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02 February 2012

An Unexpected (Shamshad) Bonanza

In the earlier post on Shamshad Begum, I mentioned that she had been awarded the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian honour in the Indian Republic, in 2009. That brought the singer, until then living in anonymity into the limelight once again. Soon after, she was shortlisted for the Dadasaheb Phalke Academy Award (the Dadasaheb Phalke Award itself is the highest honour in cinema given annually by the Government of India for lifetime contribution to Indian cinema). This was also a case of too little, too late, but the ever-gracious veteran took it in stride. She made one of her rare public appearances at the venue (Bhaidas Hall, Bombay), and accepted the Dadasaheb Phalke Golden Singer Award with her trademark humility. I suppose one should be happy that the audience greeted her with a standing ovation!

While searching for information, any information, about this elusive nonagenarian, I came across a very warm article by Manohar Iyer where he talked about meeting her personally. I was so touched by the first-person account that I left a comment. It proved to be a bonus for me because I was contacted by the gentleman, on whose blog Manohar had posted the article, asking if I would be interested in photos of Shamshad Begum at the award ceremony. Would I?! I got in touch with him at once, and he very graciously sent me these photographs, and also gave me permission to post them on my blog.

So here she is, alive and well - Shamshad Begum - courtesy Mr Qamaal Mustafa Sikander, who had the good fortune to be present at the venue, and who took these photographs.

With deep gratitude for his generosity in sharing them with us… thank you, Mr Sikander.
shamshad-begum daughter ushaji

Today (16th February 2011), I came across another photograph of the veteran singer on Rediff.com. The 11th Gr8! Women Awards were held on the 15th of February at Andheri, Bombay. And guess who was recognised for her contribution to music? I cannot help be cynical about the whole ‘award’ business, but hey, it is good to know that Shamshad Begum is alive and well, though slight and frail, as of today.
Shamshad Begum February 2012


  1. Wow! Those photos are SO lovely. Good to see Shamshad Begum alive and well and smiling. :-) Thank you, Anu, and thank you, Mr Sikander, for sharing these. 

  2. I know! This was a lucky find. I'm glad Mr Sikander sent the snaps along. She looks quite cute. :)

  3. It does the heart good, to hear that she is being honoured for the great body of work, which she has contributed to the Indian film industry. AND it is good to see her alive.
    Thank you for sharing these fotos with us, dear Anu! Thank you, Mr. Sikander for the fotos!

  4. I agree with you. isn't it a shame that they neglected her for so long? It's so nice to see her all smiling....

  5. I have been meaning to put in my comments on your Shamshad Begum piece but was unable to do so, finally I went through your posts and was glad to see that in part 1 of your Shamshad Begum post you have mentioned my favourite old time singer Rajkumari. This singer is also one of those unsung singers - if that sounds silly, unsung singers I mean, I do not know how to put it. When I first heard her I was bowled over by her sweet voice, her most famous song is the one from Mahal Ghabra ke

    and much later perhaps sometime in the eighties I think when Noor Jehan visited India she gave a live performance and she sounded even sweeter. She was quite old then. Here is the video from that live performance


  6. Shilpi, I know exactly what you mean about 'unsung' singers. It's a shame that it is so. I love Rajkumari's voice myself, as I do Zohrambai Ambalewali's and Ameerbai Karnataki's.  Thank you so much for that video of Rajkumari's from the Noor Jehan concert - she still sounded so good.


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