Shamshad Begum’s songs by OP Nayyar

April 14, 2016

A tribute to Shamshad Begum (14 April 1919 – 23 April 2013) on her 97th birth anniversary

OP Nayyar and Shamshad BegumWhen I did two back-to-back posts on Shamshad Begum’s songs by Naushad and C Ramchandra last year there was inevitably a reference to OP Nayyar as he is the third member of the trinity which made the greatest contribution to her. In fact the discussion on C Ramchandra-Shamshad Begum post was wholly dominated by OP Nayyar. The three-way conversation between Ravindra Kelkar, Hans and Arunji was very enlightening on statistics, some popular anecdotes about them and analysis and inferences. While there was general agreement with my observation that Naushad gave the best songs for her, our OPN-expert Ravindra Kelkar felt that OPN’s best ten would be as good if not better than Naushad’s or CR’s. With so much of OPN readily available with me courtesy these three readers, I felt it necessary to write a post on his best songs for Shamshad Begum to complete the picture. As for the comparison, it goes without saying that it is impossible to rank between three sets of outstanding songs. It is largely a matter of personal preference. But suffice it to say that OPN gave some immortal songs for Shamshad Begum. OPN also has the credit for composing her last memorable song Kajra mohbbatwala, a duet with Asha Bhosle from Kismat (1968) – a song which spawned numerous remix versions, bringing Shamshad Begum again in focus among the music lovers.

To put the statistics in perspective, while Naushad and C Ramchandra composed about 60 songs for Shamshad Begum, OPN accounts for 35 songs (including 21 duets and 14 solos). As for her relative position, OPN gave 324 songs for Asha Bhosle and 62 songs for Geeta Dutt (contrast it with Naushad’s 160+songs for Lata Mangeshkar to 60+ songs for Shamshad Begum). Thus, she has sung the second highest number of songs accounting for about 38% of the leading singer Lata Mangeshkar in case of Naushad, whereas with OPN she is in the third position accounting for 11% of the leading singer Asha Bhosle. These would have been meaningless numbers but for the fact that they help to clear some cobwebs created by some popularly accepted anecdotes.

One such is that just as Naushad and CR used Shamshad Begum as a stepping stone from vintage era singers to Lata Mangeshkar, OP Nayyar, too, used and discarded her in favour of Geeta Dutt and, later, Asha Bhosle. As Ravindra Kelkar has explained so lucidly, she was not a major singer for OPN as she was for Naushad or CR for sometime before they fell for Lata Mangeshkar big time. She was the main singer for OPN only in Mehbooba (1954), CID and Naya Andaaz (1956), but all this while both Asha Bhosle and Geeta Dutt were singing far more songs for him. Therefore, I would agree with Ravindra Kelkar that it is not fair to charge OPN with use and throw in case of Shamshad Begum. However, this does not prove or disprove the narrative of her standing by him when he was facing boycott by some industry bigwigs for replacing Roshan in Mehbooba (1954). At best we can say, and mind you we are all speculating based on what we have read, that he could have done more for her for her support in difficult times.

In passing, one can say that there is a stronger evidence of OPN having discarded Geeta Dutt for Asha Bhosle. Being impressed by him in his debut movie Aasmaan (1952) in which she was the main singer, Geeta Dutt introduced him to her husband Guru Dutt. Thus he got to score for Baaz (1953). Though the film flopped, it was followed by three grand successes Aar Paar (1954), Mr and Mrs 55 (1955) and CID (1956). Geeta Dutt had greater reasons for feeling discarded. In the film world, such stories generally do not have a happy ending. When Asha Bhosle, too, finally walked out on OP Nayyar from his life and music, it spelt doom for him personally and professionally. He spent the last years of his life shorn of all wealth and glamour, estranged from his family, with an unknown music-loving family as a paying guest/ adopted family member.

