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Mubarak Begum With Her Contemporary Singers
Mubarak Begum With Her Contemporary Singers


 Begum was born in Ahmedabad (Rajasthan) and moved to Mumbai in anticipation of making it as a singer. Mohay Aane Lagi Angrayee, was the first song she recorded for the film “Aiye”, which also a duet with Lata. Several songs and several films came and went but nothing spectacular came along. Her singing career leveraged heavily on Kamal Amrohi’s film “Daera” in which she sang seven songs, some of which became popular. “Devta Tum Ho Mera Sahara” probably got the most recognition. Again the film did not do well at the box-office and this affected her struggling singing career appreciably, despite being gifted with a unique and soulful voice and rendering style. Around the same time, SD Burman recorded Woh Na Ayenge Palat Kar for Devdas, which was received very well. Bimal Roy’s Madhumati was released in 1958 and is still remembered 50 years later for its splendid musical score by Salil Chowdhry and Mubarak Begum’s “Hum Haal-e-dil Sunaenge” was one of the many hits in this very popular film.

This was followed by a string of hits in the early 60s. The haunting and soulful rendering of “Kabhee tanhiyon mein yun, hamari yaad ayegi” is timeless. It is said that the director of that film Kidar Sharma sat and listened to the entire song in the recording room with his eyes closed and opened then well after the recording was over. He said he was spellbound and there are thousands who would share those sentiments even today. Another unforgettable song of that time was “Mujhko apne gale laga lo ae mere hamrahi”, a duet with Rafi in the film Hamrahi, superbly composed by Shanker-Jaikishan. Kuch Ajnabi se Aap Hein, Kuch ajnabi se Hum composed by Khayyam to Sahir’s lyrics in Shagoon is very lilting, Bemurawwat Bewafa in Sushila, Shama Gul Kar Ke Na Ja were other gems of that era, which people hum even today. One of my personal favorites is Nigahon se Dil Mein Chale Ayye Ga from Hameer Hath. Try listening to this with the lights low (preferably all dark) and consider whether any singer can come even close to replicating this rendering. There is a female duet with Asha Bhosle titled Humen Dil De Deke Sawtan Ghar Jana, with a very unusual style.
She has recorded songs for almost all major composers like Shankar-Jaikishan, SD Burman, Salil Chowdhury, Kalyanji-Anandji, Khayyam, Naushad and Madan Mohan. However, despite her immense skills of voice modulation, she was unable to hit big time. The hits were many but the opportunities were still not enough. Consequently, despite being a singing phenomena she was unable to reach the heights she truly deserved. It would not be wrong to say that it was truly Bollywood’s loss due to its cruel internal politics and vested interests of the more influential female singers. Her wings were clipped just when she was ready to reach for the stars.
Today, Mubarak Begum is barely alive and lives in Mumbai’s Jogeshwari neighbourhood, in her twilight years, with nothing to look forward to. I say barely because despite being in her late 70s and with multiple health issues herself, she is having a hard time keeping her head above water with little or no income and is additionally saddled with the responsibility of taking care of her 40 year old daughter Shafaq Bano, who is bedridden and suffers from advance stage Parkinson’s Disease. She would have been in even deeper waters, had it not been for poet Javed Akhtar and the late Sunil Dutt, who by their efforts made a strong case and managed to secure a Government flat for her to have a roof on her head. It must only be the inner strength and her endurance which she possesses, that has provided her the sustenance to survive such a turbulent life.
Dear friends, I feel that instead of just feeling sorry for her present conditions we should come together to do some hand-holding for her and help in whatever way we can. Having been caught between a rock and a hard place for her basic survival, she has kept her pride on the shelf and openly expressed her cry for help. I have her address and bank account details. Please send her directly whatever financial assistance comes to your mind.
Mubarak Begum
Savings Banks Account No 10279255298
State Bank of India, Jogeshwari (W), Branch # 26793293
Mumbai 400102 INDIA
If you are living in USA or Canada, I will also be consolidating contributions and making transfers regularly through Western Union. You could send your contributions to
Siraj Khan
10 Atherton Road
Hudson MA 01749 USA

19 thoughts on “MUBARAK BEGUM

  1. Dear Mr Siraj Khan,
    She was not born in Ahmedabad and Ahmedabad is not in Rajasthan. Ahmedabad is the largest city in Gujarat State and the fifth largest in India after Kolkata, Mumbai. Chennai and Delhi. She was born in Sujangarh, Churu, Rajasthan.
    You say in the last paragraph that you will be consolidating all the contributions you receive for Mubarak Begum and her daughter Shafaq Bano through Western Union. Sending money through Western Union is very expensive with their eye-watering heavy commission and delivery charges. You could save on commission and other charges and pass on these savings to Mubarak Begum by opening a Rupee account with an Indian bank in your town or city in the USA or Canada and then writing a cheque in rupees in favour of Mubarak Begum and sending the cheque to her directly by post or by direct transfer to her account.
    It is a shame that we Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis do not care at all for our own folks who have spread so much joy and entertainment and given so much listening pleasure to the millions of her country folks through their beautiful voices and forget them in their time of need. This trait was very well portrayed by Guru Dutt in ‘Pyaasa’ and ‘Kagaz Ke Phool’ where a poet and a film director, respectively, where praised during their heydays and soon forgotten when they fell into bad times. Why can’t the film folks hold some charity or other musical function to pay tribute to her and raise some necessary cash to help her? I am sure if someone living in Mumbai or India were to hold some musical functions in Mumbai and all over India featuring Mubarak Begum’s songs, people will be very willing to buy the tickets to attend such entertaintment functions. Such functions can raise the necessary cash that can be given to Mubarak Begum. Have the very rich Filmfare or Screen newspapers in Mumbai or Zee TV and other electronics media who give awards every year ever thought of giving Mubarak Begum a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ together with some cash reward? I am glad that you are doing something to alleviate her and her daughter’s suffering. Could you please send me her residential and postal address in Jogeshwari on my email address?
    Bahot Bahot Sukh Ria

