Monday, February 22, 2010

Mayray Hum-nafas Mayray Hum-nawaa - From Vineeta Sastry

Vineeta I met a decade ago. I was surprised to hear her sing with her sister, Hindustani Khayals, for a Telugu it was way out of territory! Not only is she one of the best singers I have ever heard but she is someone with a wide range of interests, awareness, people skills, all with a sense of sweetness and femininity that's usually missing in most other 'smart' women of her kind. I am very proud to have her as my 'maradalu', sister-in-law.

Begum Akhtar

Farida Khannum

Poet:Shakeel Badayuni
Singer:Begum Akhtar,Farida Khanum

Mere Humnafas, Mere Humnawa,
Mujhe Dost Ban Ke Daga Na De
Main Hoon Dard-e-Ishq Se Jaan-Valab,
Mujhe Zindagi Ki Dua Na De

Mere Daagh-e-Dil Se Hai Roshni,
Isi Roshni Se Hai Zindagi
Mujhe Darr Hai Ae Mere Chaaragar,
Yeh Chiraag Tu Hi Bujha Na De

Mujhe Ae Chhod De Mere Haal Par,
Tera Kya Bharosa Hai Chaaragar
Yeh Teri Nawazish-e-Mukhtasar,
Mera Dard Aur Badha Na De

Mera Azm Itna Buland Hai
Ke Paraaye Sholo-n Ka Darr Nahin
Mujhe Khauf Aatish-e-Gul Se Hai,
Yeh Kahin Chaman Ko Jala Na De

Woh Uthein Hain Leke Hom-o-Subu,
Arrey O 'Shakeel' Kahan Hain Tu
Tera Jaam Lene Ko Bazm Mein
Koi Aur Haath Badha Na De!

Shakeel Badayuni
(August 3, 1916 – April 20, 1970) was an accomplished Urdu poet, lyricist and songwriter.
Shakeel Badayuni was born in Badayun, Uttar Pradesh. His father, Mohammed Jamaal Ahmed Sokhta Qadiri wanted him to have a good career, thus he arranged Arabic, Urdu, Persian, and Hindi tuition for Shakeel at home. His inclination towards poetry was not hereditary like other shayars. One of his distant relatives, Zia-ul-Qadiri Badayuni was a religious shayar. Shakeel was influenced by him and the contemporary environment of Badayun led him to Sher-o-Shayari.

When he joined Aligarh Muslim University in 1936, he started participating in inter-college, inter-university mushairas and won frequently. In 1940, he married Salma, who was a distant relative of his and they had been living in a common house since childhood, however, the purdah system was vogue in their family and they were not close. After completing his B.A., he moved to Delhi as a supply officer, but continued participating in mushairas, earning fame nation-wide. Those were the days of shayars who wrote about the downtrodden sections of society, their upliftment, the betterment of society and all. But Shakeel had an altogether different taste - his poetry was more often not romantic and close to heart. Shakeel used to say:

Main Shakeel Dil Ka Hoon Tarjuma
Keh Mohabbaton Ka Hoon Raazdaan
Mujhe Fakhr Hai Meri Shayari

Shakeel moved to Bombay in 1944 to write songs for films. He met film producer, A.R. Kardar and music composer, Naushad who asked him to sum up his poetic skills in one line. Shakeel wrote, Hum dard Ka Afsana Duniya Ko Suna Denge, Har Dil Main Mohabbat Ki Ek aag Laga Daingay. Naushad immediately signed him for Kardar's film, Dard (1947). The songs of Dard proved to be very successful especially Uma Devi (Tun Tun)'s Afsana Likh Rahi Hoon. Only a few are so lucky that they attain success in their first film, but Shakeel deserved success which started with Dard and continued on over the years.

Together, he and Naushad became one of the most sought after composer/lyricist duos in the industry. Among the stupendous scores they churned out together, are those of Baiju Bawra (1952), Mother India (1957), and Mughal-e-Azam (1960), that stand out. Other films they scored together include Dulari (1949), Shabab (1954), Ganga Jamuna (1961), and Mere Mehboob (1963). Although Badayuni worked most extensively with Naushad, he also collaborated with Ravi and Hemant Kumar as well. His lyrics for the song Husnwale Tera Jawab Nahin and Ravi's music both won Filmfare Awards for the hit film Gharana. His other notable film with Ravi is Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960), while Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962) is his biggest hit with Hemant Kumar. The title song from Chaudhvin Ka Chand, rendered by Mohammed Rafi, won Badayuni the Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist in 1961.

Shakeel penned numbers for around 89 films. In addition, he wrote many popular ghazals which are still sung by vocalists like Pankaj Udhas and others. Shakeel shared a close friendship with Naushad, Ravi and Ghulam Mohammed, with whom he enjoyed his life to the fullest. Unlike other shayaars, he wasn't an alcoholic.

