Talat mahmood was born in Lucknow, India, on February 24 ,
1924. he was one amongst six children and his father Manzoor
Mahmood ran an electrical curio store. Talat showed his musical
leanings from a very young age and would enjoy sitting through
all-night music soiree's listening patiently to some of the
biggest names in classical Indian music then.
father was a good singer as were his sisters. But coming from
a conservative Muslim background, singing was not encouraged.
Talat had to choose between a career in acting and singing
and staying at home. He opted for the former, though the family
accepted the fact only about a decade later when the industry
gained respectability. His conservative parents had objected
to him becoming a singer though they also were musical people.
Things only began improving when people from respectable families
started joining the industry. He didn't discourage his son
from singing either.
Talet apprenticed classical music under Pandit S.C.R. Bhat
at Morris Music College some time in the 30s. He started his
career purely as a ghazal singer in 1939. Talat Mahmood began
his singing career at the age of 16 in 1939 when he began
singing the Ghazals of Daag, Mir, Jigar etc. on All India
Radio, Lucknow. his voice had a quality distinct from all
the other singers. HMV was quick to notice this and offered
talat his first disc in 1941 "sab din ek samaan nahin
tha, ban jaoonga kya se kya main, iska to kuch dhyan nahin
tha". indeed how prophetic were these words. little did
talat know that he was soon to rise to become the greatest
names in Ghazals on the Indian Sub-continent!
reputation as a fine and promising ghazal singer was not limited
to his hometown of Lucknow, but it reached the city that proved
to shape his destiny - Calcutta. The then famous ghazal singers
were Ustad Barkat Ali Khan, K.L. Saigal and M.A. Rauf. The
classical songs he sang were " Sapnon Ki Suhaani Duniyaa
Ko " for film Shiqast and " Laage Tose Naina "
for Chaandi Ki Deewar.
1944 came the hit "Tasveer teri dil mera behela na sakegi".
The song was an overnight sensation. It's popularity was so
phenomenal and unrivalled that even today it remains one of
the top selling non-film discs. This disc brought talat fame
throughout India and soon he was beckoned by the Calcutta
film industry. Talat made cameo appearances and starred in
about 16 movies, for both the Calcutta Film Industry (hub
of the 1940s) and Bollywood. The 3 movies in which he starred
were regional hits in Calcutta.
fate had even bigger things in store for talat and in 1949
talat came to the Hollywood of India - Bombay/Bollywood. His
name and fame had already preceded him and people in the bombay
film industry were already aware of this talented singer and
soon he was offered the song. His big break came with the
song "Ae dil mujhe aisi jagha le chal jahan koi na ho"
composed by music-composer Anil Biswas for the soundtrack
of the movie " Arzoo". The song was a smash-hit
and ensured the box-office success of the movie.
talat, the music directors had found the perfect voice for
the Ghazals. His diction and intonation were word perfect.
his expressive style and emotional nuances were unparalleled.
the mellowness, sweetness and pathos in his voice set him
apart from all the other singers. Soon he was unanimously
hailed as "King of Ghazals". His romantic duets
and solos numbered in hundreds and hit after hit followed
and Talat grew into a legend.
Even though Talat sang hundreds of hits, some of his most
memorable songs from Hindi cinema are;
aaya na gaya - Dekh Kabira Roya (1957)
Jayen to jayen kahan - Taxi Driver (1954)
Tasveer banata hoon - Baradari (1955)
Dil-E-Nadaan tujhe hua kya hai - Mirza Ghalib (1954)
Sham-E-Gham ki qassam - Foothpath (1953)
Jalte hain jiske liye - Sujata (1959)
Meri yaad me tum na - Madhosh (1951)
Phir wohi sham wohi gam - Jahan Aara (1964)
Aye mere dil kahi aur chal - Daag (1952)
Talat was a handsome man and a good singer, which prompted
movie producers to try him as an actor. The handsome young
Ghazal king did not go unnoticed by the film producers, who
besieged him with offers to act in their films. Talat was
to finally accept 13 films with top heroines like Nutan, Mala
Sinha, Suraiya and others before he decided that acting was
not his forte. Talat gave up acting to concentrate on singing.
The advent of rock-n-roll in the late 1960s sidelined singers
like Talat. As long as he was top box-office draw, the movie
producers insisted on including his songs in their movies.
Talat's velvety vocals posed a special challenge to the music-composers,
most of whom leaned towards the deep baritones of Mohammad
Rafi and Mukesh. The resultant demise of his movie career
led to the decline of his singing career. At the same time,
the social changes and happiness brought about by increasing
prosperity in India meant that blue mood ghazals and heart-rending
ballads were not popular any more. Talat continued to record
good songs, but less in number. His last soundtrack recording,
in 1985, is the song "Mere Shreek-e-Safar", a duet
sung with Miss Hemlata, from the movie "Wali-e-Azam"
composed by Chitragupt and written by Ahmed Wasi.
People who remember Talat describe his nature as a quiet one.
He is often written and described as a decent man, as his
voice reflected that decency and sense of calm. Music directors
who worked with him claim that when one would listen to him,
you would get the feeling that he's a soft-hearted man. As
Naushad aptly reflects about Talat; "Because one's character
reflects one's art too".
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