Roshan Ara Begum

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Roshan Ara Begum
Born 1917
Calcutta, India
Died 6 December 1982 [1]
Genres Khayal, Qawwali, Thumri types of classical music singing
Occupation(s) Hindustani Classical Music, Pakistani classical music
Instruments Vocal
Years active 1938–1982
Labels HMV

Roshan Ara Begum (Urdu: روشن آرا بیگم‎) (1917 – 6 December 1982) was a Hindustani classical and Pakistani classical vocalist. In Pakistan she is revered as Mallika-e-Mauseeqi (Queen of Music). As the daughter of Ustad Abdul Haqq Khan, Roshan Ara is linked through her cousin Ustad Abdul Karim Khan to Kirana gharana of classical music.[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 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 Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, from whom she took lessons in Hindustani classical music for fifteen years.[3]

Her performance in Chun Peer's abode in early 1941 pleasantly surprised local heavyweights and connoisseurs with her expertise in rendering classical compositions. In Mumbai, she lived in a sprawling bungalow with her husband Chaudhry Mohammed Hussain.[1]


Possessing a rich, mature and mellifluous voice that could easily lend itself to a wide range of intricate classical music pieces, Roshan Ara employed her natural talent in the promotion of the art, which requires a high degree of cultivation and training. 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.

Migrating to Pakistan in 1948 after the partition of India, Roshan Ara Begum and her husband settled in Lalamusa, a small town 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 and radio programmes. Visual and audio recording-devices have preserved the richness of Roshan Ara's music — which often overflowed with tonal modulations — its sweetness and delicacy of gamaks and her slow progression of raags.[1] Roshan Ara Begum also sang some film songs, mostly under music composers like Anil Biswas, Feroze Nizami and Tassaduq Hussain. She sang for well-known films such as Pehali Nazar (1945), Jugnu (1947), Qismat (1956), Roopmati Baazbahadur (1960) and Neela Parbat (1969).[2]


  • "Dole Rey Mun Holay Holay" Roshan Ara Begum performance on Pakistan Television[4]
  • "Nazaria Tum Hee Say Laagi" A Dadra song by Roshan Ara Begum on YouTube, uploaded 30 Dec 2009, Retrieved 10 Feb 2016
  • "Mein Tau Sey Na Hee Bouloon" [5]

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 recognising her services to Pakistan. Also she was the first female vocalist to be awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz Award (Star of Excellence) by the President of Pakistan.[1]


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


  1. ^ a b c d, Biography of Roshan Ara Begum on website, Retrieved 2 July 2016
  2. ^ a b, Top tracks of Roshan Ara Begum, Retrieved 10 Feb 2016
  3. ^, Roshan Ara Begum on The Friday Times newspaper, Published 7 April 2011, Retrieved 2 July 2016
  4. ^, Roshan Ara Begum on YouTube, Uploaded 26 Sep 2009, Retrieved 10 Feb 2016
  5. ^, A thumri song by Roshan Ara Begum on YouTube, uploaded 31 Jan 2011, Retrieved 10 Feb 2016

External links[edit]