    Subhash Sampat

  2. I am posting here a news item about Mubarak Begum that appeared in the Friday, November 28, 2008 issue of The Tribune in Chandigarh.

    Mubarak Begum to give away Rafi awards
    Tribune News Service

    Chandigarh, November 27

    Yaadgar-e-Rafi Society will hold its annual programme Rafi nite on December 20 at Tagore Theatre. Mubarak Begum, a noted playback and ghazal singer, will be the chief guest of the nite. She will give away the awards to the winner of the contest held in July this year.

    She is popularly known by the songs like “Kabhi tanhainyon mein hamari yaad aeyegi”, “Mujhko apne gale laga lo ai mere hamrahi”, “Jab ishq kahin ho jata hai” and many more. She will also give performance in this function.

    Nearly 40 male and female singers from different states will sing melodious songs in the nite.

    Last year a popular playback singer Suman Kalyanpur was the chief guest.

  3. I am posting here another item on Mubarak Begum that has been featured on the following website:…/mubarak-begum-by-seetal-iyer.html

    Wednesday, August 29, 2007

    Mubarak Begum In Dire Straits by Seetal Iyer, Programme Director, Radio Farishta

    Yes Mubarak Begum is around. And no, she isn’t doing well. I know no one asked but it’s one of those moments in life when a question need not precede the answer.

    A dusty drive to Behram Baug in Jogeshwari took Mash and me to the one room tenement given to her by the government. It might have been prudent to stay downstairs in the taxi as suggested for her, but our enthusiasm saw us racing up a narrow paan-stained staircase to reach her door. “Ab idhar taka aa hi gayen hain to dekh lijiye.. yeh hai mera ghar.”

    Clearly, she’d rather have met us at a restaurant.

    Having shared a modest 470 sq feet Mumbai 1BHK place myself with 9 other people for 5 years, I was no stranger to the space constraints faced by Mumbaikars. But this was not a problem of space. This was a story of neglect and apathy, of one’s basic right to dignity.“Fans hain.. bahut saare hain.. par meri haalat to aise hi hai..Aise fans kis kaam ke?”

    True there’s a story like this in every neighbourhood, but not every neighbour with due respect to him or her, has been an instrument of joy to a nation of music lovers. This is the story of Mubarak Begum whose call for embrace in Mujhko apne gale laga lo aye mere hamrahi is remembered by everyone who knows something of film songs. Then again, going by what we saw, may be it isn’t remembered enough. And honestly, I am a bit tired of people trying to evaluate her contribution to Hindi cinema. Ustaad Bismillah Khan died in near penury too. So really.

    I won’t get into details of the series of unfortunate events that have contributed to her current state, because truth told, the details are not out the ordinary and even if they are, I am loathe to making this a juicy story that appeals to some base instinct.

    I will foist on you one detail though. A government stipend of 700 rupees every month which is sent once every 4 months isn’t exactly what would help you take care of a 40-year old daughter with Parkinson’s and keep the home fires burning. Not in Jhunjhunu where Mubarak Begum originally comes from. Certainly not in Mumbai where she now lives.

    We’ve all probably heard of some artiste or the other finding himself/herself penniless and destitute in old age. We’ve probably scanned the column centimeters of newsprint dedicated to such a “human interest” story and muttered our tsk tsks in-between cups of masala chai. Sure, we feel bad about such things. We’ve probably even dedicated a moment or two of family time to wonder what can be done to help such people. The answers are not easy, we’ve said to ourselves, sometimes blaming the person for their downfall (“must have squandered their wealth away”, “probably didn’t invest wisely” etc etc), sometimes placing the responsibility on the government but – and here’s the thing – always, always sweeping the topic eventually under that convenient but weary carpet.

    I know a few people who are exceptions, who’ve decided to do something, however small, and however solitary in effort. As for me – what I am going to do?

    I know I cannot write a moving enough piece to stir people into action. I can barely articulate my own feelings when I sat there and listened to her singing 3 whole paragraphs of her famous song, stealing glances now and then to see if anyone recognized her. I cannot begin to describe how incredibly sad I felt when I walked out of Kailash Parbat with her last question ringing in my ears. “Yeh kulfi jo abhi maine khaayi.. bahut mehngi hogi na?”

