Noor Jahan. Although he sang for every film hero in Pakistan, his pairing with Waheed Murad proved to be the most popular, in such movies as Armaan (1966); the song “Akele Na Jaana” from that movie in Sohail Rana’s composition gained Rushdi another Nigar Award. Well-known hits of Rushdi picturised on Waheed Murad such as “Lag rahi hai mujhey aaj sari faza ajnabi” or “Kuchh loag rooth kar bi” were composed by Nisar Bazmi, the legendary composer for Pakistani movies. Ahmed Rushdi-Nisar Bazmi pair and Ahmed Rushdi-Sohail Rana combination were two of the most successful singer-music director pairs of Pakistan film music.

The 1970s brought new faces like Alamgir, Akhlaq Ahmed, Ghulam Abbas, A Nayyar etc. But Rushdi remained a leading singer of film industry. Film BandagiNaag Muni and Baazi were released in 1971. Ahmed Rushdi had a playback in all the three films.  He also won several awards for songs such as “Aik albeli si naar” (Naag Muni), “Tum bhi ho ajnabi” (Baazi) and “Poocho na hum ne kis liye” (Intezar). Perhaps, the song below never rang as true as it did after Ahmed Rushdi’s demise: “Chore chalay hum chore chalay lo sheher tumhara chore chalay”, film, Phir Chand Nikley Ga (1970) music, Sohail Rana.

Rushdi sung four solo songs and one duet for Waheed in the film Khalish (1972). “Honto pe tera naam”( with Mala), “Kal achanak jo sar-e-rah mili thi”, “Ghussey mei gulabi gaal” and “Pyar hota hai”. Music director was M.Ashraf. Around the same year, he sung for Mohammad Ali in the film Mohabbat. Rushdi recorded three songs in the film including a sad song “Khudara mohabbat na karna”. Music director was Nisar Bazmi.

In 1973, he recorded a qawwali “Dil torney waley” for the film Mehboob mera mastana. Ahmed Rushdi also recorded a romantic number ”Teri jabeen se chodhwin ka chand jhankta rahey” (filmNadan) for actor Rehman. He recorded a sad song “Angara mera mann” for film Jaal which was released same year. He was also fond of acting and appeared in thirteen films as an actor including Anokhi (1956), Kaneez (1965), Saat Lakh (1967) and Dekha Jaye Ga (1976). He also composed a music album in singer Mujeeb Aalam’s voice.

In 1974, film Anhoni was released. Waheed Murad and Aliya were in leading roles. Music director Lal Mohammad Iqbal recorded two songs in Rushdi’s voice. “Hai kahan who kali” and a sad number “Mei tujhey Nazar kia doon”. In the same year he sang for actor Shahid in film Dharkan. He recorded a romantic number “Rangat gulabi chehra kitabi” for Shahid.

In 1975, Ahmed Rushdi recorded “Dil ko jalana hum ne chor diya” (Film Mohabbat Zindagi Hai). This song was picturised on Waheed Murad and gained country wide popularity. He sung another song “Mashriqi rang ko chor ke” for the same film. He recorded many songs for Pakistan television including “Dil mei tu hai”, “Han issi mor pe” and “Bheegey hue mousam mei”. Rushdi was not only singing for films, but he was equally a busy figure for Radio and Television also. He remained a leading singer between 1954 and 1983. He sang for all the famous actors of Pakistan film industry. Rushdi recorded his last song “Ban ke misra ghazal ka” in 1983 for film Hero, which was picturised on Waheed Murad and the song was a hit. He recorded a large number of duets in many languages with Runa Laila, Mala, Naheed Niazi, Noor Jahan, Irene Parveen, Naseem Begum and Naheed Akhtar in his thirty-three-year singing career.

Ahmed Rushdi is considered to be the first regular pop singer of south asia as he introduced hip-hop, rock n roll, disco and other modern genres in South Asian music and has since then been adopted in Bangladesh, India and lately Nepal as a pioneering influence in their respective pop cultures. Following Rushdi’s success, Christian bands specialising in jazz started performing at various night clubs and hotel lobbies in Karachi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Dhaka and Lahore. They would usually sing either famous American jazz hits or cover Rushdi’s songs. Rushdi sang playback hits along with Runa Laila until the Bangladesh Liberation War when East Pakistan was declared an independent state.

Because of Ahmed Rushdi, Pakistani music industry has steadily spread throughout South Asia and today is the most popular genre in Pakistan and the neighbouring South Asian countries. Pop icons like Alamgir and Muhammad Ali Shehki later on followed Rushdi’s landmarks in playback singing.

Marriage

Ahmed Rushdi got married to Humera on November 30, 1963. His wife died in 1992, nine years after Rushdi’s death. He belonged to a Sayyid family (a sacred cast in muslims) and was a religious person. Despite of his popularity and fame, Rushdi never had any scandal in his entire career. He had three daughters. His younger daughter, Rana Rushdi used to sing her father’s songs in his presence which always pleased Rushdi a lot. He was against allowing his daughters to adopt singing as a profession. Ahmed Rushdi and Noor Jahan were highest paid singers in their time but Rushdi did not charge those producers and music directors a single rupee, who could not afford him. Famous music director Lal Mohammad made his entry into Pakistan film industry because Rushdi introduced him to different producers which he disclosed after Rushdi’s death. Likewise, poet Masroor Anwer got his first film as Rushdi insisted the music directorManzoor-Ashraf to give Masroor a chance.

Last years

In early 1980s, Rushdi shifted to Karachi as he was not feeling well and wanted to have a proper heart treatment. He was also singing less for films and film music itself was facing a decline. The 1980s saw a nose-dive in the progress of cinema in Pakistan. Number of cinemas decreased rapidly and people preferred watching television over going to a cinema. Playback singing that once was popular now struggled to exist and the singers needed a new medium to start afresh. Even then, Rushdi’s demand and popularity was still there with the music directors. He opened a music academy in order to teach music and playback singing to youngsters. Ahmed Rushdi never faced downfall as far as his singing career is concerned.

Until the 1970s, Rushdi was one of the leading voices in the subcontinent. In his last years, a weakened Rushdi, suffering from heart disease, recorded fewer songs on his doctor’s advise.

Death

Since 1976, Ahmed Rushdi was a heart patient and his doctors advised him to abstain from singing but Rushdi refused by saying that music was his life. When he had a second heart attack in 1981, he was composing a musical album in the voice of singer Mujeeb Aalam. On the night of April 11, 1983, he had a third heart attack. He was immediately taken to the hospital but pronounced dead by the doctors. He was 48. Rushdi was buried at Sakhi Hassan Graveyard, Karachi. His last non film song was “Aaney walo suno” which was a duet with Mehnaz.

On his death, actor Waheed Murad said. “Today I have lost my voice.” After Rushdi’s death, Waheed Murad as well as other friends and singers had appeared on a show to pay him a tribute; many of those same people appeared on the show six months later, reminiscing about Waheed as he also died.

Popularity and influence

Ahmed Rushdi has changed the sound of film music in subcontinent and his impact has also been felt to the Indian and Bangaladeshi film industries. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest singers ever lived in south asia and was effective in every genre of singing including ghazals and qawwalis. Once music director Nisar Bazmi in an interview said, “Ahmed Rushdi andMohammad Rafi are amongst those few singers in the subcontinent, whose voices did not form ‘cones’, as they rose and touch the higher notes. Their volumes rose up without getting squeaky!” Bazmi also quoted the song “Aisey bhi hain meharban” (film Jaisey jantey nahin) to prove that Rushdi was also a master of serious singing. In another interview he said, “I was happy and amazed to find a Chinese group rendering this song on one occasion. People from abroad also sing Rushdi’s songs which clearily indicates his popularity and influence. Indianplayback singer Kishore Kumar, being an admirer of Ahmed Rushdi, paid him a tribute at Royal Albert Hall London by singing Rushdi’s one of the songs “Aik urran khattola aye ga kisi lal pari ko laye ga”.

