Award Name : Padma Bhushan
Year of Award : 2009
Award for : Arts
Location : Amritsar, Punjab, India
Shamshad Begum was an Indian singer who was one of the first playback singers in the Hindi film industry. She was born on 14 April 1919 in Amritsar, British India. Her voice was crystal clear like temple bell according to music director O.P. Nayyar. She was a premier singer in 50s and 60s. Her songs from 50's and 60s are still enthralling her fans. Shamshad was one of the two female singers who were survived strongly after the entry of the veteran singer Lata Mangeshkar. Shamshad started her singing career by singing for Peshawar Radio. Later she also started working for Lahore Radio in 1937. She was part of a musical group 'The Crown Imperial Theatrical Company of Performing Arts', which was formed in Delhi. Along with this group she performed in stage shows and also for All India Radio (AIR). Her radio work helped her to enter into the film industry. AIR Lahore used to broadcast her songs repeatedly, which caught music directors attention and forced them to use her voice in films.
She also had recorded devotional songs and naats for some gramophone companies. The Sarangi master Ustad Hussain Bakshwale Saheb get very much impressed by her voice and made her his disciple. In her early career, music composer Ghulam Haider used her voice in films like Khazanchi (1941) and Khandaan (1942). In 1944, she moved to Mumbai along with composer Ghulam Haider as a part of his team. Shamshad lent her voice for Ghulam Haider in director Mehboob Khan's historical venture Humayun in 1944. At that time another singer Amirbai Karnatki was the topmost female singer in Industry. But with the entry of Shamshad Begum the scene changed. Many music directors were rushing to sign her for their films. She was the lead singer for music directors like O.P.Nayyar, C. Ramchandra and S. D. Burman. She ruled the Indian Film Industry in 1940s to 50s. She was amongst the one who recorded the first Westernized songs for industry like 'Meri Jaan. Sunday Ke Sunday', which was composed by C. Ramchandra. Shamshad was most favorite amongst composers like O.P. Nayyar and Naushad Ali. Along with Naushad and Nayyar she had also lent her voice for music directors like Ram Ganguly and Khemchand Prakash. Her hits along with Naushad Ali includes 'Teri Mehfil Main Kismat Azma kar Hum Bhi Dekhange' from Mughal-E-Azam, 'Holi Aayi Re Kanhai' from Mother India, 'O Lagi Lagi' from Aaan, 'Chhau Main Rakha Virana' from Deedar, 'Dhadkar Mera Dil' from Babul and many more. In 2009, she was conferred with the prestigious O. P. Nayyar award for her contribution to Hindi film music. She was also conferred the Padma Bhushan in 2009.