October 2008

Mukesh was one of the India’s most famous singers. He was also nicknamed as The Man with the Golden Voice because of his unique voice and singing style. He was very popular amongst India’s renowned music composers and his association with Raj Kapoor is a part of Indian filmdom’s folklore. Mukesh was born as Zoraver Chand Mathur in Delhi on July 22nd, 1923. He was a part of bollywood’s famous trinity along with legends like Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar. His life story begins with getting a job in Delhi Department of Public Works. Mukesh left studies after the 10th standard.  His fondness for music grew with the passage of time and he started experimenting with voice recordings. In the meantime he also started to hone his unique singing ability. Mostly he is known for his melodramatic renditions.


Renowned actor of Indian film industry Motilal first identified the singer in Mukesh. Motilal was a distant relative of Mukesh. Mukesh was performing at the wedding of his sister and was instantly recognized by Motilal. Luckily, for Mukesh and us music lovers, he saw the hidden talent of the boy Mukesh and took him to Mumbai. Once he arrived in the dream city, Mukesh started taking formal trainings in music to purify his voice. During this phase, he also managed to act in a Hindi movie named Nirdosh (1941). Though, movie did not perform well at the box office yet he managed to make his mark in the playback singing. His first break as a playback singer was in the movie Pehli Nazar (1945). Call it luck or coincidence, that song was picturized on Motilal.


In the year 1945, Begum Akhtar married barrister Ishtiaq Ahmed Abbasi. Begum Akhtar did not sing for almost five years due to family restrictions and responsibilities. In between, she fell victim to illness and despite all medication, no recovery was in sight. Ultimately, following her heart’s desires she returned to record at the Lucknow Radio station in the year 1949. She recorded a dadra and three Ghazals and a dadra. The result was almost magical. She started feeling better and after that recording she wept with joy. That shows her passion for singing. Afterwards, her public performances till her last breath.


She last acted in a movie named “Jalsa Ghar” made by peerless Satyajit Ray. She performed the role of a classical singer in the movie. She also sang for Madan Mohan, a famous music director to sing in two movies “Daana Paani” (1953) and “Ehsaan” (1954). These movies gave huge hits in that era. The songs “Hamein Dil Mein Basa Bhi Lo” and “Aye Ishq Mujhe Aur to Kuch Yaad” mesmerized one and all and she gained even more popularity. Because of her proficiency in Ghazals she was crowned as Mallika-e-Ghazal or the Queen of Ghazals. It’s a truth that, very few singers can match her style of singing. Her singing style was inimitable. To her credit, most of her compositions were self composed and were totally based on Ragas.


Begum Akhtar’s last performance was a concert in Ahmedabad. After that performance, her health started deteriorating. She took her last breath on on 30th October 1974, leaving many fans disappointed and heart broken.

Begum Akhtar was born as Akhtaribai Faizabadi on 7th October, 1914 in Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh. Like other superstars of her time, she was also re-christened as Begum Akhtar. Interested in music since her childhood days, Begum Akhtar belonged to an affluent family which had no connection with music at all. Seeing her inclination towards music, her family sent her to train with famous sarangi player Ustad Imdad Khan. She also learned classical music with other great singers of that era like Abdul Waheed Khan, Mohammad Khan, and Ustad Jhande Khan Saheb.


She gave her first public performance at an early age of fifteen. She became an instant hit with her melodramatic voice and performance power. She was an expert at different facets of music like Ghazal, thumri and dadras etc. Megaphone record company completed her first ever recording in different forms of music. She also acted in few Hindi films in 1930’s. Her film lists include hit names like; Mumtaz Begum, Ameena, Naseeb Ka Chakkar, Mumtaz Begum, Jawaani Ka Nasha etc. She not only acted but sang in those films as well as per the trends of that era. Her moment of glory came with movie ‘Roti’ in which she sang six Ghazals. The movie was made by acclaimed director Mehboob Khan and music was composed by the famous Anil Biswas. All the songs of the movie were hugely appreciated and thereafter she became the number one choice of all music composers.

In the initial days, K. L Saigal worked as a time keeper with Punjab railways and thereafter as a salesman before carving his niche in the world of Indian music. One of his earlier recorded songs was “Jhulana Jhulao” in Dev Gandhar raga and it became a huge hit. Since then, there was no looking back for this great singer. He not only started singing but acting as well in Indian movies. Films like Subah Ke Sitare, Zinda Laash and Mohabbat Ke Aason announced his arrival whereas his initial songs hits were Premnagar Mein Basoongi Ghar Main, Tadapat Beeti Din Rain and Prem Ki Ho Jai etc. he had an enigmatic voice which completely managed to floor the audiences.


He was destiny’s chosen child. His moment of immortality came with movie ‘Devdas’ released in the year 1935. He not only performed the role of a heartbroken lover with perfection and ease but also rendered his melancholic voice to few immortal songs. He sung songs like Balam Aaye Baso and Dukh Ke Ab Din from the movie and became the darling of the masses. He perfected several forms of music including Bandish, Ghazals, Khayal, Geets, Bhajans, Hori and Dadra etc. He is also credited to sing in many languages including Urdu, Hindi, Pushto, Punjabi, Bengali and Tamil.


He gave many hit movies like Tansen, Bhakta Surdas, Kurukshetra, Omar Khayyam, Tadbeer, Shahjahan etc. his major hit songs are; Parwana, Jagmag, Rumjhum Rumjhum Chaal Tihari, Baag Laga Doon Sajani, Chah Barbaad Karegi, Ai Dil-e-beqarar Jhoom, Gham Diye Mustaqil and the famous Jab Dil Hi Toot Gaya. He died at the age of just 42 on January 18th, 1947. No doubt, he was the harbinger of golden period of Indian music.

K.L Saigal is known as one of the first superstars of film industry. He is credited to rule the industry long before people even heard of Dilip Kumar, Rajesh Khanna or Amitabh Bachchan. Young generation of India is not much aware of his achievements and contributions to Indian entertainment industry. But to the curious, he is still the biggest inspiration and undoubtedly India‘s first superstar. He was born in Jammu on April 11th, 1904. Not for nothing he inspired India’s other jewels like Kishore Kumar and Mukesh.  These legends initially imitated his style before creating their own signature tones. Mr. Saigal has given many hits and we can still find old generations humming his songs.


K.L Saigal started learning about music from a very young age. He was son of Amarchand Saigal and his mother used to take him to Sufi-Pir Salman Yousuf for music. His first song was a Meera Bhajan at the age of just twelve at the court of the king where his father used to work. Though, his father did not like his choice of singing as a career, K L Saigal still persisted with his choice. Since the age of 13, he vigorously practiced singing for three years and refined his voice. He was immensely helped by other great singers of that period like, Faiyaaz Khan, Pahari Sanyal and Pankaj Mullic. His determination can be gauged from the fact that, he never received any official training in singing and cultivated his own signature style which was greatly appreciated and accepted by one and all.