A memory and Munni Begum

Umm..ummm…ummm..aaa….aaa….thodasa muskurake nigaahein milaiye…mujhko meri hayaat ka maqsad bataaiye...

“Munni Begum hai na?” I could hear S maamu say.

Ammi came into the room. It was me. Even when I was an adolescent, I had a full-bodied voice. Those young days, as I have said so often, were filled with eclectic music. My uncle mistaking me for Munni Begum was a huge kick. I am aware that most people rate her lower than Iqbal Bano or Mallika Pukhraj, but she was a singer and she sang the songs I liked…and it made me different. No high-pitched trill. I did not want to be a nightingale; I wanted to be a vulture with its kill, the heavy sound of breathing as it heralded life and death in one breath.

A few years later an older acquaintance told me about the similarity again. He said I laughed like her. “Where did you hear her laugh?” I asked.

“I did not…when she sings certain ghazals, it seems like laughter.”

No one makes such comparisons anymore, alas. But Munni Begum is memory, mazaak, mehek

If I become objective, then I find tremendous madhoshi, the sufi meets seductress:

niyyat-e-shauq bhar na jaa'ye kaheen - Munni Begum


  1. Most days, Nasir Kazmi is almost as good as Mustafa Zaidi, most days I said, for as the night falls and the darkness casts lingering shandows, both sound suicidal to the hilt, particularly when Munni sings - she missed the maqtaa (for the benefit of the inquiring minds)

    Aor kuch der ro hee lein nasir
    Phir yeh darya utar na jae kaheen

  2. I Lovvvved munni begum.

    Miss/lost one song i heard... it had a couplet...

    ...do boondeinn saawann ki...
    do sakhiyan bachpan ki... something like one ends up in a palace and one on a kotha.

    Can you point me to a link i can hear that one.


    Oh come on - Ek baar muskura do... ek baar muskura do



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