Tag Archives: Begum Akhtar

Rediscovering Begum Akhtar


Tribute to the voice: Vice-President G.S. Pathak presenting the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Hindustani vocal music to Begum Akhtar
Tribute to the voice: Vice-President G.S. Pathak presenting the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Hindustani vocal music to Begum Akhtar

It’s been an annual ritual for over 25 years. The first and last week of October have always had legendary ghazal and thumri singer Begum Akhtar spinning on my system. The doyenne was born on October 7, 1914, in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh and passed away on October 30, 1974, in Ahmedabad. So a few days before the dates, I have this Begum Aapa trip.

If there’s a voice that defined pathos, dard, deepness, gehraai, technique, taiyyari, she was definitely somewhere on top, globally. Check out her rendition of Shakeel Badayuni’s ‘Mere Humnafas Mere Humnava’ and the picture is absolutely clear.

Begum Akhtar fans are totally devoted to her singing, and I am no exception. Strangely enough, I hated her the first time I heard her. She didn’t let me sleep in peace. This was back in Jaipur, where I was a young rookie journalist. I was more into rock bands like Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd and Moody Blues, but my senior colleague and room-mate Abhay Kant hated my taste and insisted on playing Begum Akhtar late at night. It was torture, initially. But in a few weeks, I just got hooked on to Mir Taqi Mir’s ‘Ulti Ho Gayi Sab Tadbeerein’ and Momin Khan Momin’s ‘Woh Jo Hum Mein Tum Mein Qaraar Tha’. Honestly, I discovered the names of these poets much later.

Equations changed. Tull and Floyd were put on hold and I would listen to Akhtar even after Kant slept. By the time he left the following year for another job, I think he was sick of my listening to her. Yet, he took all his cassettes with him, leaving me bereft. For the next five years, her songs would only appear as earworms in the recesses of my mind. One day, at Rhythm House, Mumbai, I picked up a double compilation. The surprise was that many compositions were credited to the great Khayyam.

Some old favourites like Badayuni’s ‘Ae Mohabbat Tere Anjaam Pe Rona Aaya’ and Mirza Ghalib’s ‘Dil Hi Toh Hai Na Sang-o-Khisht’. But the real discovery was her rendition of Sudarshan Faakir on ‘Kuch Toh Duniya Ki Inaayaat Ne Dil Tod Diya’, ‘Ishq Mein Ghairat-e-Jazbaat Ne Rone Na Diya’ and ‘Apunon Ke Sitam Hamse Bataaye Nahin Jaate’.

And there was Faiz Ahmed Faiz on ‘Aaye Kucch Abr Kuchh Sharaab Aaye’ and ‘Donon Jahaan Teri Mohabbat Mein Haarke’. Besides ghazals, there was light classical repertoire like ‘Deewana Banaana Hai Toh’ and ‘Hamari Atariya. What timbre, texture, throw, tonality, totality.

Akhtar has always been special. She physically left us 43 years ago, but her music still rings in our ears and resounds in our hearts. Interestingly, there is another musician I get back to this month. The great music director S.D. Burman was born on Oct 1, 1906, and passed away on October 31, 1975. Next week’s column is dedicated to him.

PS: Thank you Abhay Kant for the Begum Akhtar introduction. Sorry about blasting the rock music.

source:  http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Entertainment> Music / by Narendra Kusnur / October 25th, 2017

Meet the Indian girl who made Google doodle on Begum Akhtar



For connoisseurs of Indian music, Google’s October 7 doodle is special. Today, Google is celebrating the 103rd birth anniversary of Mallika-e-Ghazal Begum Akhtar with a commemorative doodle. Manuja Singh Waldia – a young Indian illustrator and graphic designer who studied in Delhi before she moved to the US – was commissioned to do the doodle art.

