Shamshad Begum's Collaboration with Ghulam Haider

"Ghulam Haider"


Ghulam Haider

Any discussion on Shamshad ji's work is incomplete without more than a mention of Master Ghulam Haider, the renowned composer.
Ghulam Haider Sahab had been born at Sindh in Hyderabad in 1908. He had undergone training in music from Babu Ganeshlal. He formally joined a dentistry school and would have gone on to become a dentist, but thankfully for us, fate deemed otherwise. His love for music forced him to quit dentistry Giving up dentistry, he worked in the theatre in Calcutta as a harmonium player - first at the Alfred Theatrical Company and then the Alexandra Theatrical Company. He briefly worked with the Jenaphone recording company as composer and broke into films in Lahore with the father-son duo of Roshan Lal Shorey and Roop Kishore Shorey.

Lahore was not a big film center in those days (Calcutta's New Theatres was the big center) but this was to change in the coming years. Even though the first Punjabi movie came in 1934, there was not a big market for them. Due to this reason, Ghulam Haider sahab got more work for non-film records. His
wife Umraozia Begum was herself a renowned singer-actress who had quit films after marriage. It was at the Jenaphone Recording company that Ghulam Haider Sahab first met Shamshad who had come for an audition, brought there by her supporting Uncle. Ghulam Haider liked her audition and She was selected. She underwent rigorous training along with others (including Noorjehan) and thus started her partnership with Ghulam Haider sahab. He was to get many songs
recorded by her in the coming years. According to some unconfirmed reports, he recorded atleast one song with her for the movie Majnu(1935) which had his music. She recorded lots of Punjabi songs and Naats also during that period for him, some of which were sung with Umrazia Begum as well who had become a good friend of hers. Shamshad ji also recorded some Bhajans durring ther period, although her name was replaced with a Hindu Name (Radha Rani) due to
commercial reasons on the records. Shamshad also gained popularity by singing for All India Radio, first at Peshawar and later when it opened in Lahore.


Shamshad Begum has said in an interview, that Master Ghulam Haider was like her Guru. He was the one who guided her early career and helped her develop her style of singing. According to her, She learnt two lessons of Life from him. First, to be a good person and the second, just like water takes the shape of the vessel, the same way, one should adjust with the circumstances.


According to some estimates, Shamshad may have recorded nearly 200 non-film songs with Ghulam Haider in those days. Unfortunately, very less detail is available of those songs.

The Lahore film industry started developing very fast after Dilsukh Pancholi setup his Pancholi Studio at The Upper Mall, Lahore in 1937. He used Ghulam Haider's services for his movie Gul Bakavali which was a big hit. When Pancholi made the movie Yamla Jatt in 1940, Ghulam Haider made Shamshad sing for actress Anjana  while the young Noorjehan sang for herself. The songs of the movie were extremely popular. The following year songs of Chaudhary also became popular. Noorjehan was the heroine of the movie but Shamshad ji also sang for the movie.

The big break for the duo however came with the Pancholi's movie Khazanchi alias The Cashier in 1941. Ghulam Haider had Shamshad sing all the songs for this movie. An adept composer, He gave his best to the movie and the results were there for all to see. The movie also heralded the introduction of Punjabi music including the use of the dholak and the tabla to give taal (beat) to Hindi film music. The songs of the movie were a huge rage. In particular, the duet he sang with Shamshad, Sawan Ke Nazaare Hain Ahaa Ahaa reverberated across the continent. Other songs like Mann Dheere Dheere Rona, Ek Kali Naazon Ki Pali and Diwali Phir Aa Gayi Sajni among others were not far behind in popularity. The quality of the music and playback singing is remembered till this day by the connoisseurs of Indian Cinema.

Ghulam Haider continued the trend in 1942 with Khandaan and Zamindaar both of which had songs sung by Shamshad ji. The songs of both the movies were also big hit. Khandaan was a Noorjehan starrer but Shamshad also had a few songs. Pee Le More Raja Pee Le  is one of the songs sung by Shamshad ji. Zamindaar also had lovely music and Ghulam Haider's developing popular style. Duniya Mein Gareebon Ko Araam Nahi Milta and Mere Haal Par Bebasi Ho Rahi Hai sung by Shamshad ji were two of the popular songs.

