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

Mere ham-nafas mujhe dost ban kar daga na de

Posted on: November 14, 2015

This article is written by Sadanand Kamath, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a contributor to this blog. This article is meant to be posted in If this article appears in sites like and etc then it is piracy of the copyright content of and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

main dhoondhta hoon jise wo jahaan nahin milta
nayi zameen naya aasmaan nahin milta

Begum Akhtar recorded this ghazal written by Kaifi Azmi (at the age of 11) for Doordarshan just a few days before she left for heavenly abode on October 30, 1974. And this turned out to be her last recording for Doordarshan.

Again, a few days before her death, Begum Akhtar rendered one of the famous ghazal written by Hafeez Hoshiyarpuri in a private concert in Delhi. The ghazal she rendered was:

mohabbat karne waale kam na honge
teri mahfil mein lekin ham na honge

Whether these two ghazals she rendered were her way of telling fans and audience the approaching end to her life on the planet earth is anybody’s guess. But it appears that she had a premonition about her death if one goes by the fact that she had already selected her final resting place in Lucknow.

Begum Akhtar, in her inimitable voice and style, regaled her fans and audience with ghazals, dadras and thumris for nearly four decades. Though there were a few ghazal singers like Mukhtar Begum, Mallika Pukhraj who were contemporaries of Begum Akhtar, they sang in private concerts and within the recording rooms in their early carriers. One may therefore say that Begum Akhtar was virtually the first female ghazal singer who brought the ghazal singing within the four walls of royal courts and private concerts to the public at large. It is said that Begum Akhtar sang ghazals, dadras and thumri the best in front of her audience. She always felt that her best was a shade lower when she was recording in the All India Radio and the recording studios. Her Doordarshan live recordings were always with the audience to give her the feel that she was singing for an audience for a two way communication in terms of expressions. Her singing style was such that she translated the implicit thought process of the ghazal the poets to the audience without requiring the audience the proficiency in Urdu.

There comes a time in the lives of artists and performers when, in their own assessment, they feel that something is lacking in their performances even though they are on the top of their carriers. Take, for instance, the case of Mohammed Rafi who, in his own assessment, felt that his voice needed some polishing at a time when he was the top playback singer of Hindi film industry. Neither his music directors nor his fans had any issue with his voice. Nonetheless, he took the services of music director Khaiyyam Saab to correct his voice by doing some rigorous rehearsals. In this process, he recorded some non-filmy ghazals and devotional songs. The end result was that almost all of his non-filmy ghazals and devotional songs became very popular.

It is a great virtue in a performer who is able to critically assess his own shortcomings notwithstanding the fact that he was on the top of his carrier and his fans had no complain.

Begum Akhtar seems to have a similar experience in the later part of her singing career. Sometime in 1970-71, she put a condition to HMV that she would record fresh ghazals for them only if they are composed by Khaiyyam Saab. From whatever I read in her biographies and articles, there is no explicit mention of her needing voice improvement. But her two comments mentioned in one of her biographies give some indication in that direction. First, it was stated that Begum Akhtar was impressed by Khaiyyam Saab’s work on Mohammed Rafi in recording ghazals and devotional songs. Second, after she recorded the ghazals under Khaiyyam Saab and heard them in HMV studio, she was overwhelmed and remarked “Khaiyyam Saab, aapne meri aawaaz ko jawaan bana diya”. ‘In the age of 50s, you have made my voice of a girl in the 20s’.

There is an interesting anecdote as to how Khaiyyam Saab got the assignment to compose ghazals for Begum Akhtar. Rita Ganguly, one of Begum Akhtar’s senior disciples, had a personal interview with Khaiyyam Saab, which is available in her book ‘Ae Mohabbat……(2008) in details. I am giving below only a gist of his interview about his assignment to compose ghazals for Begum Akhtar.

One fine morning, Khayyam Saab got a telephonic call from Mr Dubey of HMV that Begum Sahiba was in his office and she would record her new ghazals only if he composed them. At first, he was thrilled but then he lost his nerve. How could he compose the ghazals for the great Begum Akhtar who was a top class singer of Hindustani semi-classical music? He thought probably, Dubey was pulling his leg. He did not respond.

After about 4 months, Khaiyyam Saab again got a call from Dubey saying that Begum Sahiba was coming to Bombay (Mumbai) and he should keep his compositions ready. In the next 15 days or so, he received a call from Dubey that Begum Akhtar was in his office and she would like to speak to him. The very idea of talking to her over the phone made him nervous. She asked as to whether he had composed the tunes. Expressing regret for not composing tunes, he explained to her that he did not think that he was worthy enough to compose ghazals for her. Begum replied that in that case she would not record new ghazals for HMV. Hearing her decision, he and Jagjit Kaur rushed to HMV office and requested Begum Sahiba to give him a list of 20 ghazals she liked out of which he would initially compose 6 ghazals.

After some days, Begum Sahiba came to Bombay and stayed in a hotel at Marine Drive. He went with Jagjit Kaur in the evening to start the rehearsals for the ghazals he composed. As he reached near her hotel room, he saw her sitting in a sofa singing a song while Madan Mohan sitting on the floor was playing the harmonium. As soon as she saw Khaiyyam Saab, she took him to another room and told him that there would be no rehearsal that evening as Madan Mohan was around. She also told him that this assignment should not be known to anyone until the records hit the market.

Next day, Begum Sahiba came to Khaiyyam Saab’s house and rehearsed the ghazals after which she went back to her hotel and continued rehearsal. The first ghazal was recorded in one take. Finally, the day came when she came to HMV studio to hear her recorded ghazals. After she heard all her ghazals, Begum Sahiba was in tears as she said to him “Khaiyyam Saab, I have been recording the ghazals since the age of 11. At the age of 50s, you have made my voice sound like that of a girl in the 20s”.