Google describes Begum Akhtar — born Aktharibai Faizabadi — as one of India’s most iconic singers. “In spite of early personal tragedies, Begum Akhtar’s mother recognized her daughter’s gift at a young age. With the help of family members, she sent her daughter for vocal training with some of the Ustads (masters) of the time. Though her soulful and melancholic voice was featured in many movies, Begum Akhtar ultimately returned to classical music, where she composed many of her own melodies and steeped herself in the rhythm of ghazals. After marrying, Begum Akhtar gave up singing. However in 1949, deteriorating health drew her back to her calling. Weeping tears of jubilation, she finally returned to a Lucknow studio to record and continued to share her gift with the world until her death in 1974. Her rich voice was comforting, particularly during the years India underwent upheaval caused by partition. With nearly 400 songs to her credit, Begum Akhtar’s legacy shines on in the musical traditions she loved over her lifetime,” Google’s description of the iconic singer states.

The doodle on Begum Akhtar is Waldia’s first for Google. When Penguin Classics decided to publish new editions of Shakespeare’s plays to enliven his work offstage, Waldia was commissioned to do the covers that would give the centuries old texts a contemporary update. “Erich Nagler, art director at Google, San Francisco, had commissioned me to work on it. He had traced contacted me through email,” said Waldia from Oregon. Nagler’s Twitter profile states that he is the art director for the Google doodles team in San Francisco. “The brief was to create on commemorating Begum on her birthday, and celebrate her status as one of the most popular ghazal singers, and one of the first female public ghazal performers,” she added.

The project was wrapped up a few weeks ago. For many in India, it was a pleasant surprise to find Google commemorating the birth anniversary of the legendary singer. “She deserves all the attention in the world. She is a pioneer and early feminist! She is pretty amazing. She overcame a lot of prejudice against female singers, survived sexual abuse as a young girl, escaped a bad marriage, was independent during times where women were either wives or mothers. It is so inspiring! I was reading articles on her today which mentioned her smoking habit, and insinuated that as a character flaw. That’s the kind of sexism that still exists today. So, she probably faced worse during her time,” the doodler said.

Having studied Communication Design at NIFT Delhi, Waldia also insists that she draws a lot of creative inspiration from Kolkata – a city where Begum Akhtar spent many years of her professional life. In 1934, the ‘Koyelia’ singer had the first stage performance in this city. It was here that she acted in films and theatres as well. Her first album – ‘Deewana Banana Hai Toh Deewana Bana De’ – was recorded here as well. She had sung for the megaphone company. The record was such a huge hit that the company had to make a special unit in Dumdum to meet buyers’ demand! “I’ve been to Kolkata thrice in my life, and had some of the happiest times there. The city’s creative energy had a major influence on me while growing up, and when I was contemplating if I should be an artist,” she said.

source: http://www.gadgetsnow.com / Gadgets Now / Home> News> Tech News / by Priyanka Dasgupta / TNN / October 07th, 2017

Tribute to Tabla Maestro Brings Stalwarts to Bengaluru

Hyderabad, TELANGANA :


Bengaluru :

A musical evening on February 27 marks the birth centenary of one the world’s most renowned tabla players – Ustad Shaik Dawood Khan.

This event, at the Palace Grounds, is organised by the Tabla Nawaz Ustad Shaik Dawood Trust.

Shaik Dawood Khan (1916-1992) is regarded as one of the greatest tabla maestros of his time, and was the torch bearer of the Farrukhabad, Ajrada, Lucknow, Punjab and Delhi styles.

As part of the centenary celebrations, the trust has organised concerts across the country. In December 2015, a two-day festival took place in Hyderabad. A second season began in Hyderabad on January 7 and 8, 2016.

The Bengaluru event is the third in the series.

Varied Journey

Ustad Shaik Dawood Khan is known as the ‘Thirakwa of Hyderabad’. Between 1926 and 1990, he accompanied hundreds of vocalists and instrumentalists, with equal respect and admiration, irrespective of their age or rank.

Shaik Dawood Khan was born on December 16, 1916. He was attracted to music from a very tender age, and his father Shaik Hashim took him to his neighbour Ameer Qawwal (a performing artist) from whom Shaik Dawood gained knowledge in singing and playing the tabla.

When he was nine, he became a formal disciple of Ustad Khasim Saheb of Sholapur, who had attained fame in the region as a tabla accompanist. During eight years under him, Shaik Dawood Khan emerged as a musician in his own right. Subsequently, he learnt from Ustad Alladia Khan, a Hyderabadi tabla nawaz, as also from Ustad Mohmmed Khan, Ustad Chote Khan and Ustad Jahangir Khan.

