Death Anniversary Special: Talat Mahmood
Talat was born in Lucknow, the city with Nawabi richness. When he was in school, Kundanlal Saigal was the singer at the apex of popularity. Talat was very good looking and had very sweet voice. His father was a renowned merchant of Lucknow. He wanted Talat to continue his business; but Talat was surrounded by passion of film industry. His father was also a good singer, but he never wanted to make it a career. Talat was mad for voice of Saigal. He used to perfectly copy Saigal in singing. At young age he started working at All India Radio station of Lucknow and also obtained music training at Mauris Music School. He was pursuing degree in Science when he had been to Calcutta (Kolkata) where Prathmesh Barua appreciated his looks but for want of proper role, he could not get opportunity to act in the film.
When he could not go in films, he started performing in private singing programs and considering his popularity and singing style, HMV company produced record of his songs with young music director Subaldas Gupta. Name of Talat became famous by his song, ‘Sab Din Ek Samaan Nahi’ which was influenced by style of Saigal. After this, he reached to more people by song, ‘Tasvir Teri Dil Mera Bahala Na Saki’. Voice of Talat had unique sweetness different from Rafi, Mukesh and Kishor. It is very difficult to be famous as a singer than any playback singer, but Talat made it possible and brought that in reality
Talat had to wait a long for obtaining opportunity for playback singing. After 1940 movies used to get success on the strength of music. Like Naushad, C. Ramchandra, Khemchand Prakash, S. D. Burman, Husnlal Bhagtaram, one more music director Anil Biswas was also leading one in industry. He gave first break to Talat as a playback singer in movie ‘Aarajoo’ for the song, ‘Ae Dil Mujhe Aisi Jagah Le Chal Jahaan Koi Na Ho’. Dilip Kumar and Kamini Kaushal was the pair in Aarajoo which was released in 1950.
Rafi and Mukesh were great hit after death of Saigal, at that time Talat sang a sad song, ‘Ae Dil Mujhe’ and won hearts of music lovers. Thereafter in Babul movie Dilip Kumar narrated his grief to his lover with words ‘Mera Jivan sathi Bichhad Gaya, Lo Khatam Kahani Ho Gayi’ in the voice of Talat. His voice was perfectly suitable for Dilip Kumar. Talat conquered the industry with his romantic as well as sad songs in his sweet voice. At that time another song of Talat from movie Babul sang with Shamshad Begum, ‘Milate Hi Aankhe Dil Hua Diwana’ was the most popular duet.
Voice of Mukesh was suited nicely for Raj Kapoor and then all music directors started recording songs of Talat for Dilip Kumar. The sad roles of Dilip and sad songs by Talat became a successful equation. The song, ‘Ek Mai Hu Ek Meri Bebasi Ki Sham Hai’ by Anil Biswas in movie Taraana and the song, ‘Sham E Gam Ki Kasam, Aaj Gam Hi Hai Gam’ by Khaiyyam from movie Footpath are the best examples of this equation.
Talat narrated the sad story of hero Dilip Kumar in movie Daag in words, ‘Koi Nahi Mera Ees Duniya Me’ and ‘Hamdard Ke Maaro Ka Itana Hi Fasaana Hai’. Shankar Jaikishan took Talat to the common man with song, ‘Ae Mere Dil Kahi Aur Chal, Gam Ki Duniya Se Ji Bhar Gaya.’ Like Anil Biswas music directors like Madan Mohan, C. Ramchandra, Gulam Mohammad, Saleel Chaudhary and Shankar Jaikishan worked a lot with Talat for so many songs.
Madan Mohan perfectly identified the silky soft voice of Talat originally suitable perfectly for Gazal as Madan Mohan used to like Gazal most at the time. The songs in the voice of Talat like, ‘Meri Yaad Me Tum Na Aansu Bahaana’ or ‘Mai Pagal, Mera Manava Pagal, Pagal Pagal Meri Preet Re’ from Ashiana or ‘Mera Karaar Le Jaa, Muze Bekaraar Kar Jaa’ or ‘Ham Se Aaya Na Gaya, Tumase Bulaaya Na Gaya’ in Dekh Kabira Roya or ‘Do Din Ki Mohabbat Me Hamane Khoya Hai Kuchh, Paaya Hai Kuchh’ from movie ‘Chhote Babu’ all are remembered till the date for heavenly voice of Talat.
Some music directors perfectly presented voice of Talat to make many memorable songs with sad mood. C. Ramchandra made Talat sing in his sweet soft voice. We can experience the sweetness of love in the song, ‘Mohabbat Hi Na Jo Samaze Wah Jaalim Pyar Ka Jaane’ from Parchhaaee and ‘Bechain Nazar Betaab Jigar Yah Dil Hai Kisi Ka Diwana’ from Yasmin.
Gulam Mohammad made excellent songs with Talat in movies like Naaznin, Dil E Nadan, Maalkin and Mirza Ghalib. Saleel Da and Talat gifted us songs like, ‘Raat Ne Kya Kya Khwab Diye’ from Ek Gaanv Ki Kahani; or ‘Aansu Samaz Ke Kyo Muze Aankho Se Tumane Gira Diya’ from Chhaya.
Shankar Jaikishan and S. D. Burman gave best songs to Talat Mahmood with simple sweet songs suitable for his voice and made them popular. E Mere Dil Kahi Aur Chal from Daag, Andhe Jahaan Ke Andhe Raaste from Patita, Tuze Apane Paas Bulaat Hai Teri Duniya make us feel great. The songs by Sachin Da like Jaaye to Jaaye Kahaa, Samazega Kaun Yaha from Taxi Driver; Jalate Hai Jis Ke Liye, Teri Aankho Ke Diye from Sujata gained tremendous popularity.
Talat has less songs to his credit as compared to other singers. But his name and fame are huge. His songs cannot cross number of few thousands unlike his contemporary singers, because his principal was to sing a song only if he likes the quality.
His dream to become successful actor could never became true because with sweet voice and handsome looks he possessed very less skill of acting. He wanted to be an actor singer like Saigal but he was totally failed as an actor in films like Rajlakshmi, Samapti, Dil E Nadan, Dakbabu, Waris, Diwali Ki Raat, Lalarukh, Sone Ki Chidiya, Maalik etc. His contemporary singer Mukesh also left acting when failed in movie Maashuka.
He tried for career of his son in this field but was not that much successful. In the meanwhile, there was a huge trend of Gazal singing but he couldn’t come forward again. We have to convince ourselves with hope that Talat may re born and recall his memories with his song, ‘Gam Ki Andheri Raat Me Dil Ko Na Bekaraar Kar Subah Jarur Aayegi, Subah Ka Intezar Kar’ from movie Sushila.