Google’s latest doodle is dedicated to the Queen of Ghazals Akhtari Bai on her 103rd birth anniversary today.
The infamous classical singer and actor Akhtari Bai Faizabadi was born on 7th October 1914 in Bada Darwaza, Budharsa in the city of Lucknow.
Inspired by great singers and musicians at the age of 7, she went on to become an idol of singing, and some of her most acknowledged works included ghazals like the dadra and thumri. She has to her name innumerable records stored in megaphones and gramophones and a large audience who admired her works.
Her ghazals were adopted into songs, which she used to sing herself as the playback singer in films, like many singers of her time.
Her beauty and compassionate voice made producers cast her for their films, and she acted in lead roles in many films in the 1930s, popular ones including roti by Madhav Kaale and Jalsaghar by Satyajit Ray, among several others.
In 1968, she was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India for her work in dadra and thumri, and was rendered the title “Queen of Ghazals” or Mallika-e-Ghazal thereafter.
Later, she received the Sangeet Natak Academi Award in 1972 for her songs, which added to her glory, and the Padma Bhushan (posthumously).
She has sung over 400 songs in her lifetime and acted in several movies. Begum Akhtar, as she was better to know after her marriage to Lucknow-based barrister Ishtiaq Ahmed Abbasi, was praised by Sarojini Naidu at a concert organized in the aid of the victims of the 1934 Nepal-Bihar earthquake, and several other prominent persons like the famous writer Satyajit Ray, who even directed a film Jalsaghar with Akhtari in the lead role.
Her biography Begum Akhtar: The Story of My Ammi, written by one of her disciples Shanti Hiranand (who went on to become an awardee of the Padma Shri herself) was published in 2005, adding to several others written in her name, such as Begum Akhtar: Love’s own voice by S. kalidasa and Begum Akhtar: The Queen of Ghazals by Sutapa Mukherjee, along with several others.