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Google reminds world of legendary Begum Akhtar

Google reminds world of legendary Begum Akhtar

By Gargi Parsai


New Delhi, Oct 7 (UNI) It took Google, the modern day online search engine, to remind the world about India’s legendary classical music singer, Begum Akhtar, who is best remembered for her mesmerizing rendering of Shakeel Badayuni’s soulful ghazal, ``Ai mohabbat tere anjam pe rona aaya.” Google celebrated the Begum’s 103rd birthday on Saturday with a Doodle that marked her rich contribution to Hindustani classical music. Her famous diamond nose-pin gleaming, she was shown holding a sitar. Born in Bharatkund in Faizabad (Uttar Pradesh) on October 7, 1914 as Akhtari Bai Faizabadi, Begum Akhtar was a famous singer of Ghazal, Dadra and Thumri genres of Hindustani Classical Music. She was one of the earliest female voices to stage public performances and her first music disc was released by Megaphone Record Company. At a tender age of seven she got influenced by the music of Chandra Bai, a theatre artist. She then went on to train under Sarangi exponent Ustad Imdad Khan. She also learnt music from Patiala’s famous Ata Mohammed Khan. Begum Akhtar’s mother took her to Calcutta (now Kolkata), where she got her training from stalwarts like Abdul Waheed Khan and Mohammad Khan before becoming a disciple of Ustad Jhande Khan. Her first public performance was at the age of 15. During a concert she was noticed and praised for her singing talent by the famous Sarojini Naidu which began her unique journey onto becoming the Mallika-e-Ghazal (Queen of Ghazals) of India. Her good looks and expressive voice landed her a few roles in cinemas in the 1930’s. Among the few films she worked in were Mumtaz Beghum (1934), Jawani Ka Nasha (1935), King for a Day (1933) and Satyajit Ray’s Jalsagar (1958). As was the norm then, she sang her own songs in the films. But it was not films she was born to do. She veered back to full-time singing and sang on radio and gave several stage performances. She is known for her timeless Bengali classic “Jochona Koreche Aari”. In 1945, Akhtaribai married Ishtiaq Ahmed Abbasi, a Lucknow-based lawyer and came to be known as Begum Akhtar. With marriage came restrictions on her singing and public performances. This had an adverse effect on her health. The medicine prescribed for her was “music” and after a gap of five years she returned to the recording studios. After her first performance on her return, she wept tears of joy. As she would have wished, she passed away while staging a performance in Ahmedabad in 1974. Begum Akhtar’s supreme mastery over her art was widely recognized and celebrated. She was awarded Padma Shri in 1968 the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Hindustani Music (Vocal)in 1972 and Padma Bhushan in 1975 (posthumously). It is said that the Begum would not sing a ghazal if it did not have soulful lyrics. She was friends with all the famous lyricists and poets of her time. UNI GP AE 1817

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