Before I present my selection of songs, I must clarify that it would be wrong to assume that the trinity of Naushad-CR-OPN covers most of Shamshad Begum. She had at least five clear years of successful career before any one of them first used her. Besides them, another trinity is no less important for her. We can call them 3Gs – Ghulam Haider, Govind Ram and Ghulam Mohammad. There are some more like Husnlal-Bhagatram (and Amarnath), Bulo C Rani and Gyan Dutt. Since I am not the only fan of Shamshad Begum, hopefully we will see more of her in due course.

1. Kabhi aar kabhi paar laga teer-e-nazar from Aar Paar (1954), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

This song is fresh even after 62 years. This shows the timeless appeal of Shamshad Begum. OPN’s music was rightly considered far ahead of his times. The eye-candy Kumkum in her first screen appearance would make you think construction sites abound in such gorgeous beauties.

2. Ab to ji hone laga kisi ki soorat ka saamna from Mr & Mrs 55 (1955), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

Guru Dutt followed up Aar Paar with another blockbuster next year. This too was a breezy comedy for which OPN’s music was eminently suited. Geeta Dutt was the lead singer, but even with this one solo Shamshad Begum leaves a lasting imprint. Guru Dutt had some fascination for making songs on minor characters who are watched by the lead actors.

3. Boojh mera kya naanv (naam) re from CID (1956), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

Shamshad Begum-OPN now light up the screen with a village belle song picturised on Minoo Mumtaz. Dev Anand and Shakeela, passing by in a car, are watching the scene.

4. Kahin pe nigahein kahin pe nishana from CID (1956), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

Here is another all-time great song from the same movie, now picturised on the debutant Waheeda Rahman in a vamp’s role. She is trying to distract the attention of the sleuth with her singing and dancing, and giving a warning to the hiding hero to flee.

5. Bach ke balam kahan jaaoge from Naya Andaaz (1956), lyrics Jan Nisar Akhtar

We have so far seen songs picturised on side actors. Now we come to a less heard song, but picturised on the leading lady Meena Kumari as a stage-dance song, being watched in wide-eyed admiration by Kishore Kumar and Johnny Walker among the audience. There is another nice song on her in the film, Raat rangili gaye re, in which she dances by herself in her bedroom. This was the period when Kishore Kumar acted with almost all the major heroines in several films.

6. Mohabbat se tujhe inkaar… Tu laage mora baalma from Shrimati 420 (1956), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

Only audio of this song is available. But the slow recital followed by dancing steps indicate that it is a mujra song.

We have seen Shamshad Begum’s duets far outnumber her solos with OP Nayyar. With her powerful, clear and distinct voice, often her voice lingers in the memory in the duets. Let me now present her four evergreen duets.

7. Meri neendon mein tum (with Kishore Kumar) from Naya Andaaz (1956), lyrics Jan Nisar Akhtar

OPN-Kishore Kumar-Shamshad Begum, all the three are known more fun peppy fun songs. Here you have a soulful, romantic duet with Kishore Kumar on the piano. They seem to be rehearsing for some show.

8. Chanazor babu garram main laya (with Kishore Kumar) from Naya Zamana (1956), lyrics Jan Nisar Akhtar

Kishore Kumar did not earn his name for sitting sedately at the piano. I just can’t resist posting this wild duet from the same movie. Now Kishore Kumar is in full flow as a peanut seller with Meena Kumari a perfect foil as chanazor (spicy roasted black gram) seller in this stage song. They switch to selling hot jalebis and gaderiyan. The song ends with Meena Kumari lip-synching Shamshad Begum asking KK, Sainya raja la de gale ka mohe haar re. A superb example of Punjab school of song and dance full of life. In parts the video is of poor quality, but that does not take away from the charm of the song.

9.  Reshmi salwar kurta jaali ka (with Asha Bhosle) from Naya Daur (1957), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanavi

This BR film with socialistic message of man versus machine is known for OP Nayyar’s path-breaking music. This film fetched him the coveted Filmfare Award for best music. It unleashed Asha Bhosle as a major force in competition with her older sibling. OPN creates this cult bhangra style song-dance which came to be imitated by many music directors.

