Firdausi Begum: Sweetness
By Anis Ahmed Shakur
Kahan ho tum
ko dhoond rahi hain,ye baharain ye sama
Firdausi Begum, highly distinguished singer of the yesteryears, was
born in Kooch Bihar, Bengal, India, in 1941.
The daughter of eminent composer, Abbas Uddin, Firdausi grew up in
the musical atmosphere.
Her music teachers began teaching her music as soon as she could
She received extensive music lessons from Ustaad Munir Husain Khan,
Ustaad Mohammad Husain Khan and Ustaad Mastaan Gama.
Moreover, Ustaad Qadir Zamiri, nephew of Ustaad Zamir Uddin Khan,
trained Firdausi in the art of ghazal singing and thumri.
She incorporated the basics of music rapidly and with great flair.
It seems that God wanted her to be a singer and that is a lot to
live up to. She could feel the music glow within her.
Firdausi spent her earlier days with her family in Calcutta, India.
After partition, she migrated with her parents to Dacca, Bangladesh.
Firdausi, who was very talented and irrepressibly ambitious, soon
started participating in Children’s music programs, broadcast from Dacca radio station.
She also entertained music lovers with her songs, in private musical
In July 1955, the first song from Dacca radio station was broadcast
in fourteen year old Firdausi’s voice.
She earned encomiums from numerous dignitaries present on that occasion.
Prominent amongst them was reputed Bengali Poet, Qazi Nazrul Islam,
who was all praise for Firdausi’s performance.
The crowd erupted in cheers. The listeners rose to their feet to
have a glimpse of her.
Firdausi, who was determined to fulfill her music teachers dream,
exulted amid loud applause.
Firdausi debut from the super hit film ‘Chanda’ in 1962.
She recorded two songs for the film.
As a matter of fact, the film ‘Chanda’ was also the first
Urdu movie made in Bangladesh.
Below is the first Urdu film song recorded in Firdausi’s voice.
It was a heartfelt little melody:
‘Akhian tori rah takain’ (The film ‘Chanda’,
1962, composer: Robin Ghosh, director: Captain Ehtesham)
Her voice was so pure that the strains of tragedy still echoes in
ones ears, as one listens to the second song of the film ‘Chanda’ in Firdausi’s voice:
‘Maut kay rahay low sada.’
Hope and belief in herself, was the secret of her success.
The next year, 1963, another super hit film, ‘Talaash’,
was released in Bangladesh. Great films has an enduring quality. The film ‘Talaash’ was one of them.
The following romantic number was sung by Firdausi. In reality, that
rendition became the most radio-requested song in those days:
‘Kuchh apni kaheye, kuchh meri suniye, ye raat ye tanhaye,
yoon chup to na raheye.’
Firdausi lent her voice to ‘intelligent’ films, which
attracted a sizable public. There is still a huge audience for that.
Below follows a masterpiece, which was a giant leap of success in
Firdausi’s musical career. This is one lyrical number her adorers can live with. It was an eloquent art of composition,
‘Dil dharaknay ka sabab yaad Aaya, wo teri yaad thee, ab yaad
The haunting words and simple melody lingered in our hearts, just
as they have lingered in the hearts of people throughout the country.
Firdausi, whose dedication to music was absolute, sang the following
romantic score with verve and vivacity:
‘Mausum rangeela, nasheeli hawa’ (The film ‘Talaash’)
After the mega hit ‘Kaheye, suniye’, Firdausi’s
voice became absolutely essential for almost every Urdu film, which was made in Bangladesh during those days.
Further, she also received the Presidential Award for best singer
for the Bengali film ‘Aasia’.
Additionally, Firdausi also rendered her voice for the following
films: ‘Saat rang’, ‘Kajal’, ‘Preet na janay reet’.
In the mid 1960s, Firdausi visited Karachi to record a song for the
film ‘Sehra’. Among others, she also met Nazeer Baig, popularly known as Nadeem. She was so moved by his singing
voice that she recommended him to director Captain Ehtesham. The rest is history.
Memories of our childhood floods back, as we listen to the familiar
romantic number from the film ‘Milan’:
‘Koi dil mein Aa kay muskura gaya’ (The film ‘Milan’,
director: Rehman, singer: Firdausi Begum, composer: Khan Ata Ullah Rehman).
Firdausi, who had a natural instinct for music, enchanted the movie-goers
with the words and melody of the following song:
‘Hai ye Aalam tujhay bhulanay say’ (The film ‘Nawab
The following song was recorded 37 years ago. It continues to exude
an overwhelming melancholy to this day, because Firdausi’s harmonious voice delineated tragic story:
‘Kahan ho tum ko dhoond rahi hain, ye baharain, ye sama’
(The film ‘Chakori’, 1966, composer: Robin Ghosh, singer: Firdausi Begum, picturised on Shabana).
Her voice, itself an instrument, Firdausi’s songs are all sweetness
and light. She lent her voice to the following slow lyrical number in her particular brand of sentimentality:
‘Wo meray saamnay tasweer banay baithay hain, meray her khwab
ki tabeer banay baithay hain’ (The film ‘Chakori.’)
What is unique about the following song is that the sweetness is
‘Khanak jaye ray chandi ka mera jhumka’ (The film ‘Chakori’)
Well-wishers can’t say enough good things about the singer,
who gave so much of herself to music.
Forty eight years ago, Firdausi first rendered
her musical voice to radio and later to the films—its words and tunes are still so familiar and beloved that they seem
meshed with our very existence—promises to be around quite a while longer.