Shamshad Begum, who had been ailing for the past few months, died on Tuesday evening. A widow since 1955, she lived with her daughter Usha Ratra. The funeral ceremonies were conducted on Tuesday night at a small, private affair with a few friends and admirers in Andheri east.
Amongst the first woman playback singers in the Hindi film industry, Shamshad Begum was born in April 14, 1919 in Amritsar, Punjab. Interested in singing from a young age, she got her first break with Peshawar Radio, Lahore, in December 1947.
Later, her voice with a nasal tinge became a hit and she sang for top heroines of the era, leaving behind a rich legacy of her soulful tunes.
Some of her famous songs include 'Kajra mohabbat wala', 'Leke pehla pehla pyar', 'Kahinpe nigahen, kahinpe nishaana', 'Chhod babul ka ghar', 'Saiyan dilme aana re' and 'Teri mehfil me kismat ajmaa kar hum bhi dekhenge'.
She was a favourite of music directors like Naushad Ali and O.P. Nayyar. Besides Hindi, Shamshad Begum also sang in Punjabi, Bengali and other Indian languages.
Actor Amitabh Bachchan expressed his sorrow on Twitter. "The golden voice of Shamshad Begum, play back singer of great eminence in some of the most historic film songs... now silent... RIP," he tweeted.
Nightingale Lata Mangeshkar was saddened by the news. She tweeted, "I came to know this morning that famous playback singer Shamshad Begumji is no more. Saddened by this news. I sang with her in several films. She was a cheerful and simple personality. My condolences to her family (sic)."
Singer Shweta Pandit wrote, "RIP Shamshad Begum - The music Jewel of India is no more. Can't believe am born at a time, when some of the greatest artists are leaving us."
Film maker Madhur Bhandarkar posted, "Shamshad Begum can truly be call the Indian nightingale. She'll be immortal because of her songs. RIP."
Actress Amrita Rao posted, "Kajra mohobat wala, Kabhi aar kabhi paar, Saiyya dil mey aana rey... Mere piya gaye rangoon... and many eternal classics... RIP Shamshad Begumji."