Khursheed Bano was one of the beautiful singer actresses of Hindi cinema. She was very popular in her heyday. She was indeed very beautiful and obviously a talented singer.
It would sound strange but acting was her first love. And when she joined films, the actors had to sing for themselves whether they could sing or not. Fortunately Khursheed was blessed with a beautiful voice as well. So she sang just because acting was her passion and singing was mandatory.
Image Courtesy – Anmol Fankaar
There’s very little information available about her early life. And her debut in Calcutta as Shehla is also not an authentic information. Please refer to this article by Arunkumar Deshmukh on Atul’s blog, ASAD. My post is based on the said article, Manek Premchand’s Yesterdays’s melodies Today’s Memories.
She was born on 14th April 1914 at Lahore as Irshad. She started with the movie Mirza Sahiban (1934 / 35) in Lahore. Appreciation and encouragement by her fans motivated her to join the Hindi film industry in Bombay (now Mumbai). She joined Ranjit Movietone perhaps in the late 30s. She acted in a number of films under the banner. With composers like Khemchand Prakash and Gyan Dutt, she reached heights of popularity. The films include Pardesi, Shadi, Beti, Bhakta Surdas, Tansen, Nurse, Mumtaz Mahal, Shehanshah Babar, Moorti etc. Her popular co-stars were, K L Saigal, Motilal, Ishwar Lal, Nazeer and Sadiq Ali. She was senior to Suraiya and Noorjahan.
Most of the songs on today’s list are solos with a very few duets. I managed to add three of her duets with male playback singers. Duets of Khursheed with female playback singers that I could find were with Vasanti. Though a couple of songs from Pardesi (1941) are credited to Khursheed and Snehprabha Pradhan, at least I couldn’t find two distinct voices in one of the songs. The other song, Bhabhi Ke Nakhre Bade appeared to have two voices, though could be differentiated only by pronunciation. While I was compiling the list, sometimes I got confused between Zohrabai Ambalewali and Khursheed. Though I won’t call the voices similar, I had to differentiate between the two by the absence of raw quality in Khursheed’s voice. There’s a sweetness in her voice. Also a few of her pronunciations are quite different from that of Zohrabai.
The two composers that you will repeatedly notice on today’s list are Khemchand Prakash and Gyan Dutt, more so the former. I think these two could extract the best of her voice and knew her comfort levels. Around 60% of today’s list is contributed by their songs. But I’ve tried to incorporate other composers as well.
Let’s now listen to my favourites by Khursheed Bano.
Khursheed has sung quite a few songs having the word ‘Ghata’. Though I couldn’t include all the songs, my list has a couple of those songs. It’s time for the first one….
Ghir Ghir Ghan Mein – Beti (1941) / Gyan Dutt – D N Madhok
I was wondering if I should call her rendition sweet or the tune sweeter. Both things compliment each other so well. And we get to enjoy a marvelous song.
Pehle Jo Mohabbat Se Inkar Kiya Hota – Pardesi (1941) / Khemchand Prakash – D N Madhok
A beautiful Ghazal composed and rendered in a typical ghazal style. Khursheed steals the show with her perfect expressions. Khursheed was opposite Motilal in the movie, who was one of her popular co-stars. Their pair was very much liked.
It was Ranjit Movietone that played a significant part in her career. Out of the couple of movies she co starred with Saigal, Bhakta Surdas was the first one. Though Saigal was at the height of popularity, Khursheed wasn’t afraid of singing with him. Her solos and duets from the movie were hit and still maintain their charm. I’ve chosen a solo and a duet for today’s post.
Panchi Bawra Chand Se Preet Lagaye – Bhakta Surdas (1942) / Gyan Dutt – D N Madhok
One of her most popular songs from Hindi films. The song is difficult to sing, mainly the words Chand Se. The aalap and murki at that juncture isn’t so easy. In addition to this song, Madhur Madhur Ga Re Manwa is also my favourite.
Chandani Raat Aur Tare Khile Hon – Bhakta Surdas (1942) with K L Saigal / Gyan Dutt – D N Madhok
One of the romantic songs from the vintage era. When simplicity and innocence ruled the Hindi film songs. What a delight it is to listen to the two contemporary stars of Hindi cinema singing together!
After Bhakta Surdas, she was chosen again opposite K L Saigal for the film, Tansen. The film was a Ranjit Movietone presentation and for me it’s one of her most popular and successful films. We can guess her popularity by the fact that she shared the silver screen twice with the great Saigal. And while Saigal sang a few of his finest songs for Tansen, Khursheed didn’t miss the opportunity either. Her songs were equally popular. If you watch the opening scene of the movie, you would know her acting too. Khursheed as an innocent, playful Tani catches our attention. I had their duet from Tansen on my Saigal’s list in January. So I wish to add a couple of outstanding solos by Khursheed.
Ghata Ghanghor Ghor – Tansen (1943) / Khemchand Prakash – D N Madhok
The film opens with the beautiful song that also denotes the first meeting of Tani and Tansen. The latter gets attracted to the simple tune a shepherd girl sings. But he tries to correct her mistakes, but Tani just ignores it. What a wonderful song! And the second song on my list with the word Ghata.
Barso Re Barso Re – Tansen (1943) / Khemchand Prakash – Pandit Indra Chandra
Another gem of Khursheed. The initial one and half minutes are slow paced and in the lower octave. Requires patience to sing and as well as to listen to. And it’s difficult to maintain sur while singing at such a slow pace. The song slowly picks up speed to attain a higher pace towards the end. Minimal orchestration and full focus on singing. And to sing it in a single take must have been a difficult task.