    So what am I going to do?

    I have a few options. I can say to myself “shit happens” and move on with my life. I can absolve myself of any responsibility. “Why am I paying the government taxes?”

    I can allow myself to get distracted by pointless self-doubt on my motives. “Nobility doesn’t become me.” I am as common as anyone can be. I am not particularly sentimental and can be brutally pragmatic about things. Shit happens.

    But I am no freeloader. I always pay up. I don’t believe in free lunches.

    One of my earliest memories is of my father teaching me to play one line of a hindi song he loved on the harmonium. Just one line. I had no clue then who the singer was. But I have now.

    “Kabhi tanhayion mein hamari yaad aayegi..”

    I owe someone for something they’ve done for me. And it really is as simple as that.

    – Seetal R Iyer, Programme Director, Radio Farishta

    “If you wish to join Radio Farishta in helping out Mubarak Begum in whatever small way, please write in to or

    Subhash Sampat

  4. As part of my ongoing campaign to get the Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi film industry and Mubarak Begum’s fans worldwide to send some financial help to Mubarak Begum and her ailing and bed-ridden daughter Shafaq Bano immediately here and now, I am posting another write-up by Bhawana Somaaya that has appeared on the following website:

    Remembering Mubarak Begum

    By Bhawana Somaaya • Mar 9th, 2009 • Filed under: Movies, Salaam Cinema, featured

    On the Women’s Day when every paper and channel in the country is singing paeans to the substantial women, I bring into focus three unusual subjects. A female singer long forgotten by the film fraternity.

    Mubarak Begum – Only a few years ago she had mesmerised an entire generation of music lovers with her immortal numbers like ‘Mujhko apne gale lagaa lo, o mere humrahi…’ from Humrahi. She is the same voice to give us the unforgettable‘Bemurrawwat bewafa begana dil…’ from Susheela.

    Yesteryear singer Mubarak Begum with a mellifluous voice and trademark style left an indelible mark on her audience, but today she lives in penury in a small by-lane of Mumbai’s Western suburbs.

    Though widely appreciated in the ’50s and the ’60s, Mubarak Begum was not a frontrunner in the Hindi mainstream movies because music composers felt that her voice did not suit the trend of formula films of that era. The rejection hurt Mubarak but gradually she came to terms with her destiny and with time, faded from public memory.

    Those close to her revealed that her personal life was layered with many tragedies. Deserted by her husband and with a non-existent bank balance she had no source of livelihood.

    Today almost 70, the veteran artiste lives her twilight years facing new hurdles every day. She is the sole caretaker of her only daughter Shafaq Banu, 40 and bedridden with advanced stage of Parkinson’s disease. There are no offers for playback singing and often she has no money to buy the required medicines or run her household expenditures.

    The songstress who in her better days mesmerised us with her robust numbers like ‘Kabhi tanhaiyon mein yun hamari yaad aayegi…’ today waits for somebody, somewhere to extend a hand of support.

    Over the years, there have been innumerable instances when veteran stars have withered away out of neglect and ill-treatment from their families. It makes one wonder what is it about these dream merchants that while they can entice a whole generation, they fail to draw empathy from their most dear ones. Could it be that these supremely-gifted people oppress those who love them and are therefore cursed to be rejected by the same people?

    It is said that music director O.P. Nayyar walked out from his palatial home in Churchgate over a trivial misunderstanding, twelve years ago. Nayyar promised his family that he would never return home again and he kept his word.

    For almost five years Nayyar lived in obscurity in Virar and other poor suburbs of Mumbai. He was seldom seen in the public eye and a time came when people stopped recognising him.

    It is only when he shifted to live with a fan (Bhagwat) in Thane that slowly neighbours became conscious of a star amidst them.

    There are interesting anecdotes about how OP regularly visited a retail shop and made his trunk calls from an adjoining phone booth. It was at this booth that he came across his future soul mate, Rani Nakhwa.

    O.P. Nayyar requested Rani to put an advertisement for him in the newspaper for a paying-guest accommodation. Rani obliged unaware that the distinguished stranger was a superstar of show business.

    At home, Rani divulged details of her encounter with the stranger to her mother. Her mother, an ardent fan of the maestro, recognised the genius and invited him over.

    The fabled Indian hospitality played a part and the guest who came for dinner stayed back to become a part of the family. Nayyar transformed into the Nakhwa family’s Babuji and the bond lasted till the very end.

    O.P. Nayyar had kept his word of not returning to his original home. And his family kept their word and did not pay him their last tribute. Nayyar’s last rites as per his will were performed by the Nakhwa family.

    Subhash Sampat

  5. mien hindi nahin janti lekin mien Mubarak begam ki gaiki ki bohut bari paristar hoon ..lekin ham Pakistani kis tarah unki madad ker sakte hiien . mera kalm daily express mien publishe hwa aor usi din usko facebook pe upload kardia .INDIAN GOVY. AOR INDIAN PRESIDENT se bhi appeal ki . pta nahin kisi ny notice lia ya nahin .THANKS . Prof.Raees Fatima ..columnist /fiction write from pakistan


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