At the age of 46, when the whole music world was at his feet, Shaik Dawood Khan had the humility to become a disciple of Ustad Mahboob Khan Mirajkar.

Shaik Dawood Khan had accompanied almost all the greats of his time – Ustad Abdul Kareem Khan, Ustad Fayyaz Khan, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ustad Vilayat Khan, Ustad Abdul Haleem Jaffer Khan, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar and illustrious women  vocalists such as Roshan Ara Begum, Girija Devi, Begum Akhtar, and Gangubai Hangal. In fact, Shaik Dawood had the unique distinction of having accompanied four generations of artistes.


Shaik Dawood Khan was honoured with the Hindu-Muslim Unity Front Award in 1975. In February 1992, he was presented the Sangeet Natak Akademy Award. He was a star attraction on Deccan Radio run by the Nizam, which subsequently became All India Radio, Hyderabad.

At Palace Grounds

The musical evening on Saturday begins with a tabla homage by Sarfaraz Ahmed, grandson of Ustad Shaik Dawood, followed by a tabla ensemble featuring Ustad Shabbir Nisar (son of the ustad) and Abhman Kaushal (USA), Uday Kumar, Mihir Kallianpur and Roopak Kallurkar.

This will be followed by vocal music by Vidushi Arati Ankalikar-Tikekar. The grand finale is a sitar session with Ustad Shahid Parvez accompanied on the tabla by Pandit Anindo Chatterjee.

5.30 pm, Palace Grounds, Gate 4. Entry free.

source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Bengaluru / by Express News Service / February 27th, 2016

Play on thumri queen Begum Akhtar

Lucknow :

A play by Nadira Babbar on the life of thumri queen Begum Akhtar and career counselling sessions besides felicitation of ten prominent alumni of the Lucknow University will be the highlights of LU foundation day celebrations this year scheduled on November 25.

The celebrations are being organised jointly by the Alumnae Society and the University of Lucknow. Governor TV Rajeswar and chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav would attend the function. Justice AS Anand, chairperson, National Human Rights Commission and former Chief Justice of India, would be the guest of honour. Justice Anand is a law graduate of LU.

Giving this information at a press conference on Saturday, LU Alumnae Society president Ram Kumar Bhargava said, “other illustrious alumni to be felicitated are Harish Chandra Gupta, additional defence secretary, (MSc from LU); Kamal Kumar, director, national police academy (MSc from LU); Nadira Babbar, director, Bhartendu Natya Academy (BA from LU); Dr SS Agarwal, former director, SGPGI (KGMC graduate); Gogi Saroj Pal, artist (she did her BFA from LU); Lagan fame writer KP Saxsena (MSc from LU); veteran journalist Seema Mustafa (MA English from LU); Rajendra Prasad, vice-president, American Express-India and subcontinent (a commerce graduate of LU) and Nighat Khan Lodhi, former national football player.

Nadira Babbar will stage the play on November 24 in the evening. Naresh Agarwal, state transport minister will be the chief guest. The main function to felicitate the alumni will be held during the day, a session on career counselling will be held on November 25 evening, which will be addressed by Rajendra Prasad, vice-president, American Express, VV Singh, CEO Reliance Infocom, Parveen Talha, member, Union Public Service Commission and Jayant Krishna, centre head, Tata Consultancy Services. Efforts are also on to invite KK Srivastava and Amrita Das for the counselling sessions as well, Bhargava said.

The Alumnae Society has also proposed to build an alumni house on the university campus for the purpose of coordinating the activities of the society. Vice-chancellor have accepted the proposal and has allotted the land of men’s hostel of academic staff college for the purpose. Chief minister will lay the foundation of the alumni house. Bhargava said that registration for membership of Alumnae Society are open and those who want can contact office-bearers for detail. Others who addressed the press conference included vice-chancellor, Prof SB Singh, pro vice-chancellor Prof MP Singh and AK Srivastava, Alumnae Society general secretary.

source: http://www.articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Lucknow> Lucknow University / TNN / November 01st, 2004