One of the greatest legends of Indian light classical vocal music. A lady in the cultural backdrop of Lucknow, Begum Akhtar achieved a legendary status in her own lifetime as an unparalleled pioneer in the field of Indian light classical music. Her greatest achievement was the popularisation of traditional form of thumri and ghazal singing in India and abroad. Starting her singing career at the age of seven, Begum Akhtar's first concert performance was in Calcutta (1934). Her first hit came in 1938 with 'Deewana banana he to deewana bana de' with subsequent renditions of 'Merey hum nafas mere hum nasheen' and 'Aye mohabbat tere anjaam pe rona aya' hits that immortalised her. Click here for her classic 'aey mohabbat tere anjaam pa rona aaya' She wanted to be seen as someone with a status in society and not to be identified as a singer or a tawaif. It was this yearning for respectability that drove her to marry Ishtiaq Ahmed Abbasi, a respected Lucknow barrister, in 1944. Begum Akhtar was awarded India's two top honours - Padma Shi (1968) and Padma Bhushan (1975). Begum Akhtar, known in her early years, as Akhtari Bai Faizabadi was the daughter of Syed Asghar Hussain, a civil judge in Lucknow.
Compiler: M. Nauman Khan