Shakeel Badayuni succumbed to diabetes complications at the age of fifty-three on April 20, 1970, leaving behind his wife, a son and a daughter. His friends, Naushad, Ahmed Zakaria, and Rangoonwala formed a trust called Yaad-e-Shakeel after his death and this trust is now the source of some income to his bereaved family.

Begum Akhtar or Akhtari Bai Faizabadi (October 7, 1914 – 1974) was an Indian vocalist of Ghazal, Dadra and Thumri.

Her first public performance was at the age of fifteen. She also acted in several Bollywood films, including Mumtaz Beghum (1934), Jawaani Ka Nasha(1935), King for a Day (1933, director : Raaj Hans). She received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for vocal music, and was awarded Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan (posthumously) by Govt. of India Today her name is almost synonymous with the concept of ghazal gayaki, and her imitable style of singing which immortalized her, and gave her the title of Mallika-e-Ghazal (Queen of Ghazals)

Begum Akhtar was born in Bada Darwaza, Town Bhadarsa, Bharatkund, Faizabad District, Uttar Pradesh. Her father Asghar Hussain, a young lawyer who fell in love with her mother Mushtari and made her his second wife, subsequently disowned her and his twin daughters Zohra and Bibbi (Akhtar)

Akhtar was barely seven when she was captivated by the music of Chandra Bai, an artist attached to a touring theatre group. However, at her uncle's insistence, she was sent to train under Ustad Imdad Khan, the great sarangi exponent from Patna, and later under Ata Mohammed Khan of Patiala. Later, she travelled to Calcutta with her mother and learnt music from classical stalwarts like Mohammad Khan, Abdul Waheed Khan of Lahore, and finally she became the disciple of Ustad Jhande Khan.

Her first public performance was at the tender age of fifteen. She took the music world by storm. The famous poetess, Sarojini Naidu, appreciated her singing during a concert which was organised in the aid of victims of a Bihar earthquake of 1934. This encouraged her to continue singing ghazals with more enthusiasm. She cut her first disc for the Megaphone Record Company, at that time. A number of gramophone records were released carrying her ghazals, dadras,thumris, etc.

She was raped by one of her patrons and gave birth to a daughter. In her later life as a respectable married woman she had to pretend the daughter was her cousin.

Begum Akhtar's good looks and sensitive voice made her an ideal candidate for a film career in her early years. When she heard great musicians like Gauhar Jan and Malak Jan, however, she decided to forsake the glamour of the film world for a career in Indian classical music. Her supreme artistry in light classical music had its moorings in the tradition of pure classicism. She chose her repertoire in primarily classical modes: a variety of raags, ranging from simple to complex. After the advent of talkie era in India, Beghum Akhtar acted in a few Hindi movies in thirties. East India Film Company of Calcutta approached her to act in "King for a Day" (alias Ek Din Ka Badshah) and Nal Damayanti in 1933.

Like others of that era, she sang her songs herself in all her films. She continued acting in the following years. Subsequently Beghum Akhtar moved back to Lucknow where she was approached by the famous producer-director Mehboob Khan, as a result of which she acted in "Roti" which was released in 1942 and whose music was composed by maestro Anil Biswas. "Roti" contained six of her ghazals but unfortunately due to some trouble between producer and director, Mehboob Khan subsequently deleted 3-4 ghazals from the film. All the ghazals are available on Megaphone gramophone records. Beghum Akhtar, meanwhile, left Bombay and returned to Lucknow.

In 1945, Akhtaribai married a barrister, Ishtiaq Ahmed Abbasi, and became known as Begum Akhtar. However, after marriage, due to her husband's restrictions, she could not sing for almost five years and subsequently, she fell ill, that is when her return to music was prescribed as a befitting remedy, and in 1949 she returned to the recording studios.She sang three ghazals and a dadra at Lucknow Radio Station. She wept afterwards and returned to singing in concerts, a practice that lasted until her death.

Her voice matured with time, adding richness and depth. She sang ghazals and other light classical pieces, singing them in her inimitable style. She has nearly four hundred songs to her credit. She was a regular performer on All India Radio. She usually composed her own ghazals and most of her compositions were raag based.

During her last concert in Ahmedabad, she raised the pitch of her voice as she felt that her singing had not been as good as she had wanted it to be. She was not feeling well on the fateful day. The additional demand and stress that she put herself under resulted in her falling ill and was rushed to the hospital.

She died on October 30, 1974, in the arms of Nilam Gamadia, her friend, who invited her to Ahmedabad, which has become her final performance.

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