A bit about the background of the song, Akbar asks Tansen to sing Deepak Raag for his sick princess. The candles light on their own as Tansen sings. But he feels the pain like getting burnt. The only answer appears to be the rain. Birbal, the court philosopher, suggests to Akbar that he should look for a singer who can sing the Malhar raag . Finally Tani comes to his rescue, sings Megh Malhar Raag and saves Tansen.
Her next film with Ranjit was Nurse which was also released in 1943. Khursheed had a few solos to her credit and I’ve chosen,
Koyaliya Kahe Bole Ri – Nurse (1943) / Gyan Dutt – D N Madhok
A beautiful song. Sounds like an introductory song of the heroine in the movie.
Ranjit Movietone’s historical films Mumtaz Mahal and Shehanshah Babar were released in the same year, 1944. Though both the movies had beautiful songs rendered by Khursheed, the films did not perform successfully at the box office. But it’s worth listening to songs from these movies. Mainly I would highlight her songs from Mumtaz Mahal. The film had five beautiful solos by Khursheed. I had to limit it to just a couple of songs from the movie, to accommodate other movies. All the songs are wonderfully composed and very impressively sung.
Jo Hum Pe Guzarti Hai – Mumtaz Mahal (1944) / Khemchand Prakash – Wali Saheb
What a beautifully sung Ghazal! Just mesmerising the way Khursheed sings the song! Very simple orchestration but very impactful. Khemchand Prakash was a magician. How he presented the best of her.
Jala Patang To Is Mein Qusoor – Mumtaz Mahal (1944) / Khemchand Prakash – Wali Saheb
Another wonderful melody. Though her pronunciation sounds a bit odd, the song still captures the listener’s attention.
After Khemchand Prakash and Gyan Dutt delivered hits with Khursheed, other composers also composed for her and were able to deliver melodious songs.
Itna Bhi Na Woh Samjhake Gaye – Moorti (1945) / Bulo C Rani – Pandit Indra Chandra
While I had the wonderful trio on one of my earlier lists, I found myself choosing this soulful song for today’s list. Except for the somewhat faulty pronunciation of the word इतना (she pronounces a complete त), l like it. Moorti was also Ranjit’s production. Perhaps one of her last films with Ranjit.
Hamari Gali Aana Hum Se Akhiyan Milana – Maharana Pratap (1946) / Ram Ganguly – Swami Ramanand Saraswati
The film was produced and directed by Jayant Desai. It featured Khursheed, Ishwar Lal, Mubarak. Ram Ganguly is a forgotten composer, but the song is very interesting. The prelude itself is so captivating! I think it has violin and Ravan hatha pieces. In all, it’s a delightful experience to listen to.
After Hum Ek Hai (1946), Dev Anand’s next release was, Aage Badho opposite Khursheed. He had no songs to lip sync to in his first movie (Hum Ek Hai), so perhaps Rafi was the first to sing for him onscreen. Aage Badho was also produced by Prabhat Films, a very renowned banner of that time. It was directed by Yashwant Pethkar. Khursheed had 4 solos and one duet. I like all the songs, though I know the songs are not very popular. Let’s listen to a couple of songs,
Sawan Ki Ghataon – Aage Badho (1947) with Rafi / Sudhir Phadke – Amar Verma
Khursheed looks a bit old opposite a completely naive Dev Anand, or so my thinking goes. But I absolutely love this playful song. The music is so pleasant, and the lyrics are cute. Hero requests the clouds to be gentle, else his beloved would get frightened. Though Khursheed claims to be a brave heart, she runs to the hero when the thunderstorm strikes!
Prabhu Ji Aayi Sharan Tihari – Aage Badho (1947) / Sudhir Phadke – Amar Verma
A beautiful and soulful bhajan by Khursheed. Its orchestration is typical bhajan style. Khursheed sings it well and acts well too. While she is good in romantic and joyous scenes, she acts well in a melancholy mood as well. We can clearly observe her passion for acting.
To end my list, I’m presenting a song from Sohrab Modi’s film. She shared the screen with singer Surendra in Minerva Movietone’s Manjhdhar. She sang four solos and a couple of duets with Surendra for the movie. I obviously chose a duet from the movie, the third of her duets on my list.
Prem Nagar Ki Or Chale Hum – Manjhdhar (1947) with Surendra / Ghulam Haider – Shams Lakhnawi
I’m delighted to find this song to end my list. What a beautiful song it is! I hadn’t heard it before and it took some time for me to like it. Purely romantic it sounds, though shades of other emotions do highlight the verses.
After partition Khursheed chose to return to her hometown in Lahore. Her last released film in India was Aap Beeti (1948). Though Papiha Re (1948) is said to be her last film in India, I wasn’t able to locate songs by Khursheed from the movie. So the information could be incorrect. She acted in a couple of films in Pakistan, Mandi and Fankaar, both released in 1956. The films were not successful. I tried searching for songs from those films, but drew a blank. She married Lala Yakub but it wasn’t successful. After divorce she married Yousaf Bhai and devoted herself to family. She wasn’t much interested in movies due to the changing scenario of the film industry.
She died on 18th April 2001 when she was 87 years old, actually just four days after her birthday.
Image shared by Mr Anil Sawant
She still maintains her place in the minds of her fans. She was the first singing actress of Hindi cinema. It’s a sad thing that she has been forgotten . Though I knew about her songs from Bhakta Surdas, Tansen and Aage Badho, her other songs were largely unheard. She had a wonderful voice and she could emote well through her apt expressions. I was just wondering about her pronunciation of a few words in some of the songs. But it could be the style of that period.
This year I decided to write about the playback singers of the vintage era. I could do it for four months in a row, starting in January 2022. And I am so glad I did it. Someday soon I must write about Surendra’s songs.
Please add your favourite Khursheed song.
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