Khaiyyam Saab composed 18 ghazals for Begum Akhtar. He considers her appreciation of his work as his greatest award among other awards he got during his musical journey.

The foregoing anecdote throws light on the other aspect of Begum Akhtar’s personality. She was not only Mallika-e-Ghazal, she also had a charismatic personality which made the people she dealt with to readily obey her wishes . There are some more anecdotes and trivia reflecting this side of her personality. But these will have to wait for some other time as the article would become lengthy. Suffice to say that she was a ‘Mallika’ in a true sense in that she reigned over her close friends, acquaintances and her fans.

I have selected one of her popular ghazals out of 18 ghazals composed by Khaiyyam Saab for her. The ghazal is ‘mere hum-nafas mere hum-nawaa mujhe dost banke dagha na de’ written by Shakeel Badayuni. This ghazal was first issued by HMV on LP No.ECSD 2486 in 1971.

It is interesting to note that after Begum Akhtar recorded Shakeel Badayuni’s ghazal ae mohabbat tere anjaam pe rona aaya in early 50s, there was a gap of about 15 years when the ghazal under discussion was recorded along with two other ghazals of Shakeel Badayuni. I was under the impression that with Shakeel Badayuni getting busy with filmy assignments, he may not have found time to write ghazals for Begum Akhtar. However, the biography of Begum Akhtar referred to above, reveals that Shakeel Badayuni and Begum Akhtar had arguments over some muslim religious practices which offended her. Though Shakeel Badayuni periodically sent her his new ghazals for her consideration for recording, she did not record any of his fresh ghazals until 1971. However, she continued to sing his first ghazal mentioned above in the concerts.

The ghazal under discussion also became very popular. However, Shakeel Badayuni was not there to witness the popularity of his ghazal as he had passed away on April 20, 1970.

This ghazal has also been rendered by stalwarts like Shobha Gurtu, Jagjit Singh, Farida Khanum, Pandit Ajay Pohankar, Munni Begum etc and they are all very good renditions. In fact, all these artists have rendered it in a more elaborate manner than Begum Akhtar. But it is pathos in the rendition of Begum Akhtar which appealed to me more than that sung by other stalwarts mentioned above.


Song-Mere ham nafas mujhe dost ban kar daga na de (Begam Akhtar NFS)(1971) Singer-Begam Akhtar, Lyrics-Shakeel Badayuni, MD-Khayyaam


aaa aaa aaa aa
mere hum-nafas
mere hum-nawa
mujhe dost ban ke daghaa na de ae
mere hum-nafas
mere hum-nawa
mujhe dost ban ke daghaa na de
main hoon dard-e-ishq se jaan ba-lab
mujhe zindagi ki duaa na de
main hoon dard-e-ishq se jaan ba-lab
mujhe zindagi ki duaa na de
mere hum-nafas

mere daagh-e-dil se hai raushni ee ee
isi raushni se hai zindagi ee ee ee
mujhe dar hai ae mere chaaraagar
ye charaag tu hi bujhaa na de
mujhe dar hai ae mere chaaraagar
ye charaag tu hi bujhaa na de
mere hum-nafas

mujhe ae chhod de mere haal par
teraa kyaa bharosa hai chaaraagar
a a a a
ye teri nawaazish-e-mukhtsar
mera dard aur badaa na de
mere hum-nafas
mere hum-nawa
mujhe dost ban ke daghaa na de
mere hum-nafas

mera azm itnaa baland hai
ke paraaye sholon kaa dar nahin ee ee
mera azm itnaa baland hai
ke paraaye sholon kaa dar nahin
mujhe khauf aatish-e-gul se hai
ye kahin chaman ko jalaa na de
mere hum-nafas mere hum-nawa
mere hum-nafas

wo uthhe hain leke khum-o-suboo
arre o ‘Shakeel’ kahaan hai tu
tera jaam lene ko bazm mein
koi aur haath badhhaa na de
mere hum-nafas mere hum-nawa
mujhe dost banke dagha na de
main hoon dard-e-ishq se jaan ba-lab
mujhe zindagi ki dua na de..eee

Meanings of some Urdu words used in the ghazal

Hum-nafas=fellow companion speaking in the same breath.
Hum-nawa=one speaking in unison, in the same voice.
In this ghazal, these two words have been used in the context of a very close friend.

Dard-e-ishq= pain of love.
Jaan ba-lab=Life on lips, close to death.
Chaaraagar=healer, physician.
Nawaazish-e-mukhtasar= short spell of kindness or favour.
Azm=determination, resolution.
Baland (or Bulund)= high, strong.
Atish-e-gul= flame of flower.
Bazm=assembly, gathering.
Khum-o-suboo=wine barrel and goblet.

3 Responses to "Mere ham-nafas mujhe dost ban kar daga na de"

Aapke articals sada aanand hi dete hai. Aapne apna naam saarthak kiya.
Btw, I had attended Begum Sahiba’s last but one public program in Surat and was planning to go to Amdawad for her program there. Unfortunately due to some circumstances, I had to cancel my visit there. Being an ardent fan, I never missed her programs in Mumbai too. I remember to have rushed to ‘Rythem House’ to buy the LP of her Gazals by Khaiyyam and gathered ‘Birds of same feathers’ the next Saturday at my home and repeatedly played that LP till early morning.
Thanks for the melodious post.


An excellent and absorbing post.. Thanks


Sadanand ji

Thanks for a wonderful reminder of this enchanting ghazal, and a wonderful article Begum Akhtar.



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