Naseem Begum: The Tragedy Queen

by Anis Ahmed Shakur


Aye rahay haq kay shaheedou
wafa ki tasveero
tumhain watan ki hawa ain
salaam kehti hain
chalay jo hogey shahadat ka jaam pee kar tum
Rasool-e-pak nay bahoan mein lay liya hoga
Ali tumhari shuja'at pay jhoom tay hoan gey
Husain-e-pak nay Irshad ye kiya hoga
tumhain khuda ki raza ain salaam kehti hain

In the 1950's, Naseem Begum took music lessons from a well-known songstress cum actress of the sub-continent, Mukhtar Begum, who also happened to be the wife of the famous stage writer, Agha Hashar Kaashmiri.

Moreover, composer Sheheryaar introduced her to the Pakistan film industry.

Given herebelow are the lyrics of Naseem Begum's first film song , which became the super hit song of the fifties:

'Naino mein jal bhar Aaye, root gaya mera pyar (film:Bay-Gunah, composer:Sheheryaar, director :Anwar Baig, who was also the hero opposite Nayyar Sultana in Bay-Gunah)

Naseem Begum took first step towards fame with popular director, S.M.Yusuf's mega hit movie, 'Saheli'.The following four songs of 'Saheli', sung by Naseem Begum, are enlisted amongst the greatest film songs in the annals of the Pakistan film industry:

'Mukhray pay sehra dalay, Aajao Aanay walay'
'Hum nay jo phool chunay, dil mein chubhay jatay hain'(picturised on Shamim Ara)
'Hum bhool gaye har baath'
'Kaheen do dil jo mil jatay' (Naseem Begum-Saleem Raza, picturised on Shamim Ara and Darpan)

The magnificent music of 'Saheli' did hook director S.M.Yusuf to A.Hameed to such an extent that he requested musician A.Hameed to compose songs for all his films, to which the latter agreed.

After 'Saheli' came S.M.Yusuf's super hit movie, 'Aulad', whose songs, rendered by Naseem Begum, are rated as all-time favorites :

'Naam lay, lay kay tera hum' (film: 'Aulad', 1962, director: S.M.Yusuf, composer : A.Hameed, picturised on Nayyar Sultana)

'Aye rahay haq kay shaheedou' (film: 'Madar-e-watan, director - writer Saif Uddin Saif):

Naseem Begum had rendered this song with inspiring conviction, which has been tremendously popular with film buffs to this day.

Additionally, this war song took her on the road to lasting fame.

Acclaimed as the 'tragedy Queen', all her solos and duets are immortal.

Tragic scores accorded her instant popularity:

'Us bay-wafa ka sheher hai' (film: Shaheed,picturised on Musarrat Nazeer, director: Khaleel Qaiser)
'Aye Qaum ki maao socho zara' (film: Shaheed, song writer: Muneer Niazi)
'Zamanay mein reh kay' (film: Ye raastay hain pyar kay)

Naseem Begum had a voice that on one hand had a profound melancholy and on the other hand was an amazing blend of torment and anguish:

'Aye dil kisi ki yaad mein (film: Ik tera sahara, director: Najam Naqui)
'Sau baar chaman mehka' (film: Shaam dhalay, producer: Santosh Kumar, song writer: Sufi Ghulam Mustafa Tabassum)
'Chup gaye sitaray, naddia kinaray' (film: Darwaza)
'Day ga na koi sahara'

It was her intense tragic voice that fills one's eyes with tears as one listens to these numbers :

Nigahein ho gayeen purnum (film: Lutera)
'Zagham-e-dil chupa kay roain gey' (film: Rishta hai pyar ka, picturised on Zeba)

Naseem Begum, of rich and poignant voice, had innumerable admirers who had an advanced music awareness of her songs, relative to her predecessors.

