Begum Akhtar

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.