Roshan Ara Begum

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Roshan Ara Begum


DiedDecember 6, 1982
OccupationClassical singer, vocalist
Years active1938-1982
StyleThumri, Khayal, Ghazal
TelevisionPTV Pakistani television
TitleMallika-e-Mauseeqi (Queen of Music)
Spouse(s)Chaudhry Ahmed Khan
  • Abdul Haqq Khan (father)
RelativesAbdul Karim Khan
HonoursPride of Performance
Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence) Award

Roshan Ara Begum (Urdu: رَوشن آرا بیگم‎) (1917 – 5 December 1982) was a Pakistani classical vocalist. As the daughter of Abdul Haqq Khan, Roshan Ara is linked through her cousin Abdul Karim Khan to the Kirana gharana (singing style) of classical music.[1][2]

Early life and training[edit]

Born in Calcutta in or around 1917, Roshan Ara Begum visited Lahore during her teens to participate in musical soirées held at the residences of affluent citizens of Chun Peer in Mohalla Peer Gillaanian at Mochi Gate, Lahore, British India (now in Pakistan).

During her occasional visits to the city she also broadcast songs from the then All India Radio station in Lahore and her professional name was announced as Bombaywali Roshan Ara Begum. She had acquired this popular nomenclature because she shifted to Mumbai, then known as Bombay, in the late 1930s to live near Abdul Karim Khan, from whom she took lessons in Hindustani classical music for fifteen years.[3][2]

A senior police officer in Bombay and a music lover, Chaudhry Ahmed Khan, approached her with an offer of marriage in 1944. Roshan Ara Begum consulted her tutor, Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, about it. She finally accepted the marriage offer on one condition that she would not have to give up her music after marriage. Her husband kept his promise and she continued to sing throughout her life.[3]

In Mumbai, she lived in a sprawling bungalow with her husband Chaudhry Ahmed Khan.[3]


Possessing a rich, mature and mellifluous voice that could easily lend itself to a wide range of intricate classical music pieces, her singing features a full-throated voice, short and delicate passages of sur, lyricism, romantic appeal and swift taans. All these flourishes were combined in her unique style that reached its peak from 1945 to 1982. Her vigorous style of singing was interspersed with bold strokes and layakari. She had control over a wide range of ragas. Melody was considered the most important feature of her singing.[3]

Migrating to Pakistan in 1948 after the partition of India, Roshan Ara Begum and her husband settled in Lalamusa, a small town in Punjab, Pakistan from which her husband hailed. Although far away from Lahore, the cultural centre of Pakistan, she would travel back and forth to participate in music, radio and television programmes.[3]

A widely-respected classical music patron of Pakistan, Hayat Ahmad Khan approached her and convinced her to become one of the founding members of All Pakistan Music Conference in 1959. To promote classical music, this organization continues to hold annual music festivals in different cities of Pakistan even today.[2][4]

Even though she was called "Malika-e-Mauseeqi" (Queen of Music) in Pakistan, she was widely considered to be a humble, sincere and a remarkably simple person.[3] She would wake up early in the morning and start her 'riyaz' (musical practice) after her morning religious prayers. She decided to adopt a boy and a girl since she herself remained childless.[3][2]

Roshan Ara Begum also sang some film songs, mostly under music composers like Anil Biswas, Feroze Nizami and Tassaduq Hussain, for films such as Pehali Nazar (1945), Jugnu (1947), Qismat (1956), Roopmati Baazbahadur (1960) and Neela Parbat (1969).[1]

Noted Pakistani classical musicians Bade Fateh Ali Khan, Amanat Ali Khan of Patiala gharana and Ustad Salamat Ali Khan of Sham Chaurasia gharana used to listen to her recordings for their own enjoyment.[3]

Awards and recognition[edit]

She died in Pakistan on 6 December 1982 at the approximate age of sixty-five. Roshan Ara Begum received the Sitara-e-Imtiaz Award or (Star of Excellence) Award and the Pride of Performance Award in 1960 from the President of Pakistan, and was the first female vocalist to be awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz.[3]


  • Kirana, by Roshan Ara Begum. Published by Gramophone Co. of India, 1994.


  1. ^ a b Top tracks of Roshan Ara Begum website, Retrieved 29 April 2019
  2. ^ a b c d Amjad Parvez (12 June 2018). "Roshan Ara Begum -- the queen of sub-continent's classical music". Daily Times (newspaper). Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Profile of Roshan Ara Begum on website Retrieved 29 April 2019
  4. ^ Ali Usman (18 October 2010). "APMC (All Pakistan Music Conference) celebrates 50 years". The Express Tribune (newspaper). Retrieved 29 April 2019.

External links[edit]