Many of his contemporaries compared his music with that of classically trained singers, although Rushdi never had any influences from any classical singer. He is famously known as Magician of voice and his popularity also turned traditional classical singers against him but did not affect his fame and his death is termed as irreparable loss to the industry. Actor Waheed Muraddeclared Rushdi’s song, “Bhooli hui hoon daastan”, his favorite song. Music directors like M.Ashraf and Nisar Bazmi also hold centaury partnerships with Ahmed Rushdi and they have composed hundreds of songs for him. According to complete songography, M.Ashraf composed 734 songs in 211 films for Rushdi but available figures indicate a composition of 132 songs in 100 films for him. The first film of this pair was Speran in 1961 and the last was Hero in 1983. Ahmed Rushdi influenced many singers in music industry including A Nayyar, Mujeeb Aalam, Naheed Niazi and Runa Laila.

Nigar Awards

  • 1961 – Best Male Playback Singer for the song “Chand Sa Mukhra Gora Badan” in film Saperan
  • 1962 – Best Male Playback Singer for the song “Gol Gappey Wala” in film Mehtaab
  • 1963 – Best Male Playback Singer for the song “Kisi Chaman Mei Raho” in film Anchal
  • 1966 – Best Male Playback Singer for the song “Akeley Na Jana” in film Armaan
  • 1970 – Best Male Playback Singer for the song “Aey Abr-e-Karam” in film Naseeb Apna Apna
  • 2004 – Life Time Achievement Award

Graduate Awards

  • 1965 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Mohabbat Mei Tere Ser Ki Qasam” in film Aisa Bhi Hota Hai
  • 1967 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Haan Issi Mor par” in film Doraha
  • 1968 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Kabhi Toe Tumko Yaad Ayen Gi” in film Chakori
  • 1969 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Kuch Log Rooth Kar Bhi” in film Andaleeb
  • 1970 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Lag Rahi Hai Mujhey Aaj Sari Fiza” in film Anjuman

Musawwir Awards

  • 1972 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Meri Jaan Meri Jaan Yehi Zindagi Hai” in film Bandagi
  • 1973 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Hai Kahan Woh Kali” in film Anhoni
  • 1975 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Mashriqi Rang Ko Chor Ke” in film Mohabbat Zindagi Hai
  • 1978 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Tu Saamney Hai Mere” in film Sharmeeli
  • 1979 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Sab Kamron Mein Band Hain” in film Zameer

Other Awards

  • 1967 – Best Sad Song Award for “Tujhey Apney Dil Se Mei Kaisey Bhuladoon” in the film Shehnai
  • 1968 – Classic Award for the song “Kiya Hai Jo Pyar Toe” in the film Dil Mera Dharkan Teri
  • 1970 – Silver Screen Award for the song “Chhor Chaley Hum Chhor Chaley” in the film Phir Chand Nikley Ga
  • 1973 – Al-Fankar Award for the song “Mei Tujhey Nazar kya Doon” in the film Anhoni
  • 1975 – Screen Light Award for the song “Dil Ko Jalana Hum Ne Chor Diya” in the film Mohabbat Zindagi Hai
  • 1983 – Rooman Award for the song “Ban Ke Misra Ghazal Ka Chaley Aaona” in the film Hero
  • 2000 – Best Singer Of The Millennium Award
  • 2001 – Legend Award
  • 2004 - Sitara-i-Imtiaz
  • 2005 - Indus TV Indus Music Hall of Fame
  • 2012 - Lux Style Award Lifetime Achievement Award

Shanta Apte – Profile

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Shanta Apte – Profile

by V.P. Sathe in 1977

No film star created as much sensation by her behavior as did Shanta Apte, who was aptly described as “the stormy petrel of the Indian screen.” Now a decade after her death, she seems to have created another sensation. In the Diwali issue of a local Marathi weekly a stage artiste Nayana Apte has confessed that she is the daughter of Shanta. So far, at least it was not publicly known that Shanta Apte ever got married or that she had a child out of wedlock.

Nayana Apte writes: “In 1946­-47, when Shanta Apte had stop­ped acting in any film she be­came Mrs. Shanta Apte. Her hus­band was a rich landlord and related to her. His surname was also Apte. He could not recognize the artiste in her. He was strongly opposed to her artistic ambition. Shantabai thought that she would be able to persuade him by staking all her clever­ness. But she failed. He was equally obstinate. It was per­haps characteristic of the Aptes. In three months Shantabai left her husband She was pregnant. I was born at Andheri. I was christened Nayana.”

She adds that she never saw her father. For that matter though I remember meeting Shanta Apte in Andheri in 1947, for an interview for a local Eng­lish weekly, I did not see her husband.

Apart from this rather belated revelation by her daughter Nayana, Shanta Apte had a very eventful career as both film and stage star. Born at Neera, she was the daughter of a station-master who was also a good singer. Shanta Apte learnt sing­ing in childhood and made a name for herself as a singer at Ganpati festivals in Poona. When the movies began to talk, there was a demand for artistes who could sing. The teenaged Shanta was cast as Radha in Saraswati Cinetone’s mythological “Shayam­sunder”, opposite Shahu Modak as Krishna. Shanta Apte’s elder brother Baburao Apte played Radha’s husband in that film. The Hindi version did not fare well, but the  Marathi version was a phenomenal success. It was the first talkie to run for 25 weeks at one theatre, in Bombay.

Despite this success Shanta Apte did not get any other role. She did not receive encouraging press notices. In 1947 when I asked her how she happened to be a film actress she replied “To tell you the truth I had no idea about films when I first appear­ed before the camera. I was too young then and interested only in music. It was because I was told that I would learn music in a film studio that I stepped in there. But after my first experi­ence I would probably never have taken to films as a career had it not been said that I could not act at all. When the director himself said that I could not enact any rate I had to accept the challenge. That is why I joined Prabhat three years later.”

For almost three years she did not get an opportunity to display her talent. It was only after Prabhat had shifted its headquarters to Poona, that Shanta Apte signed a long term contract with Prabhat. Her first film for Prabhat was “Amrit­manthan”, based on a story by N. H. Apte. Set in the Buddhist period, the picture was a plea against religious sacrifice.

She was cast as the hero’s sister. The role was emotional. Thee scenes showing her as a demented woman revealed for the first time that Shanta Apte could act. Her songs (especially Raat Ayi Hai Naya Rang Jamane Ke Liye) became a popular craze. “Amritmanthan” was the first Hindi film to celebrate a silver jubilee in Bombay. Though the leading roles belonged to Suresh Babu and Nalini Tarkhad, it was Shanta Apte and Chandramohan who got the bouquets after the release.

During her contract with Pra­bhat she appeared in “Amar­yoti”, “Rajput Ramani”, “Duniya Na Mane”, “Wahan” and “Gopal Krishna”. “Amarjyoti” and “Du­niya Na Mane” were directed by V. Shantaram. In “Amarjyoti” she played the romantic lead and the ward of a woman who hated men. In “Duniya Na Mane” she was cast as Nirmala, a young girl marri­ed to a man old enough to be her father. Instead of accepting the marriage as a ‘failed accomplishment” she revolts, refusing to have conjugal relations with her hus­band and making him realize his mistake. Shanta Apte was sin­cere and convincing. In a scene she beat her step-son with a cane. She was to repeat that scene in real life: she walked into the office of the editor of a film magazine in Bombay and caned him for writing scandalously about her.

