Cuckoo, Shamshad Begum and Shanker Jaikishen

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This is the only SOLO song sung by Shamshad Begum for Shanker-Jaikishan. Shanker Jaikishan used Shamshad’s voice only 3 times during their long careers. The reason for using her voice sparingly in their compositions is provided by Shamshad and her daughter Usha below…

“Shamshad Begum remembers the time she came in contact with Raj Kapoor. “He was unknown then. In fact, he introduced himself as Prithviraj Kapoor’s son. Raj was making a film and he wanted me to sing for it. I was very busy then. But out of respect for Prithviraj Kapoor, I agreed. I used to come home in the afternoon to rest. I told Raj to come to my house with his harmonium and tabla players — Shankar of Shankar Jaikishen fame and Ram Ganguly, the music director. I squeezed in the practice session during my rest time and went to the studio only for the recording.”

The film was the hugely successful and not to mention, the music was a super hit. In keeping with Shamshad Begum’s fate, Raj Kapoor also never looked back. “But gracious that he was, once after many years when he met us at my mother’s concert, he publicly said that it was she who made his life. He also said, ‘But I couldn’t do anything for her.’ He later privately admitted that it was not him who didn’t want her to sing but Jaikishen who was anti Shamshad Begum,” says Usha.”

This song is picturized on Cuckoo who was the numero uno dancer at that time (late 40s to mid 50s). Like the Helen-Asha combination later on, in many of these songs, Cuckoo’s screen `voice’ was Shamshad Begum. Together, they were responsible for some unforgettable hits including Mere ghoonghar wale baal (Pardes), Dar na mohabbat karle (Andaz), Piya piya piya piya hum aur tum (Naujawan) etc

Trivia: The record version of this song had an extra line “Sambhal kai khidki khol balamwa dekhey mera baap re” which was later censored out of the film version by Censor Board.

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