With her distinct voice and strong sense of melody, Shamshad Begum was one of the most popular singers of the 1950s. However she didn’t have as many songs as her contemporaries Lata Mangeshkar, Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhosle, and often sang for the side actresses.
While April 14 marked Shamshad’s 103rd birthday, April 23 will be her ninth death anniversary. Here we choose 10 masterpieces sung by her, both solo and in duet. The order is chronological.
1 Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon – Patanga (1949)
Shamshad was joined by singer C Ramchandra, who also composed the music. Rajendra Krishan wrote the lines, “Mere piya gaye Rangoon, kiya hai wahaan se telefoon, tumhari yaad sataati hai, jiya mein aag lagaati hai”. The song was filmed on Nigar Sultana and Gope, with dancers.
2 Milte Hi Aankhen – Babul (1950)
Dilip Kumar was seen playing a piano with Munnawar Sultana also on screen. This duet by Talat Mahmood and Shamshad was composed by Naushad. Shakeel Badayuni wrote the romantic lines, “Milte hi aankhen dil hua deewana kisika, afsana mera ban gaya afsana kisi ka”.
3 Saiyyan Dil Mein Aana Re – Bahar (1951)
Filmed on the sprightly Vyjayanthimala, this song was taken to another level by Shamshad. Music was by S.D. Burman, with Rajendra Krishan writing, “Saiyyan dil mein aana re, aake phir na jaana re, cham chama chamcham, Raja banke aana re, mohe leke jaana re, cham chama chamcham”.
4 Ek Do Teen Aaja – Awara (1951)
This song had a legendary dance by Cuckoo in front of a drunk crowd in a smoky den. Raj Kapoor and K.N. Singh were also on screen. Shankar-Jaikishen composed the track specially keeping Shamshad’s voice in mind. Shailendra wrote the lyrics, “Ek do teen aaja mausam hai rangeen”.
5 Kabhi Aar Kabhi Paar – Aar Paar (1954)
One of Shamshad’s most popular songs, it was composed by O.P. Nayyar and written by Majrooh Sultanpuri. The lines were, “Kabhi aar kabhi paar, laaga teer-e-nazar, saiyyan ghayal kiya re tune mora jigar”. Kumkum played a labourer in this song, which also featured Shyama, Guru Dutt and Jagdeep as a boy.
6 Leke Pehla Pehla Pyaar – CID (1956)
Shamshad was joined by Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhosle. The cast comprised Dev Anand and Shakeela, with Sheela Vaz and Shyam Kapoor playing street dancers. Nayyar gave the music and Majrooh wrote the lyrics. Shamshad also sang the hits ‘Boojh Mera Kya Naam Re’ and ‘Kahin Pe Nigahen’ in the film.
7 Meri Neendon Mein Tum – Naya Andaz (1956)
The rare combination of Kishore Kumar and Shamshad got together on this gem composed by Nayyar. Kishore appeared on screen with Meena Kumari. Jan Nissar Akhtar wrote the lines, “Meri neendon mein tum, mere khwabon mein tum, ho chuke hum tumhari mohabbat mein gum; Man ki beena ki dhun, tu balam aaj sun, meri nazron ne tujhko liya aaj chun”.
8 Holi Aayee Re Kaanhai – Mother India (1957)
A brilliant Holi song shot in a group, it was sung in folk style by Shamshad Begum with chorus. The stellar cast had Nargis, Raj Kumar, Rajendra Kumar and Sunil Dutt with Kumkum. Shakeel wrote the words to Naushad’s tune, “Holi aayee re kaanhai, Holi aayee re, Holi aayee re kaanhai, rang chhalke suna de zara bansuri”.
9 Bheega Bheega Pyar Ka Sama – Sawan (1959)
One of those tonga-ride songs, it was composed by Hansraj Behl and written by Prem Dhawan. Rafi and Shamshad sang for Bharat Bhushan and Ameeta. The lines were, “Bheega bheega pyar ka sama bata de tujhe jaana hai kahan baliye bata de tujhe jaana hai kahan”.
10 Teri Mehfil Mein – Mughal-e-Azam (1960)
This classic was sung by Lata Mangeshkar, Shamshad and chorus, and set in qawwali style. It was filmed on Madhubala, Nigar Sultana and Dilip Kumar. Naushad composed the tune with Shakeel writing, “Teri mehfil mein kismat aazma kar hum bhi dekhenge, ghadi bhar ko tere nazdeek aakar hum bhi dekhenge”.
Of these 10 songs, three each are composed by Naushad and Nayyar, both of who had many other hits with the singer. Songs she sang with either music director could make for great playlists on their own.