Her performance in “Duniya Na Mane” proved beyond doubt that Shanta Apte was a very talented actress. In “Rajput Ramani” she played a spirited Rajput girl and in “Wahan”, she played a tribal girl seeking free­dom. “Gopal Krishna” in which she again played Radha was her greatest vindication as an artiste. For, the very people who had said that she could not act as Radha in “Shyamsunder” hailed her portrayal in “Gopalkrishna.” In seven years, from a rejected actress Shanta Apte had grown into a sought after star.

During her association with Prabhat she had many disputes with the management. Those days the stars could not dictate; the producers ruled supreme. To assert her rights Shanta Apte had to fight. And she went on a hunger strike to demand justice from Prabhat.

Her association with Prabhat ended in 1938. She became a free-lancer—she was perhaps the first film star in India to do it. Shanta and her brother Babu­rao formed Shanta Apte con­cerns. She had been inactive for over a year at Prabhat till her contract expired.

She learned Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Gujarati. Earlier she had learnt English. In fact, she had sung a poem by Long­fellow in “Duniya Na Mane” and won plaudits for her diction. She appeared in a Tamil film “Savi­thri”. She played the title role. M.S. Subbalakshmi appeared as Narada in the same film. It was a treat to hear these great singers together in the film.

A singer of repute herself  Shanta Apte was vehemently opposed to plauback singing by ghost voices. “If the film art is to be sincere and true then the present deception of playback must be stopped,” she said, and those artistes who can sing must be invited to sing and the audi­ence should not be misled by borrowed voices.”

From Madras, Shanta Apte went to Lahore to appear in Pancholi’s “Zamindar” opposite S. D. Narang. Her temperamental behavior created a storm. But Pancholi managed affairs successfully. “Zamindar” was a success. And Shanta Apte’s song Chhotasa Sansar scored by Ghu­lam Haider became a memorable hit.

Back in Bombay Shanta Apte appeared in Debaki Bose’s “Apna Ghar”. She played the role of Meera, a young girl married to a widowed forest officer who lives in the jungle. All her
marital needs are satisfied; but she is not happy being just a housewife and mother. She is interested in the problems of the tribe living in the jungle.

Ultimately she leaves her home and dedicates herself to tribal welfare, refusing to subscribe to the orthodox theory that a woman’s place is behind the four walls of her husband’s home. With Chandramohan cast as her overpowering husband, who represented the ruling class, Shanta Apte symbolized mother India trying to break the fetters. She was ideally cast as the girl re­belling against old concepts. She gave a sterling performance.

Her other important role during that period was as Mahashweta in “Kadambari”, based on the Sanskrit classic of the same name and directed by Nandlal Jaswantlal (“Anarkali”, “Nagin”). Shanta Apte looked glamorous in this film.

During the wartime boom she appeared in a number of films: “Mohabbat”, “Bhagyalakshmi”, “Sawan”, “Panihari”, “Subhadra”, “Uttara Abhimanyu” and “Valmiki”. During the post-war and post-independence period Shanta Apte lost her star status. She appeared only in a few Hindi films like “Mandir”, “Mai Abla Nahin Hoon” and “Swayamsiddha” and a number of Marathi films like “Jaga Bhadyane Dene Aahe”, “Shilanganache Sone”, “Jara Japoon” and “Bhagyawan”.

Her performance in “Swayam­siddha” won her accolades. For here was a role which appeared to have been specially written for her: that of a woman whose husband is meek, almost mad. And her brother-in-law domi­nates the household. Unable to bear the injustice, the wife re­volts. She succeeds in bringing her husband back to his senses and teaches a lesson to her brother-in-law.

The film was made in Calcutta and in 1949 the producers came to Bombay to sell it. No distri­butor was prepared to buy it. The only person who evinced any interest in the film was Tarachand Barjatya. He released the film at the Central and Excel­sior cinemas in Bombay. With Shanta Apte no longer a star, the opening was poor. But the critics, among them M. D. Japheth (who those days reviewed films for the “Bharat Jyoti”) liked it. An impromptu press conference

was arranged with Shanta Apte at the Excelsior Soda Fountain. And thanks to the favorable press reaction, the collections picked up. “Swayamsiddha” clicked in a big way. The picture brought Bipin Gupta (who played the father-in-law) into the limelight.

Venus Pictures of Madras made another version of the same film “Bahurani”, with Mala Sinha in the role that Shanta Apte had played. Guru Dutt played the husband and Feroz Khan the brother-in-law.

“Swayamsiddha” was Shanta Apte’s last great performance. Indeed, her three outstanding performances were as a rebel revolting against injustice in “Duniya Na Mane”, “Apna Ghar” and “Swayamsiddha”. The last film in which she appeared was Mulu Manek’s Gujarati historical. The last decade of her life she devoted to the stage., Be­sides giving song recitals she played singing roles in Guajarati and Marathi plays pays. She appeared as a sophisticated girl in Acharya Atre’s “Lagnachi Bedi” and had roles in plays like “Manaapman”, “Saubhadra” and “Ekach Pyala”. She created  a controversy on stage by introducing a new style of rendering popular old songs. During one of her performances, the instrumentalists annoyed by her constant variations of ‘alaaps’ walked out. But she stuck her ground and sang her songs till the last act without any accom­paniment.

Thanks to her eccentric behavior accentuated by her drinking she got few opportunities to display her talent. She became an alcoholic. The separation from her elder brother who got married and lost interest in her affairs, added to her grief. The last three or four years when she was almost jobless were tragic. She died on February 24, 1964 in a desolate condition. She was 46. Her brother Baburao died a year or so later.

Shanta Apte was perhaps the first star to write a book. Entitled “Jaoo Mi Cinemat” (Should I join films) it was meant as a warning and guide to young aspirants. A Marathi play “Kachecha Chandra” (Glass Moon)  was based on it. It has been a big success.

A few years before her death S. Mukerji had signed her to appear in Filmalaya’s first film with Dilip Kumar. But the pic­ture was never made. And we lost the opportunity to see Shanta Apte in a mature role.

Naseem Akhtar or Nasim Akhtar

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Naseem Akhtar

Naseem Akhtar

Naseem Akhtar or Nasim Akhtar

Born in a nawab family of Peshawar in 1920, Naseem Akhtar was  the younger sister of Sardar Akhtar (wife of famous Indian director Mehboob Khan) and Bahar Akhtar (wife of A.R. Kardar – another famous Indian director credited for establishing the film industry of Lahore).

She was an established playback singer before partition and sang for major music directors of that era including Khurshid Anwar, Naushad, and Khemchand Prakash. After partition, she migrated to Pakistan. Divorced from Rafiq Maula(?), a Pakistani producer, she spent her last days in miserable poverty and breathed her last around 1952 after severe unattended illness.

Some of her memorable songs include Aag lagi dil mein woh pyari (Shahjehan, 1946) and Kisi kai madhur pyar mein dil mera kho gaya with Sushil Sahu (Sindoor, 1947).

Anjuman Ara Begum

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Anjuman Ara Begum

Anjuman Ara Begum

Anjuman Ara Begum

Anjuman Ara Begum was the lady with a golden voice. She rose to popularity around the 1960s. Whether it was radio, television or gramophone records being played in wayside restaurants, her fresh, melodious voice was audible far and wide.

She was the daughter of Dr Kasiruddin Talukder and Begum Ziaunnahar Talukder of Bogra. Her father’s dispensary at Thana Road was well known to the public. But tragedy struck the family when her father was arrested and killed by the Pakistan Army during the Liberation War in 1971. The ostensible reason for this drastic end was his role in providing medical aid and giving shelter to freedom fighters.

Anjuman Ara was born in a cultured family where almost all her family members were highly educated. She completed BA (Hons), MA from the Department of Sociology, Dhaka University while continuing her career as a professional singer. She was the youngest among her two brothers and five sisters.