Her voice was well suited for loud songs that demanded a high pitched voice..High and low notes came to her with utmost ease :

'Ik mera chand, ik mera tara, Ammi ki ladli, Abba ka pyara'
'Habibi hya hya, habibi hya hya' (film: Shaheed, picturised on Musarrat Nazeer)
'Mohabbat kay dum say ye duniya haseen hai' (film: Paristaan, picturised on Neelo)

It was the excellence of her singing that scored both with the composers and cine-goers from one end of Pakistan to the other.

Incomparable in sad songs, Naseem Begum was equally at ease in jolly songs as well :

'Oonchee, neechee rahoan mein' (film: Salma)
'Meri nazrain hain talwaar' (film: Shaheed,)
'Mera bichra balam ghar Aa gaya' (film: Haveli)
'Wafaon ki humko saza tau na dou gey' (film: Sawal, picturised on Rukhsana)
'Huzoor dekhiye, zuroor dekhiye' (film: Shaheed)
'Meray dil kay taar, bajay baar baar (film: Saath lakh, picturised on Neelo)
'Wah jee wah, bhar bhar kay nazar'
'Ghoonghat utah kar (film: Zaalim)
'Aaj meray munderay (film: Shabab)

Further, it was the sheer magnificence of her voice that led musicians to record songs like:

'Pyar kay budlay hamay' (film: Sipa Salaar)
'Chanda tauri chandni mein jiya jala jaye ray'
'Dil wichh howay pyar aur toon mein haani way' (film: Kanjoos)
'Ye rang-e-mehfil Aaj'(film: Al-Hilal)
'Rang-e-mehfil hai aur na tanhai (film: Jadu gar)
'Mein phool beichenay Aaye' (film: Zarqa)
'Saanu we lay chal naal way' (film: Chun putar)
'Daisaan wa Raja meray babul da pyara' (film: Kartar Singh)

Naseem Begum's mellifluous voice took her popularity to new heights and she was poised for sweeping the Pakistani cinema:

Examples are:

'Aa bhi ja dil dara' (film: Farangi, picturised on Shamim Ara)
'Dil hans, hans moh liya (film: Yaar Dost)
'Deikho jee moray balma' (film: Yaar Dost)
'Lashkara jaway gali gali: (film: Tees mar khan)
'Mahi milya ton jadon (film: Ladli)

The following songs also boosted her appeal:

'Ghair ki baataun ka Aakhir aitebar Aa he gaya (film: Aag)
'Shaam huwee na Aaye sajna (film: Ghazi bin Abbas)
'Aankhon mein Aankhein daal kay' (film: Gulfam)

While still in her teens, Naseem Begum was married to publisher Deen Mohammad, from whom she had six children, three sons and three daughters.

She won the prestigious Nigar Award four times during her twelve year singing career:

Nigar Award for best songstress for the film 'Shaam dhalay' in 1960.
Nigar Award for best songstress for the film 'Shaheed' in 1961.
Nigar Award for best songstress for the film 'Baaji' in 1963.
Nigar Award for best songstress for the film 'Lutera' in 1964.

She realised in the early sixties the enormous impact of her tragic songs on the movie-goers in general and Pakistani women in particular.

However, what she did not realize was the fact that she was racing against time.

In September 1971, at the zenith of her music career, she was experiencing labor pain, hence she was admitted to the United Christian hospital, Lahore, Pakistan.

On September 29, 1971, while delivering her sixth child, a baby boy, she suffered a brain hemorrhage, which ended her life:

'Mohabbat karnay walay kum na hoan gey
teri mehfil mein lay kin hum na hoan gey'

The best way to conclude this article is with the lyrics which Naseem Begum had recorded in her unrelenting , emotionally charged voice. (film: Aulad, 1962, director: S.M.Yusuf, composer: A.Hameed)

Hum pay ilzaam sahi, tu na ho budnaam kaheen
apnay hoan toan ko teray gham mein seeye jaa ain gey
janay walay teray qudmoan kay nishan baqi hain
hum tou sajday teri raahoan mein kiye jaa ain gey