Khursheed Begum a.k.a. Irshad Begum was a notable singer-actress of the `40s, whose songs from Bhakta Surdas (1942) and Tansen (1943) still linger in the memory of film music buffs.
She started her film career way back in the thirties. Between 1940 to 1947, Khursheed was one of the leading female singing stars in undivided India. Those were the days when actors used to be under long-term contracts with film companies or studios. Similarly, Khursheed was on the regular payroll of Chandulal Shah’s Ranjeet Movietone Studios, then known to be a veritable factory of box office hits, and her leading men included Saigal, Motilal, and Jairaj.
Soon after partition she migrated to Pakistan with her husband and manager Lala Yaqub, an occasional actor and member of the Bhatti Gate group. She settled down in Karachi, where she did only two movies, Mandi and Fankar, both released in 1956. Mandi attracted some attention because of Khursheed, but because of poor direction and other technical shortcomings, neither the singer Khursheed nor the music director Rafique Ghaznavi’s musical score could click at the box office. Fankar was produced by Robert Malik, a teacher at a Christian Mission High School. This film also didn’t fare well at the box-office . Frustrated by her predicament, she left her spouse and married a genuine admirer Yusuf Bhai Mian, who was in the shipping business. After retiring from films, she made philanthropy the mainstay of her existence. Since then she refused to give interviews or even talk about her film career. She was 79 when she passed away.
She appeared in almost 15 films produced by Ranjeet. Of these, some of the more significant ones were Holi, Musafir, Shaadi, Beti, Nurse, Mumtaz Mahal, Moorti and, of course, the unforgettable Bhakt Surdaas and Tansen.
She died on April 18, 2001 after a prolonged illness.
Panchi bawra, Singer – Khursheed Begum, Music – Gyan Dutt, Film – Bhakt Surdas, Year –1942