Her eldest sister Begum Zabunnesa Jamal was a popular lyricist and educationist. Elder sister Mahbub Ara was also a singer of radio and television. Her niece, Zeenat Rahana, is a well-known vocal artiste and the famous Runa Laila is her cousin sister.

Anjuman Ara made her presence felt for the first time through radio in 1958 and instantly became everyone’s favourite. There was a unique quality to her voice and listeners were captivated by the feeling that she put into singing.

During the early 1960s when there was no television and radio was the only medium to reach the masses, Anjuman Ara occupied the pride of place with three contracts every month. During each programme she was required to attend at least three sittings in the morning, evening and night during peak hours. Her fans seldom missed her programmes because she had a variety of items to offer like light modern, Nazrul song, folk song, semi-classical, patriotic, ghazal and geet.

She was soon chosen for playback in feature films. Her song in a dream sequence of Shutorang, Tumi ashbay boley kachhey dakbey boley was an instant hit. This was followed by Chandni bheegi bheegi haawa a song of Urdu film Chanda became a hot favourite. Thereafter came other film hits like Akasher hathay aachhey ek rash neel, Kay Shoronero prantoray chupi chupi chhoyan rekhay jaye, Sathti ronger majhey aami mil khunje na pai, Khokon shona boli shono, Maachhranga pakhita aye and many others.

Anjuman Ara’s husband Masud Alam Siddiqui was a tremendous support all along. It was obvious that without his encouragement, she could not have made it as a singer. Masud retired as Secretary, Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation. Her son Tariq Masrur is a Sub-Editor (News Section) of The Daily Star and daughter Umana Anjalin is a Lecturer, Department of Business Administration at the University of Asia Pacific.

Anjuman Ara received many awards for her rich contribution to music. Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy gave her the ‘Gunijan’ award in the year 2000. In recognition of her contribution as an artiste, she received the National Award, Ekushey Padak in 2003.

After performing the Hajj she became very pious and gradually declined offers to sing although she held a respectable position as a senior vocalist.

Of late, she had been ailing. Her illness took a swift turn to acute pneumonia and she breathed her last in the morning of May 29, 2004. The news of her sudden death reached quickly and soon relatives, friends, well-wishers, artistes, fans and admirers gathered at her residence at Dhanmondi to pay their last respects to her.

Anjuman Ara was a very soft-spoken lady and always had a smile on her face. Personally she was very amiable and kind hearted. As an artiste she was always devoted to her profession.

Anjuman Ara is no more with us. However, she lives on in the memories of her numerous fans.

Nahid Niazi

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Nahid Niazi

Nahid Niazi was one of the popular playback singers of the late 50s and 60s. She was discovered by Khurshid Anwar, who wasn’t happy with the available choices of playback singers (with the exception of Noor Jehan). Khurshid Anwar wanted Noor Jehan to singZehr-e-Ishq’s songs. Noor Jehan refused to sing because she was still a singing-star at that time and wanted to play the leading role assigned to Mussarat Nazir. With no other choice, Khurshid Anwar recorded one of the songs Mohe piya milan ko janey dai in the voice of Iqbal Bano, but he was not happy with the results.

Khurshid Anwar then contacted Geeta Dutt because he had very high opinion of Geeta Dutt’s singing abilities (Geeta has sung several beautiful songs for Khurshid Anwar in Nishana and Neelam Pari in India) and she agreed to sing songs of Zehr-e-Ishq. However, some Pakistani film magazines started negative campaign for not using Pakistani playback singers. Khurshid Anwar then considered introducing a new voice. He trained one of the daughters of his friend Sajjad Sarwar Niazi (former director at Radio Pakistan) and thus Nahid Niazi (real name Shaida Niazi) entered the film industry as a playback singer.

It is not a coincidence then that Nahid Niazi’s voice is reminiscent of Geeta Dutt’s singing style. Besides singing some of the most soulful melodies for his mentor Khurshid Anwar including Na koi saiyyan mera (Jhoomar), Mohe piya milan ko janey dai (Zehr-e-Ishq), Raqs mein hai sara jahan (Ayaz), Chahey bolo ya na bolo (Ghoonghat), she formed a successful team with her husband-cum-music director Muslehuddin and sang several hits for him.

Some of the hits delivered by Nahid-Muslehuddin team include Jaag taqdeer ko jaga loun gi(Aadmi), Mera kaha kabhi maan lou (Aadmi), Raat saloni aayi with Ahmed Rushdi (Zamana Kiya Kahey Ga), Samajh na aayey dil ko kahan (Daal Mein Kala), Raat chali hai jhoom kai with Ahmed Rushdhi (Josh) and Ae aasmaan (Yahudi Ki Ladki).

After the creation of Bangladesh, the two went through a traumatic experience in 1971 because Muslehuddin was Bengali. The creation of Bangladesh led to many couples making painful decisions regarding their future together. Rumors regarding Bengali husbands leaving their West-Pakistani wives spread, which included rumors about Nahid’s own marriage, and had her family worried sick.

Moslehuddin and Nahid eventually conquered the division and started a new life in the UK. They made a big impact in their adopted country and rumor has it that Moslehuddin, helped invent the famous South Asian dish ‘Chicken Tikka Masala,’ which has become an essential part of British gastronomy. “It is true,” Nahid confirmed.

Nahid Niazi has lived a life of relative seclusion following the death of her husband, in 2003. Nowadays, Nahid spends a lot of time learning the Bengali language. The need to understand more of what her husband wrote has inspired her to do so.

Besides her good looks, Nahid has a gentle demeanour and charm that oozes a sense of confidence. Through her measured words one can gather that she has adapted well to her life in the United Kingdom, but nevertheless misses Pakistan very much. She visits her son in California off and on and likes to spend most of her time with her grandchildren, both in the US and UK, where her daughter Nermin lives.

Nahid regards Ek Baar Phir Kaho Zara as her all time favorite song, composed by her father and originally sung by Shamshad Begum. Her favourite female singers are Noor Jehan and Lata Mangeshkar. Amongst male voices, those of Mohammed Rafi and Mehdi Hassan as well as Ahmed Rushdi have a special appeal for her

