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TALAT_MAHMOOD

For those who continue to be enamoured of the velvet-like voice of the late Talat Mahmood, here is an article from Mr Raj Kanwar, an India-based author, freelance journalist and music lover.

His ‘quivering’ voice still a rage

One of Talat Mahmood’s most unforgettable songs is “Meri yaad mein tum na aansoo bahana,” rendered way back in 1951. Over the following two decades, Talat sang one hit ghazal after another and continued to cast a spell on legions of ghazal aficionados both in India and abroad.

Today 64 years later, the musicality and lyricism of these ghazals still haunt generations of his loyal fans.

However, it was not all hunky dory for Talat Mahmood as he had to compete with the likes of Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh and Manna Dey.

It is, therefore, creditable that Talat was able to hold his own and remain the first choice for…

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TALAT_MAHMOOD

For those who continue to be enamoured of the velvet-like voice of the late Talat Mahmood, here is an article from Mr Raj Kanwar, an India-based author, freelance journalist and music lover.

His ‘quivering’ voice still a rage

One of Talat Mahmood’s most unforgettable songs is “Meri yaad mein tum na aansoo bahana,” rendered way back in 1951. Over the following two decades, Talat sang one hit ghazal after another and continued to cast a spell on legions of ghazal aficionados both in India and abroad.

Today 64 years later, the musicality and lyricism of these ghazals still haunt generations of his loyal fans.

However, it was not all hunky dory for Talat Mahmood as he had to compete with the likes of Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh and Manna Dey.

It is, therefore, creditable that Talat was able to hold his own and remain the first choice for composers and lyricists alike when it came to singing ghazals for films.

Like many of his contemporaries, Talat too had his share of good luck. It took him little time in early the 1940s to establish himself as a ghazal singer of no mean merit in his hometown, Lucknow, with All India Radio becoming his launch pad. His first disc by HMV in 1941, “Sab Din Ek Samaan Nahin The” was hailed as a success. However, it was his next, “Tasveer Teri Dil Mera Behela Na Sakegi…” written by Faiyyaz Hashmi that turned out to be a chartbuster and brought him much accolade and national fame. Talat was just 16 then.
Talat Mahmood’s ghazals still find takers 17 years after his death. His death anniversary falls on May 9.

Calcutta – then the hub of both Hindi and Bengali movies – was his next destination. Taking on the pseudonym Tapan Kumar, Talat recorded numerous hit songs in Bengali. With his good looks, Talat also starred in three successful Bengali movies.

Bombay, however, was not so easy for Talat. He met one music director after another but they disapproved of the ‘quivering note’ or ‘kampan’ that characterised his voice. Though disappointed, Talat continued his rounds of music composers. His perseverance eventually paid off when he found an admiring mentor in the doyen Anil Biswas. Ironically, the very ‘kampan’ that other music directors had considered a flaw, fascinated Biswas no end. He had by then completed the music of ‘Arzoo.’ But so taken in was Biswas by that trademark quiver that he persuaded the director to add another song to the movie. The song was “Ae Dil Mujhe Aisi Jagha Le Chal Jahan Koi Na Ho…,” written by Majrooh Sultanpuri and picturised on Dilip Kumar. It became an instant rage.

Fortuitously, the Bombay film industry had by then become the Mecca for lyricists and poets such as Sahir Ludhyanvi, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Hasrat Jaipuri, Shakeel Badayuni, Mehdi Ali Khan, Kaifi Azmi and D.N. Madhok.

Their lyrics struck a chord with the listener and brought tears to his eyes when rendered in impeccable Urdu diction by Talat. No wonder then that some of these poets wrote lyrics specifically for Talat. Such was the magic of this Lucknow boy! And Khayyam always reserved a special place for Talat in his heart.

In a way, Talat’s first song “Ae Dil Mujhe..” in 1949, became the harbinger of the ghazal craze in the country, and Talat became the heart-throb of ghazal lovers.

Songs such as “Shaam e gham ki qasam..” (Footpath 1953), “Jayen to jayen kahan…” (Taxi Driver 1954), “Main dil hoon ek armaan bhara..” (Anhonee 1952), “Hain sabse madhur woh geet..” (Patita 1953), “Itna na mujhse tu pyar badha..” and “Aansoo samajh ke..” (Chhaya 1961) are timeless. These and many more such classics are still in demand, 17 years after his death, at music functions and soirees.

What further lent a sense of poignancy to many of Talat’s songs was their sensitive picturisations. “Jalte hain jiske liye..” (Sujata 1959), written by Majrooh Sultanpuri and set to music by S.D. Burman, is one such example. The song, picturised on Sunil Dutt and Nutan, was so tenderly done that it tugged at the heartstrings of those who watched the movie then.

Talat Mahmood sang 747 songs in 12 Indian languages and starred in 13 films thus becoming Hindi cinema’s biggest singing star next only to Kishore Kumar.

He also had the distinction of having sung duets with all the top female playback singers of his time. Not many will recalls easily but he sang with Shamshad Begum too, their duet “Milte hin aankhein dul dua” was a raging hit then.

Incidentally, he was the first Indian singer to have performed abroad when he visited East Africa in 1956. After that he toured several countries such as the U.S. and the U.K. His last tour abroad was to the Netherlands in 1991.

The ‘king of ghazal’ died on May 9, 1998.

Notes:

  1. The writer Mr Raj Kanwar can be reached at rkanwar_in@yahoo.co.uk.
  2. This article of his appeared in The Hindu of the 15th of May, 2015. Here is the link: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-fridayreview/his-quivering-voice-still-a-rage/article7207045.ece.
  3. Permission from the author to re-publish it here is gratefully acknowledged.

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