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Legendary playback singer Shamshad Begum and one of the earliest playback singing stars passed away yesterday at the age of 94.

Born in 1914, Shamshad Begum took to singing in 1937 when she started her professional singing career on Peshawar Radio, Lahore and soon enough caught the imagination of her listeners with her beautiful and enchanting voice. Over the years, she rendered some golden classics for Hindi films that included the likes of ‘Kajra Mohabbat Wala’, ‘Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon’, ‘Saiyaan Dil Mein Aana Re’, ‘Kahi Pe Nighahein Kahi Pe Nishana’, ‘Leke Pehla Pehla Pyar’ among others. She was one of the most dominating voices of that era and had some of the best composers vying for her as a playback singer.

But much before that, Shamshad as a child was a singing prodigy by herself. Her exceptional singing talent was noticed while she was still a toddler in school and thereafter since the age of 10, she would sing during family functions and enthrall her audience. And later with the help of her Uncle, she went on to sing professionally for record studios and thereafter films.

Shamshad Begum has sung in multiple languages and was quite popular as a singer not just for her Hindi songs but other language songs as well. She worked with some of the biggest composers of that era and was herself a favorite of some of them. She was known more for her peppy style of singing then for her versatility as is evident from some of her big hits that are fun filled and foot tapping.

Few would know that the famous song ‘Inhi Logon Ne’ from the film Pakeezah was initially sung by her before Lata Mangeshwar took her and rendered the song in her voice or that she has been indirectly instrumental in putting Mohammad Rafi on the singing map or that one of her most famous songs ‘Kajra Mohabbat Wala’ was picturised on a male star – Biswajeet in the film Kismat in 1968, the other female singer being Asha Bhosle.

Over the years, Shamshad Begum stayed away from the media glare and lived with her only daughter Usha and her husband in Powai. The last few months, she had been bedridden due to poor health till her sad demise yesterday. It was only in 2009 that the government had conferred the Padma Bhushan award on the legendary singer.

We wish Shamshad Begum an eternal life. May her soul Rest in Peace!

(First posted by me @ fridaybrands.com)