An article about Nahid Niazi by another author

Naheed Niazi: Music to your heart
By Anis Shakur
Naheed Niazi and her younger sister, Najma Niazi, are the daughters of Sarwar Niazi, the former director of Radio Pakistan, Karachi.
Let us glance at Naheed Niazi’s true-life accomplishments, which is an instance of human excellence and personal success.
It goes without saying that she was the most gorgeous female singer of Pakistani music in the 1960s.
Naheed Niazi was fair-haired, extremely attractive, and profoundly intelligent and arguably the best singer in the golden era of popular Pakistani film music.
Her father wanted to see her soar.
In addition to being highly educated, impressive, charming and driven, she possessed the extraordinary gift of a magnificent voice.
Her immense appeal and her absolute belief to forget the past and move on to her next stage took her to the forefront of the rising Pakistani music scene in 1958.
Smitten by music at an early age, Naheed recorded this song:  “Jaag taqdeer ko jaga loon gee”. (Recorded in 1958 for the super hit film “Aadmi”, composer: Muslehuddin)
The afore-mentioned song took her to the mainstream music arena and even more so in entertainment. Along with the song, she came out number one.
As brilliant as brilliant can be, Naheed captured the high spirit of one of Pakistan’s best-loved song, which is “Ik baar phir kaho”.
Naheed’s incomparable voice is the melody of a grateful heart.
The song which made her time-honored symbol of success was “Raat saloni Aaye”(Duet: Naheed Niazi-Ahmed Rushdi, composer:
Muslehuddin, the film “Zamana kya kahay ga,”
The film “Zamana kya kahay ga” made her absolutely, unequivocally, as successful as a singer could be in the then Pakistani music scene.
Pakistan film industry is rich with tales of legendary artists who risked all to chase their dreams. Their vision and perseverance have won them success.
Naheed is, indeed, one of them.
She is a glorious woman with the smarts to succeed and she never made mistakes winners don’t make.
“Raat saloni Aaye” is a song, which is celebrated all over the country even today.
Naheed worked real hard from day one. She knew that she couldn’t ride easy street and expect to reach the stars.
In fact, there was something in her face that transcends the ordinary.
After listening to “Raat saloni” music buffs had drawn the conclusion that the wistful magic of Naheed has a capacity and depth almost to mesmerize listeners.
When the film  “Daal mein kala” arrived in the theatres, cine-goers rushed to watch the movie because of the following song: “Samajh na Aaye dilko kahan lay jaa oon sanam”. (Composer: Muslehuddin).
Naheed was really tuned into the rhythm of this particular genre-sad solo-”Dil ko kahan”.
The transporting power of love and anguish were successfully captured by Naheed in the film “Daal mein kala”.
As a result of her focused concentration, Naheed rapidly climbed the rungs of the ladder and became indispensable to Pakistani movie directors.
Additionally, she provided countless hours of pleasure to millions of her loyal fans and occupied an indelible place in their hearts, as well.
Naheed who achieved legendary stature as a singer, teamed up with Ahmed Rushdi to record the following duet: “Raat ho gaye jawan” for the film “Dil nay tujhay maan liya”.
The following song was recorded in the voice of Naheed in the feel-good composition: “Husn bhi mauj mein hai” for the film “Mujhay jeenay do”.
In her brief singing career, Naheed recorded quite a few songs.
Along the way she left the treasure of a lifetime.
Naheed achieved fame beyond her wildest dreams when the following song was first broadcast through Radio Pakistan: “Chum, chum, chum, milay hain sanam, lut gaye hum, Allah qasam”.
Her interest was to create entertainment. And she was victorious.
With “chum, chum,” Naheed showed a watchful intelligence and drew plaudits all around.
With the following songs, Naheed struck a chord in music lovers that still resonates in their ears:
“Chali ray, chali ray, chali ray,” pictured on Musarrat Nazeer.
“Sayyan jee ko dhoond nay chali jogun bun kay”, pictured on Neelo.
“Mohay piya Milan ko janay day”, pictured on Musarrat Nazeer.
“Kaisa safar hai kahiye, yoon he qareeb rahiye”(duet: Naheed Niazi-Ahmed Rushdi, pictured on Shamim Ara-Kamal).
Naheed owes much of her optimism, tenacity and admirable thought to her father and the musician, Muslehuddin.
She was always ambitious and motivated.
The love and admiration which her fans lavished on her is astounding.
The following songs glorifies her tale of warmth and gratitude:
“Tujh ko maloom naheen.’
“Na koi  sayyan  mera, na koi piya ray”.
“Aa tujh ko suna oon lori, halaat say chori chori”.
The following songs have left us a legacy of cool serenity, of calm, of quiet little moments:
“Zamana pyar ka itna he kum hai, ye na jana tha”.
“Piya, piya, na cook papiha”.
The past has its allure, so is her memory.
Given here below is a song about which it can be stated that its message is universal, its lyrics transcend all earthly barriers, and its music touches the skies:
“Raqs mein hai sara jahan”.
What is unique about the songs of Naheed is that the sweetness is so profound.
Music director, Muslehuddin, who had composed most of the songs for Naheed , became enamored of her.
There’s were a relationship marked by concord.
Moreover, Muslehuddin often met up with her in the decade of the sixties.
Subsequently they slipped away for a while to tie the knot.
Soon after marriage they migrated to UK, which was a tremendous setback for Pakistani cinema.
Years passed and the Pakistani public lost touch of them.
However, in the late 1990s, both Naheed and her husband-cum-composer, Muslehuddin, paid a visit to Pakistan.
Lahore television’s Rehana Siddiqi, interviewed them.
The sweet smile that had opened so many doors to success for Naheed in the past, persists to this day.
From the glint in her eyes, it seemed that she is still in her element.
Happily, though, Naheed the singer hasn’t lost her touch-and  Naheed the woman  hasn’t lost her charm.
Many Pakistanis still remember Naheed – Muslehuddin, when both of them regularly made their appearance for the music program for children in the late 1960s.
Naheed’s daughter, Nermin, received the best upbringing, education and etiquettes from her parents.
Like her mother, Nermin took keen interest in music.
Naheed Niazi and Nermin sang a duet, ‘Rim jhim rim jhim paray phuar, tera mera nitka pyar,’ composer, Khursheed Anwar.
And the audience of hundreds detonated into applause for Nermin Niazi, when she sung the song at a music concert in the late 1980s. In fact, Nermin filled in for her aunt, Najma Niazi in that duet.

Further, Nermin also sang semi-classical ghazals in Moslehuddin’s or Feisal’s compositions.

Nowadays, Nermin lives in UK. While her brother, Feisal, resides in California.

Nahid Niazi : A Charming Voice from the Past
It was difficult to predict what Nahid Niazi would look like after all these years. But one thing is was for sure, that she herself wanted to come out and interact with the Pakistani and South Asian community here after a long time in relative seclusion following the death of her husband, the music conductor/composer Moslehuddin in the year 2003.
And it just happens to be our luck that her son Feisal Mosleh (a musician in his own right) is a resident of the San Francisco Bay area. And since they volunteered to assist the local group of Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans at a fundraiser on March 23rd to assist The Citizens Foundation, we interacted and agreed to meet with her at a celebration that was being held at the Chandni Restaurant the following day in nearby Newark.

Coincidentally, this event was being put together with the help of Ms. Raana Faiz of the Hamrahi Radio Program and incorporated many individual celebrations within the community. In the hands of Raana, this gathering became much bigger than anticipated and we ended up with a gala evening of fine food and entertainment during which local singer Anisha Bakshi, Poetess Noshi Gilani and music composer Ali Shahabuddin amongst others excelled in their talents. The coincidence was that Raana Faiz is also a childhood friend of the Niazi sisters, and this was quite a trip down memory lane for them. Another interesting development was that some relatives of this writer had appeared in a children’s program conducted by Moslehuddin on Pakistan television during the late 1960’s. So this was not exactly a meeting of strangers.

Since you do not ask a lady her age, and one does not need to estimate that here, but when my wife and I saw Nahid sitting with her son Feisal and his wife Kim, one could easily mistake them all for being from a much younger set. She has the good looks of the Niazi clan of which the cricket great Imran Khan is the most famous example. But beyond the looks there is a gentle demeanor and charm that oozes a sense of confidence. Through the measured words one can gather that she has adapted to her life in the United Kingdom but she misses her home in Pakistan. She visits her son Feisal in California once in a while and enjoys her grandchildren both here and in the U.K. where her daughter Nermin lives. But can almost feel that the loss of her husband Mosleh was and still is sometimes overpowering.

Nahid is the daughter of the late Sajjad Sarwar Niazi a former Director at Radio Pakistan. A Pakistani from the Niazi clan, married to Moslehuddin, a Bengali, the two had to face the traumatic year of 1971 together. The creation of Bangladesh was the second partition of the sub-continent, and many couples had to make painful decisions. There were break ups of families; West-Pakistanis who had married Bengalis were concerned about their future and there were rumors that Bengali husbands were leaving their West-Pakistani wives. According to Nahid, many such rumors about her own marriage were spreading in Pakistan at that time and that had her family worried.

But Moslehuddin and Nahid conquered the new division and settled in the U.K. permanently. They made a big impact in their newly adopted country because as rumor has it Moslehuddin, the accomplished music composer, helped to invent a new food dish that the British just cannot get enough of, that being “Chicken Tikka Masala.” “It is true,” said Nahid. And speaking of food, Nahid revealed her love shrimp and prawns in all forms and considers them her favorite food. “But I can’t eat crab,” she said. “Even though Mosleh loved it,” she added.

