I remember that I was in Bombay in 1964 when I watched Kidar Nath Sharma’s film ‘Hamari Yaad Aaye Gi’ starring Tanuja, Nutun’s little sister and Ashok Sharma. This film was released on February 1, 1962 and had a beautiful song “Kabhi Tanhaniyon May Yun Hamari Yaad Aeigi” sung by Mubarak Begum in the music of Snehel Bhatkar. More than five and a half decades have passed since this music composition was made and it is still alive in the minds of music lovers. Luck had favoured Mubarak Begum as Snehel wanted Lata Mangeshkar to sing this song but she was busy elsewhere and Mubarak Begum rendered this song instead. This song became immortal. She rendered another duet song in this movie with Suman Kalyanpur. Mubarak Begum was born in Jhunjhunu, Rajhistan in 1936. She died in Jogeshwari, Maharashtra in July 18, 2016 at the age of 80. Her singing career spread from 1949 to 1972. Mubarak Begum was a competent singer but she was not a shrewd business lady. She was more interested in the music and less in earning money. She was content if her day-to-day expenses met through her meagre earnings. She was married in her own community with two children, a son and a daughter. After her husband and daughter’s demise, she lived with her son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter until her death. Mubarak Begum started her career with light music recitals performed at All India Radio. Her career as a playback singer began in 1949. It was the Pakistani composer Shaukat Ali Nashad who gave Mubarak Begum her first break with the song “Mohe Aane Lagi Angrayi, Aja Aja Balam”. She also sang a duet “Aao Chalein, Chalein Sakhi Wahan” with the then upcoming Lata Mangeshkar in the same film. Earlier she got her first break when famous music composer Rafiq Ghaznavi. On the day of the rehearsal at Film Centre, she faltered due to stage fear. She did not realise that this failure would hurt her badly subsequently. Despite such setbacks, Mubarak Begum managed to render a total of 178 songs for Hindi films during her career for 115 films. In early part of her singing career, she had to run after getting songs. All she was offered was a line or two in a song for a paltry Rs 150 payment. One of her early film was ‘Phoolon Ke Haar’ with music by Hansraj Behl and lyrics by a team comprising of DN Madhok, Varma Malik and Indeevar. Her break came when in the Kamal Amrohi film ‘Dairya’ starring Meena Kumari and Nasir Khan; she sang seven songs composed by Harishchandra Rao who had personally selected her for the songs “Devta Tum Ho Mera Sahara” and “Thama Hai Daaman Tumhara”. The latter was the title track with Muhammad Rafi. The film failed at the box office. Because of her unique voice with a base of classical training by Riyazuddin Khan, the nephew of the great Indian classical vocalist Abdul Karim Khan, she was selected by music composers Shankar Jaikishen for the hit song “Mujh Ko Apne Gale Laga Lo Aye Mere Humrahi” for the film ‘Humrahi’, by music director Salil Chaudhry and director Bimal Roy for the song “Hum Hale Dil Sunayen Ge Suniye Ke Na Suniye” from the hit film ‘Madhumati’ starring Dilip Kumar and Vyjantimala. Only three musicians; Pandit Ram Narayan on the sarangi, a tabla player and a harmonium player were involved in this song. Famous music composer SD Burman selected her for item songs like “Woh Na Aaenge Palat Kar Unhe Laakh Hum Bulaein” for Sahir Ludheyanvi’s penned song in Dilip Kumar’s version of ‘Devdas’. Music composer Khayyam selected her for a song “Kuchh Ajnabi Se Aap Hain” in his film ‘Shagun’ in 1964. Mubarak Begum’s daughter-in-law Zarina Hussain Sheikh, told the press that the actor Salman Khan was virtually the only person from the Hindi film industry who helped the family financially on a sustained basis. He had been paying the full costs of all medicines required by the elderly lady. Lata Mangeshkar visited Mubarak Begum in hospital after the death of her daughter. She also extended financial support to the family, which still required money for Mubarak Begum’s treatment and special needs. In June 2016, Vinod Tawde, a BJP minister in the government of Maharashtra, stepped in to help the family. He found that there were no government schemes under which he could release money to the Begum, therefore he asked a charitable trust run by people close to him to help her, and they provided her with some money.