10. Kajra mohabbatwala (with Asha Bhosle) from Kismet (1968), lyrics SH Bihari

I end with what else but their swan song which has earned everlasting fame. In the film, the lead actors Biswajit and Babita perform this stage dance-song cross-dressed to conceal themselves from the villains in hot pursuit.

This song has innumerable remixes. Here is Kangna Ranaut’s uninhibited dancing to this song at the Sangeet function in Tanu Weds Manu.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ashok M Vaishnav April 14, 2016 at 9:59 am

Quite unlike SoY, the post has done simultaneous justice to merit and popularity to both Shamshad Begum and OPN.

2 N.S.Rajan April 14, 2016 at 10:11 am

As one has by now come to expect, an interesting perspective and excellent picks. As for other composers who also made hits using Shamshad’s voice, a relatively young S.D.Burman, aged 43 and only three years into the Bollywood music scene, scored a super hit with his compositions for “Shabnam” in 1949, all going on the comely Kamini Kaushal.

3 Dinesh K Jain April 14, 2016 at 10:36 am

I am glad we are now in a more familiar territory; the list of 10 has only 2 songs that I did not know before, at s.nos. 5 & 6.

Else, I agree with the songs selection. What came as a big surprise was that Shamshad sang only 35 songs for OPN. Somehow I shared the general impression that she may have sung far more songs for him.

On the whole, another interesting and revealing episode; thank you, AK.

4 D P Rangan April 14, 2016 at 11:11 am

Nice post. Salute your industriousness in turning post after post with a regularity. Seem to have taken this as a full time activity, relegating whatever job you are in now to second place. I can equate you with the novelist Edgar Wallace who was a prolific writer.

I do not know how you missed this nice duet of Rafi and Shamshad from the film Choomantar (1956).

5 D P Rangan April 14, 2016 at 11:19 am

Forgot to add one more Shamshad solo from Choomantar

Gori gori raat hai

6 N Venkataraman April 14, 2016 at 1:58 pm

A combined tribute to two of the illustrious musicians from the Punjab on the occasion of Vaisakhi was most appropriate. Thanks for the interesting and nice post. My tributes too to Shamshad Begum on her 97th Birth Anniversary.
I will go with your wonderful selection, 6 solos and the four duets. The song Mohabbat se tujhe inkaar was new to me. Shamsads’s songs for O P Nayyar will have an everlasting charm. Her rendition was full of dramatic expressions and effect. I will add one more.

Yun hi baaten na bana tu , film Qaidi (1957), lyrics Jan Nissar Akhtar

The duet posted by Ranganji is also a good one. Leke pehla pehla pyar is another of her great songs (duet with Rafi) for OPN.
Shamshad Begum offered her songs in many moods and we still continue to enjoy them long after she departed from the musical showground.
Let me take this opportunity to wish all the SoY reader/listeners Puthandu Vazhthukkal, Happy Vishu / Bihu, Poila Baisakh and Vaisakhi.

7 arvindersharma April 14, 2016 at 3:06 pm

AK Ji,
A lovely and a very appropriate post by you as a fitting tribute to the great Shamshad Begum, and along with the rhythm King OP Naiyyar, whom you have clubbed her with, some of the most wonderful and everlasting songs were composed, which even the later generations of music lovers have enjoyed.
Here’s a duet of her’s with Rafi from Musafirkhana, though a duet technically, but it’s the Begum all the way.