On her own all time favorite song she mentioned that out of many, her father’s composition “Ek Baar Phir Kaho Zara” previously sung by Shamshad Begum was her choice. Her favorite female singers are Noor Jehan and Lata Mangeshkar. Amongst male voices those of Mohd. Rafi and Mehdi Hassan along with Ahmed Rushdie have a special appeal for her. She added that Rushdie, whom she had sung duets with, would use several takes to perfect his songs while she herself would try to finish her recordings in as few takes as possible.

On another note she said that she is learning Bengali these days and can now read some of the script. She said that what inspired her was the need to understand more of what her husband wrote, because he loved the language and wrote in it. She said that her relationship with her late mother-in-law was also very inspiring. Nahid said that Moslehuddin was buried in Islamabad as the family wished. On her future plans she had this to say; “I was sorting out my life after Mosleh’s death.” And since her children are now well settled; “I am all set to come back,” she added. One can be sure that Pakistan and possibly even Bangladesh will hear from her soon.

To conclude, it almost seems fair to write that the Golden Age of Pakistani arts has somehow just got to be preserved. Online this effort has been attempted by Mazhar in the Denmark and by Anis Shakur in New York. Our Washington based Pakistani journalist Khalid Hasan has been amongst the best historians of this age when Pakistanis could boast of a vibrant film, arts, and entertainment industry. Mohtarma Nahid Niazi is one voice from that era. She spoke candidly about her contemporaries and about being inspired by the greats of the time like the Poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz. One can only hope that more people out there will attempt to properly archive this past for the benefit of our future generations and in the process utilize Nahid Niazi as an important resource.

Report & Photos
By Ras Hafiz Siddiqui

Ferdousi Rahman or Ferdousi Begum

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Ferdousi Rahman or Ferdousi Begum

Ferdousi Begum

Ferdousi Begum

Ferdousi Rahman (Bengali: ফেরদৌসী রহমান) formerly known as Ferdousi Begum (born: 28 June 1941), is the only daughter of folk legendAbbas Uddin. Her music career started in her early years under her father’s direction.

She has not only uplifted the great trend of folk music that her father established, she also gave her fans a rich collection of music that includes Modern Song, Classical, Ghazal and Nazrul Shangeet. She participated as a children artiste in many radio programs, but she first sang for the radio as an adult artiste in 1955. She sang as a playback singer for many Bengali and Urdu films. The first released movie where she sang as a playback singer was Ehtesham’s ‘Ei Desh Tomar Amar’ under the music direction of Khan Ataur Rahman in 1959, followed by ‘Asia’ in 1960. One of the music directors of the movie ‘Asia’ was her father Abbas Uddin. In 1960, movie ‘Rajdhanir Bukey’ was released, Ferdausi Rahman gave music direction for the first time for this movie with co-director Robin Ghosh.

Her songs have established a big follower and NTV (Bangladesh) has been airing a program of her songs presented by contemporary artistes. This program has caught the attention of people of all ages and one of the most popular programs on TV.

She has represented Bangladesh as a member of cultural delegations to many countries and sang in many different languages.

In 1964, Rahman’s song was the first ever program broadcast in the newly established Pakistan Television in erstwhile East Pakistan (nowBangladesh). She was awarded President’s Pride of Performance Medal in 1965, the prestigious Ekushey Padak in 1973, the Independence Day Award (Shadhinota Dibash Padak) in 1995, Nasiruddin Gold Medal, Film Journalists Award, and many other National awards. She received “National Film Award” in the category of music direction for the film “Megher Onek Rong”.

On 17 July 2009, Rahman was awarded a crest and BDT 50,000 as part of the Gunijon Shongbordhona program. The event was attended by Bangladeshi celebrities who spoke about her contribution to and influence on the arts.

Ferdausi Rahman received the lifetime achievement award 2008 at the Meril-Prothom Alo Award ceremony for her outstanding contribution to Bangla music.

Her well known children’s program “Esho Gaan Shikhi” was the first program to teach children about music on Bangladesh Television, and the program has been running for 44 years now. This program can be accredited for giving birth to numerous children’s songs that are very near and dear to the heart of any Bengali speaking people. By virtue of this program, she is lovingly called ‘Khalamoni’ (Aunt) by all the kids in Bangladesh.

She has 2 elder brothers, Former Chief Justice of Bangladesh Justice Mustafa Kamal and renowned singer Mustafa Zaman Abbasi. Her niece Nashid Kamal is also an exponent of Nazrul Geeti, Folk and Classical. Her other nieces who are also singers are Samira Abbasi (in the US) and Sharmini Abbasi (Dhaka). Her grand-niece Armeen Musa, the daughter of Nashid Kamal, is also upcoming artiste of Bangladesh.

Ferdausi Rahman is married to Rezaur Rahman, an engineer and industrialist; and has two sons Rubaiyat Rahman and Razin Rahman, and three grandchildren.

Song

Film

Year

Vocalist1

Vocalist2

Composer

Chandni bheegi bheegi hawa Chanda 1962 Firdausi Begum - Robin Ghosh
Rang roop jawani rut sawan ki suhani Chanda 1962 Firdausi Begum Rehman Robin Ghosh
Aankhian tori rah niharin Chanda 1962 Firdausi Begum Farida Yasmin Robin Ghosh
Lut gaya khushyon ka dera kho gaya haye piyar mer Chanda 1962 Firdausi Begum - Robin Ghosh
Chhalkay gagariya bheegay chunariya Chanda 1962 Firdausi Begum Farida Yasmin Robin Ghosh
Main ne kaha salam alaikum meray matwalay hain sub dil walay Talash 1 1963 Firdausi Begum - Robin Ghosh
Khin na kahin o kabhi na kabhi aji dil toa kisi say lagao ge Talash 1 1963 Bashir Ahmed Firdausi Begum Robin Ghosh
Tum bhi hasin dil bhi jawan haye yeh rangeen saman Talash 1 1963 Bashir Ahmed Firdausi Begum Robin Ghosh
Mausum rangeela nasheeli hawa Talash 1 1963 Firdausi Begum - Robin Ghosh
Kuch apni kahiye kuchh meri suniye Talash 1 1963 Firdausi Begum - Robin Ghosh
Jaan gai re jaan gai re Talash 1 1963 Firdausi Begum - Robin Ghosh
Koi dil mein aa kay muskura gaya apna bana ke dil lubha gaya Milan 1 1964 Firdausi Begum - Ataur Rehman
Aye meray anokhay humrahi kuchhh aisi nazar ka naam bhi hay Aakhri Station 1965 Firdausi Begum - Ataur Rehman
Na thay tumhari ada ke qabil Daak Banglah 1966 Firdausi Begum - Ali Hasan
Voh mere samne tasveer bane baithe hain Chakori 1 1967 Firdausi Begum - Robin Ghosh
Kahan ho tum ko dhoond rahi hain yeh baharain yeh saman Chakori 1 1967 Nadeem Firdausi Begum Robin Ghosh

 

 

Ustad Muhammad Juman or Jumman

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

Ustad Muhammad Juman or Jumman

Ustad Muhammad Juman

Ustad Muhammad Juman

Ustad Muhammad Juman or Jumman (10 October 1935 – 24 January 1990) was a modern Sindhi musician and classical singer. He was born in the village of Sorra, Balochistan, Pakistan.

He was fond of music and went to Radio Pakistan in Karachi to start a career as a fiddler. There, it was suggested to him that he sing, resulting in his starting a program on Radio Pakistan in Hyderabad.

