Thursday, August 18, 2016



Roshanara Begum ( 1917-1982 )

“ Our New Generation is talented but they are in extreme Hurry to sing in concerts or come to Stage . “
Roshanara Begum.

She was born and brought up at Calcutta in a family that was originally from Bihar. Her real name was Wahidunnissa. Her mother Chanda Begum was also a well-known singer. Laddan khan the famous Sarangi player from Calcutta was her first teacher .To learn music, She moved to Bombay to live with her father’s sister ( Asmat Begum herself a singer ) .

While in Bombay , she married a Police officer (  Chaudhary Ahmed Khan ,  A  Punjabi Muslim who happened to be Deputy commissioner of Police ) . After marriage , she moved to live  in  a spacious Bunglow some time in early thirties of the last century . She sang for AIR ‘s Bombay station and came to be known as Bombay Wali  Roshanara.

While in Bombay , her singing attracted the attention of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan Sahib . He brought her to Kirana Gharaana and polished her voice and style. He adopted her as his daughter though Hirabai Barodakar  (1905-1989) was his real daughter . Ustaad always said that he had three daughters ( Sarswati Devi and Suresh Babu were other children of Ustaad Abdul Karim Khan sahib ) .
While under the tutelage of the great Ustaad , She sang for Radio and Films for which Khan sahib had no objection. She also sang in Private concerts .

Roshanara Begum was short, dark and  fat . She was not beautiful . But the moment she sang , she was majestic , queenly. Dignified and stunning . Her beauty lay in her exceptional and gifted voice that defined her Grand personality . Her unassuming nature, naturalness and calmness added to her tallness as an artist.  That is why she earned the title of ‘Malika-e-Mauseeqi’ .

Her renditions in Shankara, Shuddh Kalyan, Basant ,Marubihag .Kedara and especially Darbari Raaga were awe-inspiring that even perplexed Ustaad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan sahib , Malika e Tarranum Noor Jahaan and Allah Rakha Sahib ( Renowned Tabla player ) . As a vocalist,  Melody remained the most vital attribute of her singing . She had an exceptional deftness and  command  over   Raagas.

 Alongwith her husband ,She migrated to Pakistan in 1948  but  Kept  Visiting  India   for Musical concerts.

Towards the end of her life she felt lonely  . Her Music also faced  the wrath of the then rulers . It was the time when General Zia-ul-Haq ruled the country and musicians of all kinds were badly affected by the denial of proper space    on  Radio and Television .

Away from Lahore , in a sleepy town of Lalmusa ( Her Husband belonged to this Town ) , this great singer died a lonely death in the company of some birds , cats and Puppies that she kept as pets. She died issue less.

Her Thumris , Dadras , Gazals , songs and other forms of Vocal music is a sub-continental Treasure . It lives for the posterity and innumerable Admirers of this Grand singer .

Her Music Mehfils had real connoisseurs . Quite often people threw flowers at her while she sang. She loved wearing saris . She hated Air Travel.

And dear readers , at your convenience, at least listen her :-

(1) Dolay Re Mun Holay Holay
(2) Jamuna ke Teer (Thumri originally sung by Abdul Karim Khan sahib)
(3) Piya bin Nahin Aavat Chain (thumri)
(4) Idhar Barq e Tapaan Rakh di

So Long , so Much On Roshanara Begum………

( Autar Mota )

CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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