Iqbal Bano

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Iqbal Bano

Iqbal Bano Pakistani Singer
Born1935 (1935)
Died21 April 2009 (2009-04-22) (aged 73)
Years active1940 – 2007
AwardsPride of Performance (1974)

Iqbal Bano (Urdu: اِقبال بانو‎; born 1935 in Delhi – died 21 April 2009 in Lahore)[1][2] was a ghazal singer from Pakistan. She was known for her semi-classical Urdu ghazal songs and classical thumris, but also sang easy-listening numbers in the 1950s films. Iqbal Bano's prominent work includes her singing of ghazals of the great Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. In 1974, she became the recipient of the Pride of Performance award.[3]

Early life[edit]

Iqbal Bano was born in 1935 in Delhi, British India.[1][3][2] From a young age, she developed a love for music. It was a crucial moment of her life when her friend's father told Bano's father, "My daughters do sing reasonably well, but Iqbal Bano is especially blessed in singing. She will become a big name if you begin her training." Her father allowed her to study music. She spent her childhood years in Rohtak near Delhi.[3]

In Delhi, she studied under Ustad Sabri Khan and Ustad Chaand Khan of the Delhi gharana, an expert in all kinds of pure classical and light classical forms of vocal music.[3][4]

He instructed her in pure classical music and light classical music within the framework of classical forms of thumri and dadra. She was duly initiated Ganda-bandh shagird (formally initiated disciple; Ganda-bandh is a traditional knot-tying-ceremony which cements the relationship between guru and student) of her Ustad (teacher).[2]


Ustad Chaand Khan referred her to All India Radio, Delhi, where she sang on the radio and recorded her first songs.[4][1]

In 1952, aged 17, she migrated to Pakistan and also married into a land-owning family in Multan, Pakistan.[4][3] She moved to Multan with her husband who promised her that he would never try to stop her from singing, but would rather encourage and promote her. She had become a 'singing star' by the 1950s, singing soundtrack songs for famous Pakistani Urdu films like Gumnaam (1954), Qatil (1955), Inteqaam (1955), Sarfarosh (1956), Ishq-e-Laila (1957), and Nagin (1959).[4][1]

Her husband died in 1980,[4] after which she moved to Lahore from Multan. It was observed by many music critics that her temperament was particularly suited to vocal genres like thumri, dadra and ghazal. According to BBC News website, "Few singers of classical music matched the brilliance of her voice and her command over musical notes".[1][4]

Iqbal Bano was later invited by Radio Pakistan for classical performances on the radio. Her debut public concert took place in 1957, at the Lahore Arts Council.[4][3]

She was considered a specialist in singing the ghazals of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, a Lenin Prize-winning poet.[3][4][1] In 1985, Bano became a cult icon when she roused a strong crowd of 50,000 people in Lahore by singing Faiz's passionate Urdu anthem, Hum Dekhenge (We Will See),[4] despite the poet's works being banned by General Zia ul-Haq's military regime on the grounds of his close ties with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. In due course, she generated more and more public appeal and became a specialist in singing the kalam of Faiz Ahmad Faiz and had the moral courage to violate the government ban on singing Faiz's poems. Her inciting ghazals were seen as an act of defiance and resistance.[3][1]

She was considered a great singer of the ghazals of Nasir Kazmi. She also sang Persian poetry, which became popular in Iran and Afghanistan. In pre-1979 Afghanistan, she was often invited to the annual cultural fair, the Jashn-e-Kabul.[1][3]

In light classical, her presentation of Thumris in Raag Khamaj (Kaahe Sataye Mohey), Raag Tilak Kamod (Sautan Ghar Na Ja), Raag Des (Nahin Pare Mohe Chain), Raag Pilu (Gori Tore Naina Kajar Bin Kaare) and other such renderings which have become ever-green classics.[1][4]

Music lovers noted some similarities between Iqbal Bano and Begum Akhtar,[4] especially some marked resemblances in their styles of singing. Bano's recitals stuck to a classical style that lays more stress on the raag purity.[4]



After a short illness, at the age of 74, Iqbal Bano died in Lahore, Pakistan on 21 April 2009.[1][4][3][2]


On 28 December 2019, Google celebrated her 81st birthday (as born in 1938) with a Google Doodle.[5] However, some other sources indicate her birth date as 27 August.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k M. Ilyas Khan (22 April 2009). "Pakistani singer Iqbal Bano dies". BBC News website. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Ken Hunt (5 May 2009). "Iqbal Bano: Singer who transformed the genre of the ghazal". The Independent newspaper [UK]. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Iqbal Bano – Renowned Pakistani singer of Urdu ghazals". The Guardian (UK newspaper). 10 May 2009. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Iqbal Bano ghazal personified Dawn (newspaper), Published 22 April 2009, Retrieved 3 July 2020
  5. ^ "Iqbal Bano's 81st Birthday (Google Doodle on her birthday)". Google website. 28 December 2019. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  6. ^ "Iqbal Bano". Discogs website. Retrieved 3 July 2020.

External links[edit]