In her prolonged career Shamshad ji had all sorts of good and bad experiences. But she remained content and happy. When asked what is the philosophy of her life, she responded with a Kabir doha:
Not many biographical books are available on Shamshad ji. I could lay my hand on this one…written in Marathi by Swapnil Pore.. a biographical book on Shamshad ji, Suraiyya and Geeta Dutt….”Door Koi Gaaye”. Lot of good information on Shamshad ji’s personal life, her career, her associates, films and songs.
This book covers Shamshad ji’s life in her early years and how she got into the films. Below is my translation of some of the interesting information about this phase of her life, which may not be known to many here.
written by shyam uttarwar
Shamshad ji studied in Muslim Girl’s school in Lahore. She was the only girl in the school who could sing the prayer in tune. The school principal was the first to realize and believe that Shamshad ji could make the country swing with her voice one day. Shamshad ji studied upto grade 5 in that school.
When she was 8 or 9, she used to accompany the ladies who used to sing in Punjabi style on dholak. Other than her uncle Amiruddin, no one else in her family had any interest in music and that used make Shamshad ji feel sad. How is that no one in the family could even hum, she used to wonder.
Shamshad ji had 5 brothers and 3 sisters. When she used to listen to any song, she could remember the lyrics and tune. It was only much later that her older sister Mubarak started encouraging her.
Miyan Husainbaksh Maan was her father’s name and her mother was Ghulam Fatima. The Maan family used to stay in a spacious house on Lohari Mandi in Lahore. Later they shifted to Salamat Mohalla on Mohini Road.
Shamshad ji was called Shaddo in home. Like many girls in those days, her talent would not have come to light had it not been for her uncle, Amiuddin. Not only her uncle encouraged her to pursue her interest, but also opened for her, the doors to the outside music world. During the Moharram days, he used make her sing Marciya and used to give her few coins on singing well. He was a sufi and had great interest in listening to ghazals and qawwalis. It was her uncle only who took her to the audition of Jenophone company, who was looking for new singers then, opening the doors to the rewarding career later. Shamshad ji was just 13 years then.
In her younger days, Shamshad ji stayed away from publicity. She did not attend filmi parties nor gave interviews to the press. She was a simple and a quiet person and remained so for most of her life. So there aren’t many photographs of her from her younger years. In early 70s, when she had crossed 50, she did a stage show and for the publicity of that show, she was photographed. About the same time, HMV came out with a cassette of her songs and her photograph from the same session was used on the cover. Here is one photograph from that session. She was, probably, doing rehearsal for that stage show