Let's salute to our Indian Army together, We are proud to be Indian.
Akhtari Bai Faizabadi, also known as Begum Akhtar (7 October 1914 – 30 October 1974), was a well known Indian singer of Ghazal, Dadra, and Thumri genres of Hindustani classical music.
She received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for vocal music, and was awarded Padma Shri and later, Padma Bhushan, posthumously by Govt. of India. She was given the title of Mallika-e-Ghazal (Queen of Ghazals).
Her father, Asghar Hussain, was a young lawyer who fell in love with her mother Mushtari and made her his second wife. He subsequently disowned her and his twin daughters Zohra and Bibbi (Akhtar)
Akhtar was barely seven when she was captivated by the music of Chandra Bai, an artist attached to a touring theatre group. However at her uncle’s insistence she was sent to train under Ustad Imdad Khan, the great sarangi exponent from Patna, and later under Ata Mohammed Khan of Patiala. Later, she travelled to Calcutta with her mother and learnt music from classical stalwarts like Mohammad Khan, Abdul Waheed Khan of Lahore, and finally she became the disciple of Ustad Jhande Khan.
Her first public performance was at the age of fifteen. The famous poet Sarojini Naidu appreciated her singing during a concert which was organised in the aid of victims of the 1934 Nepal–Bihar earthquake. This encouraged her to continue singing ghazals with more enthusiasm. She cut her first disc for the Megaphone Record Company, at that time. A number of gramophone records were released carrying her ghazals, dadras, thumris, etc. She was amongst the early female singers to give public concert, and break away from singing in mehfils or private gatherings, and in time came to be known as Mallika-e-Ghazal (Queen of Ghazal).
Begum Akhtar’s good looks and sensitive voice made her an ideal candidate for a film career in her early years. When she heard great musicians like Gauhar Jaan and Malak Jan, however, she decided to forsake the glamour of the film world for a career in Indian classical music. Her supreme artistry in light classical music had its moorings in the tradition of pure classicism. She chose her repertoire in primarily classical modes: a variety of raags, ranging from simple to complex. After the advent of talkie era in India, Begum Akhtar acted in a few Hindi movies in the 1930s. East India Film Company of Calcutta approached her to act in “King for a Day” (alias Ek Din Ka Badshah) and Nal Damayanti in 1933.
During her last concert in Balaramapuram near Thiruvananthapuram, she raised the pitch of her voice as she felt that her singing had not been as good as she had wanted it to be and felt unwell. The stress she put herself under resulted in her falling ill and she was rushed to the hospital.
She died on 30 October 1974 in the arms of Nilam Gamadia, her friend, who invited her to Ahmedabad, which became her final performance.
Her tomb was a mango orchard within her home, ‘Pasanda Bagh’ in Thakurganj area, of Lucknow. She was buried alongside her mother, Mushtari Sahiba. However, over the years, much of the garden has been lost to the growing city, and the tomb has fallen into disrepair. The marble graves enclosed in a red brick enclosure, were restored in 2012, along with their pietra dura style marble inlay. Attempts are on to convert her home built in 1936 in China bazaar, Lucknow into a museum.
Her disciples include Shanti Hiranand, who later received Padma Shri and wrote, a biography Begum Akhtar: The Story of My Ammi (2005).Art critic S. Kalidas directed a documentary on her titled Hai Akhtari