Now coming to the point of the MD’s who were very prominently associated with Shamshad Begum.
You have named most of them, but I would like to add Hansraj Behl to the list.
77 Hindi songs (solos and duets), and 50 songs from Punjabi films make sure that he was a major part of her career at all times, during her glorious days, and at the time when Hindi MD’s had abandoned her. And the noticeable factor is that Hansraj Behl himself was never amongst the frontrunner composers at anytime during his career.
His songs with Shamshad are more than twenty percent of Naushad and CR, and more than double of OP in numbers. And the Punjabi songs, which became a rage with the listeners are apart from them.
I recall Hans Ji having earlier explained how she was lapped up by the Punjabi film industry, and was a mainstay there, as well as MDs like Hansraj Behl, Sardool Kwatra and S Mohinder. This arrangement benefitted all as some of the best songs in Punjabi were composed by them all.
Bhatia Ji has also given some fine examples of Shamshad Begum’s Punjabi songs from time to time, which are all favorites.
Will be back with some of more OP Shamshad numbers, which are favorites.

8 AK April 14, 2016 at 3:46 pm

Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

Mr NS Rajan,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. Incidentally, I have already written a post on Shamshad Begum’s songs by SD Burman under the title East meets West.

9 AK April 14, 2016 at 3:53 pm

I am happy that you could relate to this post. I am grateful that you also engage when the songs are not exactly your great favourites.

DP Rangan,
Humne jab dil tha diya is a wonderful duet. Thanks for adding it. However, Gori gori raat hai seems to be sung by Geeta Dutt.

Yun hi baatein na bana tu is a wonderful song. Thanks for adding it. This could have easily replaced song #5 or 6 in my list.

10 AK April 14, 2016 at 3:58 pm

Arvinder Sharmaji,
Frankly, I was not aware of such a large presence of Hansraj Bahal in Shamshad Begum’s songs. That gives an entirely new perspective to comparison. This means that he composed the largest number of songs for her? In that case, he seems to have relatively fewer number of her memorable songs.

11 Anu Warrier April 14, 2016 at 5:16 pm

I’ll agree that OP did not ‘use and throw’ Shamshad, but in one of his later interviews, he expressed his regret at having sidelined her completely when he was in the Asha phase, because he said, Shamshad had agreed to sing for him when he was a relative newcomer, and had encouraged him immensely. He was very sorry about the way he had treated both her and Geeta. He confessed that Shamshad was so gracious that she never once complained about his defection.

Will get back to the songs later, AK. In the middle of a dreadful deadline.

12 P. S. Seshadri April 14, 2016 at 5:54 pm

A great pick!! One and only one Shamshad!! Hats off to her.

13 AK April 14, 2016 at 8:04 pm

I would wait for your return.

14 AK April 14, 2016 at 8:05 pm

PS Seshadri,
Thanks a lot.

15 KB April 14, 2016 at 8:55 pm

A singer of the caliber of SB was generally under utilised in the industry. OP was one of the composers who used her talent in films such as CID, Musafirkhana , AarPaar and upto Kismat. Similarly CR,SD also used her talents well. However,it is sad that for whatever reason ,her full versatility was never exploited in the HFM.

16 ksbhatia April 15, 2016 at 12:32 am

AK ji ;
Nice cross section of songs that made OPN a cult figure of rhythm beats . He was truly an equal opp. employer for all the three female singers and made them popular at different point of times ; be it solo or duets . During late 50s he was most popular MD and almost occupied most of the Binaca Geet Mala slots and topping the hit parade charts as well . At that time SJ were the other MDs who were doing great balancing act to remain in the major league utilising Rafi , Mukesh , Lata, Asha’s beautiful singing abilities .

Arvinder sharma ji has given good reasons and inputs of Shamshad Begam as to quality of her songs in Punjabi movies of 50s and 60s . Truly Hansraj Behl , S . Mohinder , Sardool Kwatra were ruling the punjabi movie scene and were giving a number of hits with Shamshad ruling the playback singing for most of the heroines of that time [ Nishi , Billo , Jabeen etc.]

Arvinder ji ….the duet song of Rafi and Shamshad……jara sa dil laga ke dekh…. is my fav. as well . I think we discussed this song in one of the mini post in Open house also .

Here is one more duet from Howrah Bridge , another hit parade of OPN songs .