He received his music education from Ustad Nazir Hussain and Bary Waheed Ali Khan, experienced in Bhittai’s Sur. He became very famous when he sang “Munhjo Mulk Maleer” for the film Umar Marvi. He became well-known everywhere after performing the Siraiki Kafi “Yaar Dadhi Ishq Atish Lai Hai”. He also sang Mir Sikandar Khan Khoso’s kafis “Ishq munjhon izhar thee ayo” and “Kech Punhal day hal kahay hal” at Radio Pakistan. Juman’s son, Shafi Muhammad, also followed his style of kafi singing.

Juman was awarded a Bedil Award, Gold Award, Saga Award, and Latif Award, and, in 1980, the Tamgha-e-Husn-e-Karkerdigi by the Pakistani government. Juman died on 24 January 1990 in Karachi.

Ustad Mohammad Juman was born in 1935, at Sourh Goth in coastal area near Karachi, with an essence of music right from his birth as his father, Haji Ahmed Sakheerani Baloch, was also a musician. Some music scholars are of the view that Ustad Juman is the third greatest Sindhi musician, while first is Beejal who sung the poetry of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai from ‘Shah Jo Risalo’ and second is Shah of Sindh. He went to Ustad Mubarak Ali to get perfection in singing, who taught him to show his art on Tanpoorah invented by Beejal. Ustad Juman passed his first audition at Radio Pakistan, Karachi, and got recognition as a singer by singing Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai’s classical poetry. Later, he was offered job there as a flute player.

With the existence of Radio Pakistan, Hyderabad in 1955, he, like other Sindhi artistes shifted to Hyderabad in order to promote Sindhi singers and musicians as the radio station was near the residences of Sindhi performers.  With Hameed Naseem, he worked at the newly-established radio station as a flute player and panel staff artist. The radio director was got impressed by Ustad Juman’s performance and promoted him to music composer under Master Nazar Hussain. Master Nazar drew his attention towards composition.

In the meantime, he studied Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai devotedly as a musician, and other material available in Sindhi language on the subject. Later, he proved himself a great musician by performing Raags (music) of Shah Bhittai in a distinct way, which surprised the then musicians. But his music authority can be gauged from a narration mentioned in a book “Karoo Vass Kayam” by Sauz Halai on his art and personality. Ustad Juman compared the rhythm between Aazan and the Sur by singing some poems in a Mehfil, challenging all the participants if they prove him wrong. He suggested musicians to visit Madina and compare the rhythm.

Indeed, Ustad Mohammad Juman has not given us a musical product as Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai and Beejal are known with their inventions, Tanbooro and Tanporah. He has localised great classical music by singing it over with local musical instruments, such as Yaktaro and Chhapri. Ustad Juman opened a new leaf in the musical history by setting Shah Bhittai’s local and non local Raag together.

He was a singer of international stature and had performed in India, Bangladesh, Japan, Australia and other countries, and similarly his performance is not limited to Sindhi; he also sung in Urdu and Seraiki as well and has been felicitated by renowned singers namely Lata Mangeshkar, Noor Jehan, Abida Parveen and others.

Former premier Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was fond of Ustad Juman. He used to invite him to beautify his personal gatherings and music Mehfils.

Ustad Juman has uncountable programmes on his credit, but he earned some fame through PTV programmes including Sindhi Seengar, Sindh Sadiyun Kha, Latifi Laat, Programme Chehri, Aap Ki Khidmat Me, Neelam Ghar, Meri Pasand, Kasab Kamal and many others. He won several awards including Presidential Award for good performance, Shah Latif Award, Sachal Sarmast Award, PTV Award and others.

His prominent students who maintained his grace in the field are Zaib-un-Nisa, Jiji Zarina Baloch, Ali Mohammad, Hussain Bux, Deedar Hussain, Shafi Mohammad Juman.

The author has also written some poems, one of them he wrote in Madina during Hajj.

The last days of the third great musician and distinguished singer were not different from his mentors and artistes. Usually, singers breathe their last in miseries and without any care on the part of government and so was happened with him. He left this world with smile over his wrinkled face and sparkle in dim eyes.

 

Kumar Gandharv

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Kumar Gandharv

Kumar Gandharva (Kannada: ಕುಮಾರ ಗಂಧರ್ವ) or Shivaputra Siddramayya Komkalimath (Kannada: ಶಿವಪುತ್ರ ಸಿದ್ದರಾಮಯ್ಯ ಕೋಮಕಾಳಿಮಠ್) was a Hindustani classical singer, famous for his unique vocal style, refusal to be bound by the tradition of any gharana, and his innovative genius. The name Kumar Gandharva is a title given to him when he was a child prodigy; a Gandharva is a musical spirit in Hindu mythology.

Gandharva was born in Sulebhavi near Belgaum, Karnataka, India. He studied music under the well-known Prof B R Deodhar.

 

He married Bhanumati Kans in April 1947 and moved to Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. Soon after moving there, he was stricken with lung cancer which was wrongly diagnosed as tuberculosis. He was forced into having a surgery to remove the cancerous lung or face eventual death by the disease. Kumar opted for the surgery after much persuasion by his family and despite warnings that he might not be able to sing anymore. Recovering from the trauma of a surgery in Khanapur near Belgaum in Karnataka, Kumar Gandharva was visited by a fan who was also a physician. The doctor noted his surgical wounds had healed and asked Kumar Gandharva to attempt singing once again. Gradually, helped by this doctor, medicines of those yesteryears and care from Bhanumati Kans, Kumar Gandharva recovered and began singing again. However, his wonderful voice and singing style would always bear the scars of his surgery, which are evident to any person who listens to his songs such as ‘Runanubandhachya” from the drama “Dev Dina Ghari Dhavla”.

Bhanumati Kans, who was learning music first under Deodhar and later under Kumar Gandharva himself, nursed him through his illness. His first mehfil after recovery from illness took place in 1953. The illness greatly affected Kumar’s singing in later years – he was to be known for powerful short phrases and his very high voice. He may not have reached the same heights of popularity as contemporaries like Bhimsen Joshi, but he always enjoyed the love and support of dedicated and connoisseur enthusiasts. His singing was also true to the Indian classical music tradition of dialogue with the listeners, of impromptu creation and interactivity.

 

Kumarji also experimented with other forms of singing such as Nirguni bhajans (Devotional songs), folk songs, and with both ragas and presentation, often going from fast to slow compositions in the same raga. He is remembered for his great legacy of innovation, questioning tradition without rejecting it wholesale, resulting in music in touch with the roots of Indian culture, especially the folk music of Madhya Pradesh. His innovative approach towards music led to the creation of new ragas from combinations of older ragas.

 

His style of singing attracted considerable controversy. Veteran singer Mogubai Kurdikar did not consider his vilambit (slow tempo) singing interesting and his own teacher Deodhar criticised some aspects of Kumar’s singing but their relationship was strained from 1940s when Kumar Gandharva married Bhanumati. According to Pandharinath Kolhapure’s book on Kumar Gandharva, Deodhar was against the match. But the criticism mostly centred around his vilambit gayaki. His singing in faster tempos, particularly his mastery over madhya-laya, was very widely revered.

 

Kumar Gandharva’s first son, Mukul Shivputra, was born around 1955. After Bhanumati’s death in 1961 during childbirth, Kumar married Vasundhara Shrikhande, another of his fellow-students at Deodhar School. Vasundhara Komkalimath formed a memorable duo with him in bhajan singing. She also provided vocal support to his classical renditions quite often. Their daughter Kalapini Komkalimath would later accompany both her parents on tanpura.

 

Some of Kumar Gandharva’s ideology is carried forward by his son and daughter, as well as students such as Madhup Mudgal, Shubha Mudgal, Vijay Sardeshmukh and Satyasheel Deshpande. Kumarji’s grandson Bhuvanesh (Mukul Shivaputra’s son) has also made a name for himself as classical singer.

