Talat Mahmood: Duets with Shamshad Begum
Talat Mahmood (24 February 1924 – 9 May 1998) did commence his career in Hindi films in 1945, but his career got really moved to top gear only after success of Aye Dil Mujhe Aisi Jagah Le Chal JahaaN Koi Na Ho (Arzoo, 1950 – Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri – Music: Anil Biswas). That also was the period when the careers of two other cotemporary male playback singers, Mohammad Rafi and Mukesh, were also getting the right momentum. Add to this the fact that Talat Mahmood’s attention was also getting divided between his playback singing and acting in the same period. However, his four-decade long, 740+ songs rich career conferred this velvet-voice singer the uncrowned title of King of Ghazals.
Shamshad Begum (14 April 1919 – 23 April 2013), acclaimed as the ‘first’ female playback singer of Hindi cinema had a very unique voice – quite different with her contemporaries, like Noor Jehan, Kanan Bala, Suraiya, Amirbai Karnataki, Zohrabai Amablewali etc. of ‘40s or like Lata Mangeshkar, Geeta Dutt, Asha Bhosle and the like of ‘50s and ‘60s. She had created her own space from her very early films like Khajanchi (1941) and Khandan (1942). Even during the periods of 1950 to (almost) 1955 and then at the end of the career years 1967-1968 she commanded a respectable fan following.
As such, the common period of peaks of Talat Mahmood and Shamshad Begum can be seen to be between 1950 to 1955., beginning with Babul (1950- Lead actors – Dilip Kumar, Nargis and Munnavar Sultana – Music: Naushad). As the fate would have it, even after the stupendous success of Babul, Naushad had started shifting to Mohammad Rafi (for Dilip Kumar) and after success of Andaz (1949), he had already moved to Lata Mangeshkar as the lead female playback singer. Even in Babul, Shamshad Begum was playback singer for ‘parallel’ lead heroine Munnavar Sultana only. So Shamshad Begum could have capitalized on that success sonly if films with similar star configurations would have been lined up! Other major, first-line music directors, like S D Burman, Shankar Jaikishan< C Ramchandra, Madan Mohan, Roshan etc. who were using Talat Mahmood very successfully in those years were not using Shamshad Begum as lead singer. O P Nayyar was the only one who did use her as lead singer, but then he did not use Talat Mahmood as his preferred male singer.
The result is that we have (just) 10 duets of Talat Mahmood and Shamshad Begum, including 3 triads. Of the 10 duets, Babul itself had 2 duets + 1 triad. Rest of the seven songs are distributed among six music directors, all of them generally considered as not belonging to the front-line music directors (the only exception here being that of Vinod).
Coming back to the subject of the present episode, we commemorate the memory of Talat Mahmood in the month of his birth by taking up the theme of his rare duets. Till now, we have explored –
In 2021, Talat Mahmood: Duets with Geeta Dutt, from 1954 to 1957, with one duet even in 1972.
Presently, we take up Talat Mahmood’s duets with Shamshad Begum.
Milte Hi Aankein Dil Hua Diwana Kis Ka – Babul (1950) – Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni – Music: Naushad
Shamshad Begum easily matching the softness of Talat Mahmood is one major reason that has made the song evergreen.
Duniya Badal Gayi Meri Duniya Badal Gayi – Babul (1950) – Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni – Music: Naushad
Elaborate orchestration by Naushad, effortless of pathos in Shamshad Begum’s delivery of her part and the natural tranquility of Talat Mahmood’s voice easily draw the listener into the mood of the song.
Nadiya Mein Utha Hai Shor, Chhayi Hai GhaTaa Ghanghor, Jaana Door Hai …. Nadi Kinare Saatha Hamaare Sham Shuhani Aayee – with Mohammad Rafi and chorus – Babul (1950) – Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni – Music: Naushad
It is more of a technicality that song has to be classified as a triad, since Mohammad Rafi chips in more as part of support system that makes the song basically a ‘boat song’
Chhod Babul Ka Ghar Aaj Mohe Jaana Pada – Babul (1950) – Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni – Music: Naushad
This song is technically not classified as a duet because primarily it is Shamshad Begum solo being played a credit title song. But, in later versions, Talat Mahmood sings only one line before the song is transformed into Shamshad Begum plus chorus playful dance song. In one more version, the song comes up as slow paced Talat Mahmood solo, The song comes again at the end of the film wherein Mohammad Rafi takes the song to a very high scale crescendo to match the rising pain of the tragedy of the story of the film.
However, irrespective of the way the song has been used in the film, the song is a classic example of the way Shamshad Begum and Talat Mahmood’s voices can blend with each other, if so desired.
Jawani Ke Zaamane Mein Jo DIl Na Lagega – Madhubala (1950) – Lyrics: Rajendra Krishan – Music: Lachhiram
Here is a very pleasing composition wherein even Talat Mahmood comes up so naturally in playful mood.
From all the accounts, the songs of the film had met with good deal of success at that time. However, even with the lead star cast of Dev Anand and Madhubala, the film was a disaster at box office, and the song, unfortunately remains among fading from the memory category now.
Laila Laila PukaruN Main Ban Mein – Mr. Sampart (1952) – Lyrics: Pandit Indra – Music: Balkrishna Kalla
The song comes up in the film as clips of different shots of the films that the heroine has enacted as part of the story (based on R K Narayan’s famous story, Mr. Sampat, The printer of Malgudi. As such, Talat Mahmood and Shamshad Begum sing each of the clips as solos.
O Mruganayani Madhubahini Menka Tum Ho KahaaN – Mr. Sampat (1952) – Lyrics: Pandit Indra – Music: Balkrishna Kalla
The duet is presented here with a disclaimer that some sites mention P G Krishnaveni and Geeta Dutt as the singers,
Bura Hua Jo Inse Hamare Naina Lad Gaye Ji – Laadla (1954) – with Mohammad Rafi and Asha Bhosle – Lyrics: Raja MahendI Ali Khan – Music: Vinod
This is a typical ‘noNk-joNk’ genre song but is unique for two pairs of couples involved in the melee of repartee.
Mohabbat Bas Dil Ke Itane Se Afsane Ko Kahete Hai -Mangu (1954) – Lyrics: S H Bihari – Music: Mohammad Shafi
Mohammad Safi has deftly used harmonium in this ‘qawwali’ style song. Talat Mahmood gracefully plays cheerful mood. Shamshad Begum’s voice is usually very thin.
Aside: The film did have O P Nayyar as a n additional music director, but the credit of using Talat – Shamshad in a duet remains with Mohammad Shafi, who had introduced Suman Kalyanpur in this film, while O P Nayyar had used Asha Bhosle for the first time for his song.
Kehana Mera Maan Le Ye Yaar -Shaan-E-Haatim (1958) – with Balbir – Lyrics: Raja Mahendi Ali Khan – Music: A R Queresh
The song is credited as triad, however the clip available has only Balbir’s voice. The film and the song are so obscure, that no further information seems to be available.
I am not able to trace the digital footprint of the song, Dekho Baras Rahi Barsaat – Titli / For Ladies Only (1951) – Lyrics; Sahrai – Music Vinod, on the net.
The utterly short association of Talat Mahmood and Shamshad Begum is so strongly overshadowed by their songs from Babul (195) that the range and variety wich can be seen in the other duets probably remains unappreciated. Well, that is the irony of fate of HFM, with which we have learnt to live with.
We will take up Talat Mahmood’s duets with Asha Bhosle in the next episode in this series.