ePaper

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The velvet voice of India

  • Print

The 94th death anniversary of none other than Talat Mahmood, the "King of Ghazals", was on 9 May. Talat Mahmood was born in Lucknow on 24 May 1924. His father was Mansoor Mahmood. Talat was a famous Bollywood playback singer, and to a lesser extent, an actor. He was very popular in the 1950s and early 1960s and has many memorable films to his credit. His family was pretty conservative, and music was certainly not encouraged there.

However, the young Mahmood took a fondness of music very early of his age. He used to regularly visit the record stores as a youth and spent a lot of time attending all-night musical gatherings. His family did not approve Talat's interest in music and did not accept it until long after he reached professional success in the film industry.

The rise of Talat's musical career was not fickle but steady. In the 1930s he began his training at the Morris Music College under Pandit S.C.R. In 1939 when he was only 16 years old, he began to sing Ghazals on All India Radio. In 1941, HMV contracted him to sing his first disk; this was 'Sab Din Ek Samaan Nahin Tha'.  In 1944 his hit, 'Tasveer Teri Dil Mera Behela Na Sakegi,' was sold over 100,000 copies; this brought him to national limelight.

 It was then when he moved to Calcutta and began to sing and act for the film industry there. While in Calcutta he often performed under the name of Tapan Kumar.  It was in 1949 when he moved to Bombay and began to work in the film Industry there. During the 1950s he was a big name as a Bollywood playback singer.

Talat was known for his exclusive style of singing. He had a characteristic quiver in his voice that was unique.  At first many music directors saw this as a flaw, but it was Anil Biswas who saw this as a distinctive potential. He encouraged Talat to develop this and it eventually became his patent for an emotive rendition of a song.

Fame and success in the film industry is often a sea saw affair -- once you are in peak demand, for a while your career is fading with new taste. Talat Mahmood's success was to prove short lived, as changes in popular tastes started to leave him behind. More of the playback singing was given to Mohammed Rafi and Mukesh.

One of the problems with his career was that Talat became associated in the popular mind as a singer of sad songs of the Ghazal variety. When popular taste began to demand more upbeat songs, this reputation hurt him. So from the late 60s onward, Talat Mahmood was often unkindly thought of as a "has-been".  His last recording was 'Mere Shareek-e-Safar', recorded in 1985.  He died on May 9, 1998, at the age of 74.

Talat Mahmood may have passed away, but the passage of time allows us to look back upon his career, with a clearer sense of perspective. Although his peak barely spanned a decade, he has produced some of Bollywood's most treasured songs. This accomplishment has earned him a place in our hearts for all time to come.

For his accomplishment both in the spheres of cinematic and Ghazal music and intense artistic style singing he received Padma Bhusan in 1992. There is no comparison of Talat; he was gifted singer in all forms. He was particularly famous for singing soft and somber semi-classical and non-classical Ghazals, nevertheless the flam songs he sang are also considered rigid flawless and outstanding. Though Talat's genre was Ghazal, he was equally brilliant film singer who sang many sensational film songs.

Talat was fond of foreign singers like Nat 'King' Cole, Pat Boone, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley and Connie Francis. His favorite actors were Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Rock Hudson, John Wayne, Richard Burton and Sean Connery.

A highly cultured and refined man, Talat Mahmood had faultless taste for the good things of life. It was a tragedy that Chain-smoking gradually took toll of Talat's silken-voice. At the fag end of his career, he forgot singing and he could not even speak properly. Talat Mahmood died in Bombay on 9 May 1998.


The writer is a columnist
and researcher

More News For this Category

Kazi Nazrul Islam's visits to Chattogram-I

| By and Uday Sankar Das
"I have not come to be a poetI have not come to be a leaderI came to give love, I came to get loveBecause I have not had
Kazi Nazrul Islam's visits to Chattogram-I

The myth of 'cultural aggression'

| By and Sayeed Ovi
The seven cultural hearths: Mesopotamia, Mesoamerica, West Africa, the Nile River valley, the Ganges River valley, the Indus River valley, and the Wei-Huang valley have engendered all the

What is GDPR and how will it affect you?

| By and Alex Hern
You could be forgiven for thinking that Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a law created to fill your inbox with identikit warnings from every company you

Ageless Nazrul awakens the nation as national poet

| By and M N Kundu
On the occasion of 118th birth anniversary (1899-1976) of Kazi Nazrul Islam, the national poet of Bangladesh, let us revisit his lasting contribution in Bengali literature, culture and
Ageless Nazrul awakens the nation as national poet

A mountain turns into a magnet!

| By and Adnan Hamid
Great things are done when men and mountains meet, wrote William Blake. If he was alive, he should visit the Table Mountain in Cape Town to know how
A mountain turns into a magnet!

America drowns in debt while few others profit

| By and Mafizul Huq
Every month, we pay lots of our bills, for example, auto, home, life insurance, and many more. The people who live on pay check to pay check spend

Is it politically relevant today to ask whether Nehru visited Bhagat Singh in jail?

| By and Ram Puniyani
In the recently held Karnataka elections, Narendra Modi made statements which are not true, and which are made to raise the emotive pitch against his opponents.
Is it politically relevant today to ask whether Nehru visited Bhagat Singh in jail?

Those 75,000 taka for those mobile phones ...

| By
Continued from page 1With that amount of money in his or her hand, a beneficiary of this new decision will have the world in his grasp,

Entitled men's fantasies are not a 'movement'

| By and Zarin Rafiuddin
When I told my senior colleague what an 'incel' was he started laughing at the sheer absurdity. 'Incel' stands for 'involuntarily celibate' and even in the most conservative

All in the name of faith

| By and Syed Badrul Ahsan
God has always been elusive. Or the search for Him has been. Then too there are all the instances where looking for God, putatively finding Him and then
All in the name of faith

© 2018 The Asian Age