 

For a long spell, Kumar Gandharva’s activities as a musician were managed by his friend and tabla accompanist Vasant Acharekar. Acharekar was Vasant Desai’s assistant in the 1950s but later devoted himself fully to his role as an accompanist to classical singing until his death in late 1970s. His son Suresh Acharekar is also a tabla player, and has accompanied Kumar Gandharva and other artists.

Kumar Gandharva was awarded the Padma Vibhushan award in 1990.

 

Vasantrao Deshpande

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Vasantrao Deshpande (Marathi: वसंतराव देशपांडे) (1920–1983) was a renowned Hindustani classical vocalist who was also a brilliant performer of Natya Sangeet. He had a unique style of singing which is still loved by many ardent fans.

Vasantrao Deshpande was born in Murtijapur, District Akola, which belongs to Vidarbha region of State of Maharasthra, in India.

 

He learned from several gurus, refusing to tie himself down to a single school of singing. His more famous gurus were Shankarrao Sapre of Nagpur, Sureshbabu Mane, Aman Ali Khan of Bhendibazaar gharana, and Ramkrishnabuwa Vaze. But the most important influence on him was Dinanath Mangeshkar, and Vasantrao was the sole true inheritor of Dinanath’s mercurial style of singing. At the age of 8, Bhalji Pendharkar perceived his musical talent and launched him in the role of ‘Krishna’ in Hindi movie ‘Kaliyamardan’.

One of India’s most illustrious classical vocalists, he performed classical and semi-classical music. In the raga form which constitutes classical music, the artist displays his creativity on a basic canvas. Dr. Vasantrao Deshpande’s rendition of famous ragas like Marwa, Salag Waraali, Nat Bhairav, Kauns (in its various forms), Chhayanat, Basant Mukhari, Patamanjari, Jaijaiwanti, Janasammohini, Bhoop, Shree, Kalavati, Maru Bihag, and Yaman had a quality to them that kept people interested. His performance of offbeat ragas was not too different. The sargam was his forte. He was also an accomplished tabala and harmonium player.

 

He was equally at ease with the thumri, dadra and ghazal forms. These find their origins in countries like Iran and Afghanistan. He had picked up the original style and nuances of the thumri and ghazal while studying at Lahore. He also learnt quite a bit of Urdu to elevate his ghazal performances. Another area of music where he made his mark was “Marathi Natyasangeet”. Some of the plays in which he acted and performed were “Katyaar Kaaljaat Ghusli”, “He Bandha Reshmache”, “Vij Mhanali Dhartila”, “Meghmalhar”, “Tukaram” and “Varyawarchi Varaat”. Out of these, “Katyaar Kaaljaat Ghusli” became highly popular. Vasantrao became the cynosure of everyone’s eye for his challenging role of “Khan Aftaab Hussain Khansaheb”. As the play’s popularity began to soar, he acquired the alias, “Pandit Vasantkhan Deshpande”.

 

He acted in movies like “Kaaliya Mardan”(he was just eight), “Dudh Bhaat”, “Ashtavinayak” and many more. He gave playback to more than 80 Marathi films. Besides pure music, he also put together the history of Marathi music plays, from origin showing their evolution up to the present stage. This is how he presented his brainchild, his tour de force, “Marathi Natyasageetachi Vaatchaal” (the evolution of music in Marathi music plays). In this he would first explain the socio-cultural influences that shaped the musicals as they stood in a particular era and then demonstrate the evolution through its music. The concert was first held in Delhi. It stretched for 3 days, 6 hours each day. The experiment was bound to be a winner with the audience.

 

Dr. Vasantrao Deshpande was an academic, earning himself a PhD in “The Transformation of Hindustani Classical Music”. He was also invited to several educational institutions to deliver lectures on music, quite often with live demonstrations.

 

Vasantrao has had several commercial releases under his name. Among them, the more famous are his LP of Marwa and a two-cassette interview, conducted by Va Pu Kale, about the history of Marathi Natya Sangeet which showcases the breadth and depth of Vasantrao’s knowledge about the art form.

 

Vasantrao also conceived Raga Raj Kalyan, a Yaman variant with ‘Pancham’ dropped altogether.

Dr.Vasantrao Deshpande had received the training under different gharanas (schools or styles of music): Patiyala, Bhendi Bazar, Kairana; yet he id not receive the stamp of any particular gharana.

He was a thinker and he blended these styles to develop a style of his own. He did not believe in imitation. Considering the timbre of his voice, pitch, range and expressive capacity, he forged his own characteristic style.

He usually began his exposition of a raag in the Jod-Aalap or ‘Nom-Tom’ style and created a kind of foundation for his musical statements. This created an aesthetic tension in the listener’s minds and then he landed beautifully on the first beat of the khayal- the ‘sum’. His development of the khayal was always full of such tensions and releases, which pleased the audience.

His concert was consists of Khayal, Thumari, Dadra Natya Geet, Gazal etc. A perfect amalgam of traditional classical as well as light music.

He had an equal command of both common and uncommon Ragas and a large repertoire of compositions. He presented them judiciously, considering the type of audience before him.

 

Suraiya Multanikar

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Suraiya Multanikar

Suraiya Multanikar was a lilting voice of the 1960s. The memorable ghazals recorded in her mellifluous voice remind us of the spirit of renewal and adventure that is the core of our national heritage.   Her unique voice is a translation of music through the soul.   Her adorers are still stunned by the enormous influence of her voice that she unleashed on them.   In reality, they have an even greater appreciation for the gracious lady behind the music.   In her earlier days, she was hard at work, trying to secure her slice of the music dream.   Suraiya was perfectly poised for her greatest accomplishment, which brought her laurels from literally everywhere.   ‘Baray bay murawwat hain ye husn walay, kaheen dil laga nay ki koshish na karna’.   Her voice itself an instrument: ‘Theher  jao Aankhon mein thora sa dum hai, tumhain deikh loon warna hasrat rahay gee’.   Note how effortlessly she uttered those high and low notes: ‘Meray dil kay zakhmoan ko neend Aa gaye hai, inhain tum jaga nay ki koshish na karna’.   The fiber of her voice retained resolutions in all scales.

Given here below is a well-remembered ghazal, which endured through all those years: ‘Tum bhi khafa ho loag bhi barham’.   Suraiya goes down in the annals of Pakistani music as the only ghazal singer few could imitate.   In the richer realm of ghazals, this one stands out: ‘Bhoolay say bhi keh do’.

There are a myriad of other examples of her superfluous performances like   the following ghazal: ‘Achchi surat pay ghazab toot kay’.   She brightened so many lives through her talents.   Think of this well-remembered number: ‘Lungh Aaja patan chanha da’.   Suraiya, as impressionable as ever, and her admirers feel proud, and rightly so: ‘Moray angna mein’.   Lately, music buffs have shown a renewed interest in her ghazals. What has sparked the Suraiya revival?

Perhaps her ghazals captured the essence of what life in Pakistan really is about.   It isn’t the bigger, the better that matters it is the will power and smarts never to give up.   She stole the hearts of her fans with ‘Meray qabu mein’.   Suraiya is well known for her alacrity while at the same time still regarding the basics of music.   The following ghazal magnified her popularity among the masses: ‘Baazicha-e- atfaal hai’.

Her ingenuity is evident, perhaps nowhere more so than in the following ghazal: ‘Najaria kahay milaye sajaniya’.   Suraiya’s industrious nature led to one success after another. She is a shining light guiding new prospective artist.
Though Suraiya retired from active singing years ago, her admirers still remember her with real reverence.   Suraiya, an unobtrusively brilliant woman, brought us closer to reality through her voice.   A nation, which does not value the contributions from its artists, is indeed very poor. Fortunately, Pakistani music lovers cherish their singers and actors of the yester years.

 

 

 

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