The difference of Talat Mahmood from his contemporaries

Mumbai, May 9, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio / Kreation Guru) Reminiscing those bygone days of classical folklore, the popularly acclaimed music composer Bappi Lahiri paid a richly glowing tribute to the music maestro- Talat Mahmood; one of the leading exponents of ‘Ghazal’ singing, who excelled in giving a soothingly velvety touch to the melodiously appealing ballad meters.

Born and brought up in Lucknow, the maestro took his training in the realm of classical Indian music under the tutelage of Pandit S.C.R Bhat. Despite his parental objection, his fondness for music saw Mahmood embark upon the career of a singer in 1939. His acclaim as a ‘Ghazal’ singer was soon to spread far and wide. In spite of being a part of the keenly competitive scenario marked by the glaring presence of K.L. Saigal, Ustaad Barkat Ali Khan and M.A Rauf , Mahmood could easily surge ahead on account of his distinctive classical flair in vocal performance.

One of India’s leading gramophone companies provided him the necessary platform to showcase his outstanding brilliance. His first record was released in 1941. With ‘tasveer teri dil ko……’ he reached the pinnacle of popularity. Following his soaring popularity, he was soon ushered into the film industry with noted film makers acknowledging his prospective flair for playback singing. While Kolkata pioneered his playback singing and acting, he made a major impact on Mumbai with his breakthrough number ‘Ae dil mujhe aisi….’for the film “Arzoo”. His other leading playback numbers include ‘ Aansoo samajh ke…’, ‘Jalte hai jiske liye…’ and ‘ Aye mere dil kahin…’ for the films “Chhaya”,”Sujata” and “Daag” respectively.

The domain of play back singing was even more competitive with the renowned co existence of leading singers such as Mukesh, Md. Rafi and Manna Dey. Nevertheless he was a class apart with his unique voice and variation, endowing ‘Ghazals’ with a refreshing dimension and meaning.

The silky vibration of voice and a natural display of sobriety were the hallmarks of his novel style. With his signature tremor he could raise the appeal of the wonderfully structured poetic meters taking them to escalate a majestically sensuous height. Having sung more than seven hundred songs his rendition enthralled people all over India and abroad including those of Pakistan and West Indies. With the subsequent decline of poetic numbers, Talaat’s vocal rendition might have failed to reap commercial benefits, but his was an exquisite melody allowing listeners to delve into the subtle nuances of poetic beauty. Despite the intensity of baritone exhibited by the existing playback singers, we can well fathom why he stood out from the rest.

While recounting the Ghazal maestro’s contribution on the occasion of his death anniversary, Bappi Lahiri correctly assessed his musical brilliance. The composer sadly reflected how keen he was in working with him, but he could not avail of the right opportunity.  His was a voice perfect for a heart wrenching melody of a soothing number which could not be destroyed by the ravishing effects of the surging junk culture. Despite rocking and rolling with peppy numbers one can not overlook the timeless beauty of Mahmood’s rendition.