Atul’s Song A Day- A choice collection of Hindi Film & Non-Film Songs

Ghabra ke jo ham sar ko

Posted on: March 20, 2012

This article is written by Sadanand Kamath, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a regular contributor to this blog.

Rajkumari Dubey (1924 – 20/03/2000), popularly known as Rajkumari, was one of the earliest playback singers who dominated playback singing in the 40s. During my younger days, I used to identify her with a popular song ‘sun bairi balam sach bol re’ from the film BAAWRE NAIN (1952). It was her interview on Doordarshan in the 80s and some other video clips of her performances that made me to search for more of her songs. I found that she was not only an accomplished singer but also a ‘zinda dil’ (lively) person who zest for life was not dampened by her adverse financial condition in her later life.

Rajkumari was born in Banaras (Varanasi) in 1924. She started her career as a stage artist. It was during one of her stage performances in Bombay that Vijay Bhatt and Shankar Bhatt of Prakash Pictures spotted her. They were looking for a female artist to work in their bilingual film. Impressed with her voice, they offered her roles in their films. They persuaded her by telling her that working in theatre would spoil her voice. In those days, there were no mikes and artists had to deliver their dialogues in high pitch in order to be audible to the audience. She agreed to join Prakash Pictures as an employee to work in their films as an actor-singer.

She acted in many films mostly in the 30s but after marriage, she quit Prakash Pictures and film acting as she had got ‘fed up with watching her figure’. Thereafter she concentrated only on playback singing. As per her own admission, she was not a trained singer as she did not get the opportunity to learn music. Fortunately for her, playback system in Hindi films had just begun and she became a leading light among playback singers of the day alongwith playback singers like Amirbai Karnataki, Zohrabai Ambalewali and Shamshad Begum. she was at her most active in the 40s, when she sang under most of the music directors of that time.

With the emergence of a new generation of playback singers like Lata Mangeshkar, Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhonsle in early 50s, Rajkumari was slowly relegated to the background along with some of her contemporary singers. By mid-50s, she was almost out of work.

Some of her popular songs are :

‘sar pe kadamb ki chhaiyaan’ with K L Saigal from BHAKTA SURDAS(1942)

‘ghabraa ke jo ham sar ko’ from MAHAL (1949)

‘sun bairi balam sachh bol re’ from BAAWRE NAIN (1950)

‘zindagi badli mohabbat kaa majaa aane lagaa’ with Lata Mangeshkar from ANHONEE(1952)

‘koi kis tarah raz-e-ulfat chhupaaye’ from HALCHAL (1951)

‘nazarron mein samaane se’ from HYDERABD KI NAAZNEEN (1952)

‘jab se pi sang nainaa laage’ from AASMAAN (1952)

I must have missed many of her songs, especially of the 40s, which I have yet to listen.

With no assignments forthcoming for her as a playback singer in later years, she had to take up singing in the chorus to earn her livelihood. It was music director Naushad who spotted her in a group of chorus singers at the time of recording a song for ‘Pakeezaa’ (1971). Considering her stature as one of the top playback singers of 40s, Naushad withdrew her from the chorus and gave her a couple of solo songs for Pakeezaa, one of which was ‘nazariyaa ki maari’. Unfortunately, these songs were used in the movie as the background song. Her last song as a playback singer was in ‘Kitaab’ (1977), a bhajan ‘hari din to bitaa shyaam’ under the baton of R D Burman. Rajkumari died in Mumbai on March 20, 2000.

I recall seeing her in the final episode of a TV programme ‘SA RE GA MA PA’ which was telecast some time in 1998. Not only did she sing a few lines of her popular songs almost like the original ones, she also had lively conversations with maestro Anil Biswas. I am sure those who have not seen this video clip would enjoy watching it. This video clip also brings back memories of the golden era of Hindi film songs with a galaxy of golden era maestros viz. Anil Biswas, Naushad, Khayyam, O P Nayyar and Kalyanji-Anandji present in it.

As a tribute to Rajkumari, I have chosen a song which she used to sing quite often in her live performances on popular demands from the audience. The song is the immortal ‘ghabraa ke jo sar ko takaraayen to achchhaa ho’ from the film MAHAL (1949). The song was written by Nakshab and set to music by the legendry music director Khemchand Prakash. The song is picturised on Vijaylaxmi. Rajkumari’s soulful singing has brought to the fore the pathos embedded in the lyrics and therefore there was no need for additional support by way of elaborate orchestration to convey the same. I have also observed that she gave soulful renditions of this song in public fora even in her old age. In the TV programme ‘SA RE GA MA PA’ which I referred earlier, she said that she found it a strange song to render. Perhaps this song reminded her of her living conditions in the later part of her life.

Song-Ghabra ke jo ham sar ko (Mahal)(1949) Singer-Rajkumari, Lyrics-Nakshab, MD-Khemchand Prakash


ghabaraa ke jo ham sar ko
takraayen to achchhaa ho
ghabraa ke jo ham sar ko
takraayen to achchhaa ho
is jeene mein sau dukh hain
is jeene mein sau dukh hain
mar jaayen to achchhaa ho
mar jaayen to achchhaa ho
ghabraa ke jo ham sar ko
takraayen to achchhaa ho

dil doobne kaa manzar
wo bhi to zaraa dekhen
dil doobne kaa manzar
wo bhi to zaraa dekhen
aansoo meri aankhon mein
aansoo meri aankhon mein
bhar aayen to achchhaa ho
ghabraa ke jo ham sar ko
takaraayen to achchhaa ho

jo ham pe guzarni hai
jo ham pe guzarni hai
ik baar guzar jaaye
jo ham pe guzarni hai
ik baar guzar jaaye
wo kitne sitamgar hain
wo kitne sitamgar hain
khul jaayen to achchhaa ho
ghabraa ke jo ham sar ko
takaraayen to achchhaa ho


3 Responses to "Ghabra ke jo ham sar ko"

Kamath ji,
Thank you for writing a good article on a forgotten actor/singer.
Although most of the information is right,there are some more facts about Rajkumari,as follows.
Rajkumari came to Bombay in 1932 and acted as a child artist in Radhe shyam(Julm-e-kans) and Afgaan Abla-1934,before she joined Prakash films as a Heroine in NAI DUNIYA-1934(Sacred scandal).In Gujarathi,this was titled as Sansar leela.The Music director was Lallubhai Nayak.
She worked in Prakash till 1936,in Sagar movietone till 38,in Ranjit till 40,inBombay Talkies till 42 and in Saraswati Cinetone till 1943,after which she stopped acting.Her last film was Hunterwali ki Beti-1943.
Her last days were in abject poverty and she breathed her last in a Municipal Hospital in Mumbai,penniless.she is survived by a son.

Thanks for additional information on Rajkumari Dubey.
As I mentioned, she said in the TV programme referred to above about this song.

‘Kyaa kahoon. Ye ek ajeeb (strange) gaana hai’.

I think what she meant was that it is a dreadful song. In the background of spending her last few years in abject poverty, I can see what was ‘ajeeb’ in this song. Some lines from this song:

‘is jeene mein sau dukh hain
mar jaayen to achchhaa ho’

‘jo ham pe guzarni hai
ik baar guzar jaaye’

sad to know the woeful story of one of the best singers in the Industry. I saw her once in a show organised in her honor in New Delhi. I had no idea of the misery which had surrounded her by then. My salutations to her and also to ;you.

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