…….Main jaan gayi tujhe saiyan……

17 AK April 15, 2016 at 6:08 am

KS Bhatiaji,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. But was he an equal opportunity employer to the three female siingers? Asha bhosle was million times more equal than others for him.

18 ksbhatia April 15, 2016 at 2:09 pm

AK ji ;
Equal opportunity in the sense that OPN reserved Geeta dutt and Asha for giving playback to heroin oriented songs and used Shamshad ‘s playback for side heroins and duets as well . You rightly observed ….it was the Wave that was prevalent at the later period of time [ and her association with OPN ] that carried Asha to the peak of her career that made her many times more than equal of Geeta and others . As a measure of quality, for me Asha’s RDB songs are no way near Asha’s OPN songs .

19 Shalan Lal April 15, 2016 at 4:52 pm

I am glad that a three part tribute has been paid to Veteran singer Samshad Beghum by AK. I enjoy her voice since she came in Hindi films with Khajanchi in 1941. her career did not get much shining during the brief rise of Nurjehan. But she survived and gave a remarkable voice to SoY. Her songs in Mela are heart rendering.

Shalan Lal

20 SSW April 16, 2016 at 8:56 am

Nice to see another post on Shamshad. You’ve mentioned Mehbooba , I like this song and somehow I seem to hear other songs in it. Shamshad really shines when she launches into the upper register.

Funnily the little accordion riff reminds me of the accordion in this Salilda song. This song is in O P’s favourite 2/4 rhythm but of course is very different from an OP composition in its harmonies.

This duet with Shamshad and Rafi and all the dialogues before the song is quite nice.

21 Anu Warrier April 16, 2016 at 7:21 pm

Now that I have some time to breathe. 🙂 It appears that Shamshad’s songs by OP have been covered by your expansive post, and in the numerous comments.

From my cursory look through the comments, I see that this song has not been mentioned: Guru Dutt- Waheeda – Johnny Walker starrer 12 o’Clock. Saiyyan teri ankhiyon mein dil kho gaya

Ruk jaa re piya from Sabse Bada Rupaiya

A Shamshad with Asha duet for Dhaake ki Malmal

22 AK April 16, 2016 at 10:28 pm

The duet Thoda sa dil laga ke dekh is an excellent song. Thanks.

Tum tana dere na dere na – Shamshad Begum is terrific. OP Nyyar has definitely underused her. Thanks for adding this song.

23 mumbaikar8 April 24, 2016 at 10:18 am

With quality of songs Shamshad Begum had with OP एक post to बनता है.
As per Venkataramanji it came at an appropriate time.
However I have a doubt, is it possible that Shamshad Begum OP best 10 songs list can be complete without Shamshad Begum Rafi duet?
Unless it is deliberate to create controversy:(
D P Rangan, Venkataramanji, arvindersharmaji, ksbhatiaji, and SSW, all of them have added Shamshad Begum Rafi songs
I am adding a triad from Do Ustad Shamshad Begum with Rafi and Asha
Shamshad Begum as usual singing for the minor character and Asha for Madhubala and Rafi accompanying both Shamshad Begum for minor character and Asha for Raj Kapoor.
I am not sure, I feel it just because I am a devoted fan of Rafi or it is real.. The way he sings for Raj Kapoor and for the minor character is absolutely different.
Do Ustaad Hum Pe Dil Aaya to Kya Karonge

24 AK April 24, 2016 at 2:44 pm

The best Rafi-Shamshad Begum duet is Le ke pahla pahla pyar. I didn’t include it. But why should you see conspiracy in this?

The Do Ustad song is very nice. It has figured earlier in the comments.

25 N Venkataraman April 24, 2016 at 6:36 pm

AKji & Mumbaikarji,
Another Rafi-Shamshad duet from Shrimat 420 (1956). The song, Hey bhagwan starts after 1:42

26 mumbaikar8 April 24, 2016 at 9:05 pm

Exactly that is what I meant how one can miss Shamshad Begum’s Leke pahla pahla pyaar unless…..
I did Ctrl f, could not find the Do Ustaad song.