Ghulam Haider knew how  to compose songs which did justice to the singer's talents as well as the situation in the films. In 1943, Poonji was to bring him to the pinnacle with many more songs sung by Shamshad. Gaadiwaale Dupatta Uda Jaaye Re is just one of those lovely songs which showcase the talent of the duo.

In 1944, Ghulam Haider moved to Bombay. Shamshad ji had already moved there. Their partnership continued with Gyan Mukherjee's Chal Chal Re Naujawan, the Ashok Kumar- Naseem starrer. Shamshad had as many as five songs for the movie which were fairly popular. The songs include Mere Devta Lo Meri Aarti, Laaye Balamwa Mere Liye Haar, Ho Gori Pyar Bhara Dil and So Ja Meri Laadli. The most popular song was however, Jai Bharat Desh Teri Jai which was sung by Ashok Kumar with chorus.

Haider's arrival in Bombay, brought more innovations in his music and also added more dimensions to the duo's partnership. This was on full display in 1945, with the Nargis starrer Humayun. Shamshad sang the songs for the film which were immensely popular. Naina Bhar Aaye Neer was a chartbuster from the film. Tje other songs are also glowing gems in the partnership of the duo.

Haider also gave music for Phool the same year. The songs sung by Shamshad and Suraiyya were appreciated all over.

In 1946, the duo returned with Bairam Khan. All the six songs featured Shamshad and were loved by all. Two of those songs were Tum Kis Liye Aate Nahin and Ashqon Pe Khatam Hua Mere Gham Ka Fasaana. There even was a lovely song sung by Shamshad ji in chorus with the fresh singers Geeta Roy and Munawwar Sultana, Jab Chaand Jawaan Hoga. Ghulam Haider was thus, churning out more and more melodious songs.

Their other outing together that year, Shama was an even bigger hit which made waves all over. Not only did it produce hits but also brought the lovely Rehana into the limelight. Although, only in a supporting role here, She got herself noticed as She danced to the Shamshad-Zohrabai duet, Gori Chali Pee Ke Des. The other songs of the move are a listener's delight too. With Hamida, we have Shamshad singing an extremely delightful, Dil Thandi Hawa Mein Uda Jaaye, a song which makes the listener's heart also fly in the cold wind. Her duet with the other Punjabi singing sensation, G.M. Durrani, Ek Yaad Kisi Ki Yaad Rahi is similarly mandatory listening for their fans.

1947 saw the duo working on But Tarash which had some lovely songs as well even though it was not as successful as Shama. Of these, Faani hai Jawani Pee Le is a lovely example of their collaboration. Shamshad shows a quite different dimension of her singing in this slow song. Ghulam Haider probably used her voice for Nargis again in Mehendi the same year too but the songs and details are not available. Over all, 1947, the year was not very good for Ghulam Haider, one of the biggest reasons of which was the departure of many of his musicians to Lahore due to the partition.

In 1948, He tried to gain lost ground by promoting singers Surinder Kaur and Lata Mangeshkar in addition to Geeta Roy whose singing he had already been using. The songs of Shaheed were very popular as were those of Majboor.

However, He was getting inclined towards going to Pakistan. But he did not do so before using the services of Shamshad again for the film Kaneez. This movie also had Hansraj Behl as the composer for few songs. Ghulam Haider composed a lovely parting song for Shamshad ji, a duet with G.M. Durrani, Tum
Kya Jaano More Maathe Ki Bindiya Ka Mol. The song is extremely pleasant and is a fitting parting for our lovely duo. Shamshad ji decided to stay back in Mumbai and thus the two got separated. With this the end of this golden collaboration came to an end.

Ghulam Haider gave music to a few films back in Pakistan. But only the music which did well was for the film he co-produced, the famous Noorjehan starrer Gulnaar in 1953. Sadly, He passed away just three days after its release at the early age of 45. Ironically, his composed Noorjehan song popular at that time from Gulnaar was, “Lo Chal Diye Voh Hamko Tassalli Diye Baghair, Ik Chand Chhup Gaya Hai Ujala Kiye Baghair”. It is indeed sad, that Ghulam Haider left the world suddenly at a young age like this, a Moon who could have spread so much light in the years  to come. But again, we are greatful for all the lovely melodies which he left us that shall ensure that his name is saved for posterity.


As a tribute to the immensely talented duo, we are providing most of the songs of the combination for your listening pleasure, discussion and enjoyment.


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