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Talat Mahmood (February 24, 1924 - May 9, 1998) was an Indian Bollywood singer and actor. He was a recipient of Padma Bhushan. He was famous for his ghazals, resulting in a title of "king of ghazals" bestowed upon him by fans and critics.
Talat has often been described as a singer with a silky voice. His voice never suited loud songs, songs that demanded a high-pitched voice. Shouting or screaming didn't suit him and so he avoided those kinds of songs too. He only sang soft, romantic, lyrical, ghazals.

Talat who was the first Indian singer to go on a foreign concert tour in 1956 to East Africa, found eager fans awaiting his arrival in foreign countries. Talat found packed audiences in USA, England, West Indies and other countries where he packed gigantic halls like Royal Albert Hall in London, Madison Square Garden in USA and Jean Pierre Complex in West Indies. He continued singing to packed auditoriums till 1991 when he toured Holland. Talat sang about 800 songs in his long career. His songs are as popular with his fans as they were the day these were released.

Early days

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.

Talat's 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.

Singing career

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!

His 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.

In 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.

But 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.

In 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.

Memorable songs

Even though Talat sang hundreds of hits, some of his most memorable songs from Hindi cinema are;
Humse 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)

Movie career

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".

Sourced from wikipedia and meant for information only.

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