Thanks for adding yet another Shamshad Rafi song

27 ksbhatia April 25, 2016 at 1:17 pm

AK ji ;
Here are a few of gems that were famous when O P Nayyar was at the peak of his career ; of course ably supported by the trio of singers Asha, Geeta and Shamshad. The varsities of solos and duets with Rafi and Kishore were listeners delight …..just one was required to wear their dancing shoes to match the OPN rhythm or a table top near by was sufficient to make your head sway to the beats of dholak by hand on the table.

1. Tu aaja re……Rafi, Kishore, Shamshad

2. Main main main qartoon…..Asha, Shamshad, Rafi….Mr . Qartoon M A

3. Tumhi se pyar……Shamshad, Kishore….Naya Andaz

4. Jhoote zamne bharke……Shamshad, Rafi…..Musafirkhana
… starts at 3:00

5. Mohabat dil ke bas…….Talat, Shamshad……Mangu

6. Aji bas shukriya…..Shamshad…..Qaidi….

7. Zara pyar kar le…..Shamshad…..Mangu …….

28 ksbhatia April 25, 2016 at 2:04 pm

……in continuation…..

8. Taraste hain tadpte hain…..Kishore, Shamshad…..Cham chama cham

9. Banka woh sanam…….Shamshad…..Mehbooba…..

10. Yeh duniya hai bazar…..Asha , Kishore, Shamshad…..Cham chama cham …..[ poor audio quality but good to listen ]

29 AK April 25, 2016 at 5:24 pm

KS Bhatiaji,
Thanks a lot for these additions. I believe at this rate we will have all songs of OPN-Shamshad Begum on SoY.

30 arvindersharma April 25, 2016 at 6:17 pm

KS Bhatia Ji,
Lovely additions of Shamshad/OP songs by you Sir, and most of them are lesser heard, perfect to make a playlist of some rare gems of Shamshad for OP Naiyyar.
However, i wish to make one correction
Song no 4 in your list, Jhoothe zamane bhar ke has been sung by Nirmala Devi, actor Govinda’s mother, along with Rafi

31 ksbhatia April 25, 2016 at 11:51 pm

Arvinder Sharma ji ;
Many thanks for the correction . Till date I was looking to the song as Rafi, Shamshad duet song . What a close call ! Your’s third empire decision is welcomed. I am wondering wheather more songs of Nirmala Devi are available on YT . One thing for sure…… She is to Shamshad … Suman Kalyanpur to Lata Mangeshkar .

32 N Venkataraman April 26, 2016 at 10:43 pm

Mumbaiukarji and Bhatia ji, Akji,

Here is another Rafi-Shamshad duet
Koi Jab Dard Ka Mara Kahin Aansoo, film Miss Coca Cola (1955), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

I think we have not yet exhausted all her songs she sung for O P Nayyar.

33 Sunil July 27, 2017 at 5:30 pm

Can someone help me find a Rare Shanahan Begum song in a movie, in which the heroine trying to escape bunch of thugs, distracts them by suggesting she will make a meal for them, Banu Begum sings this playful song in multiple Indian languages . It is no longer on YouTube. I don’t remember the movie nor the title of the song!

34 AK July 27, 2017 at 10:54 pm

I think you are looking for this song from Nishan (1949)
Jaiyo jaiyo sipahiya bazaar daal meri chulhe chadhi by Shamshad Begum from Nishan (1949), music Rajeshwar Rao

35 G Narayana Murty October 7, 2017 at 2:26 pm

Great tribute to OP Nayyar sahab and Shamshad Begam jee. I think OPN-SB combination has 39 songs. Some more information for all OPN fans:

36 AK October 7, 2017 at 11:33 pm

G Narayan Murty,
Welcome to SoY and thanks a lot for your appreciation.

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