Shamshad Begum

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Shamshad Begum

Born: 14 April 1919

Died: 23 April 2013

  • She was an Indian singer who was one of the first playback singers in the Hindi film industry.
  • She had a distinctive voice and was a versatile artist, singing over 6,000 songs in Hindi and Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil and Punjabi languages and of them 1287 songs were Hindi film songs.
  • She worked with maestros including Naushad Ali, S. D. Burman, C. Ramchandra and O. P. Nayyar.
  • Her songs from the 1940s to the early 1970s remain popular and continue to be remixed.
  • She gradually became a recluse and devoted herself entirely to her grandchildren, to the point that the general public was unaware of whether she was alive or dead.
  • In 2004, a controversy erupted in the media, when several publications wrongly reported that she had died a few years previously.
  • Her family clarified in a press release that this was not so; and it later emerged that the Shamshad Begum who had died in 1998 was Saira Banu’s maternal grandmother.
  • Her self-imposed seclusion is remarkable, because during all those decades away from the public eye, her old songs remained popular with the public and not a day passed without at least a couple of songs being played on Vividh Bharati and All India Radio.

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