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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Remembering of Famous & Actress Khursheed Begum

The death anniversary of Khursheed Begum,the famous singer and actress of the ’40s, is being observed on April 18t a musical evening sat a renowned singer, Khursheed Begum, among the audience. A monumental personality of the big screen of yesteryear, Khursheed Apa, as everyone called her fondly, made a young man, after hearing him sing, feel ten feet tall when she said “Beta, awaz achchi hai, bus riyaz karte raho.” Here was a highly accomplished singer encouraging a beginner like me. She had, in her days, enthralled the music buffs and film-goers with her scintillating voice and her attractive style of singing.

Khursheed Begum was born in Chunian, a village in Lahore district on April 14, 1914. Her real name was Irshad Begum but when she joined the film industry she adopted Shehla as her name. However, by the time she became a celebrity, she was known as Khursheed Begum.

The legendary singer’s memorable ditties from Tansen and Bhagat Surdas still linger in the memory of music lovers. Her solos Ghata ghan ghor ghor and Barso re and the dulcet duet with K.L. Saigal More bala pan ke saathi from Tansen, have left an indelible mark on our musical memory. Similarly, the songs from Bhagat Surdas are still remembered after so many decades.

Khursheed Begum started her film career in the early thirties and was among the two actresses in the early 20th century to have had the opportunity of sharing stellar honours with the one and only K.L. Saigal. Suraiyya, the other popular singer-actress of the forties and fifties, was the other artist to have worked with Saigal.

Khursheed Begum made her debut with Laila Majnoo in 1931 when she appeared on the screen under the name of Shehla. She was directed as an actress by J.J. Madan and as a singer by composer Brijlal Verma. Later, she did a number of movies for Ranjeet Movietone, a prestigious film production company in the pre-Independence period. Her co-stars included stalwarts such as Saigal, Motilal, Isharilal and Jairaj.

Until the mid-forties, actors and actresses playing leading roles were expected to record their own songs, even when playback singing facilities were available. K. L. Saigal, Pankhaj Malik, Noor Jahan, Khursheed Begum, Suraiyya, K.C. Dey and Kananbala were in demand because they were either actors or actresses who could sing well or singers who could act well.

Khursheed Begum played leading roles in as many as 37 movies and sang some delectable numbers. One of the top music directors of the era, Khemchandra Prakash, who composed the music of Tansen, recorded her songs in Mumtaz Mahal, Shahenshah Babar, Prabhu ka ghar, Pardesi and Holi. In 1947, she acted with Dev Anand in Aagey barho. After Independence, she shifted to Pakistan and settled down in Karachi, where she did two movies in the fifties — Fankar and Mandi, both of which unfortunately didn’t click.

In 1956 she got married to Yousuf Bhaimian, and after spending more than four decades in anonymity, she passed away on April 18, 2001.

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