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

Toone but e harjaayi kuchh aisi adaa paayee

Posted on: February 5, 2016

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.

There has been some confusion as to when Begum Akhtar (1914-1974) first sang in a concert. Also, associated with this confusion is when she first recorded the ghazals and thumris for the issue of her 78 rpm discs. Rita Ganguly, one of the senior disciples of Begum Akhtar, in her book ‘ Ae Mohobbat – A Reminiscing Begum Akhtar’ (2008) has mentioned that Begum Akhtar’s first participation in a concert as a singer was at the age of 11 (1925) at Calcutta (now Kolkata) which was arranged for Bihar Flood Relief Fund. However, many of the articles and blogs mention that her first concert was in 1934 for Bihar Earthquake Relief Fund. Some articles even mention that she sang in a concert for the first time at the age of 15.

For the last two years or so, I have been pursuing this issue to ascertain the correct position in this regard. But due to lack of any concrete evidence in support of either of the claims, I had no way to come to any firm conclusion. However, during my research, I came across some circumstantial evidences at least to hold a view that Begum Akhtar’s first participation in a concert as a singer may have been much earlier than in 1934 if not in 1925. My view is based on the following points:

(1). In an interview, probably taken in Kashmir a few months before her death in October 1974, Begum Akhtar had revealed that her family shifted to Calcutta when she was 11 (i.e., in 1925) and she became a disciple of Ustad Ata Mohammed Khan. In the same interview she mentions that for the Bihar Relief Fund concert, all well known vocalists who had agreed to give vocal performances, dropped out at the last moment. Ustad Ata Mohammed Khan persuaded her to sing ghazal, thumri and dadra each to pacify the audience. She told her Ustad crying that she had a stage fright. But her Ustad encouraged her upon which she sang a ghazal (she does not remember as to which ghazal she sang but according the Rita Ganguly, she sang ‘ toone but-e-harjaai kuchh aisi adaa paayi’), for which she got loud applause. That encouraged her to sing more gazals, thumris and dadras and the programme went on for more than 2 hours.

However, on a query in the interview Begum Akhtar tells the interviewer that the concert must have been held in 1936-38. My own take is that she may have mixed up the events she described of her earlier concert with that of her Bihar Earthquake Relief Fund concert held in 1934. I do not think that Akhtaribai, a singing actor by 1934 would have suffered from stage fright in 1934 when she had already worked in a dozen plays and also in a couple of films. So the events she referred to in the interview must be for her earlier concert.

(2). It is mentioned in the book written by Rita Ganguly referred to above that in the Bihar Flood Relief concert where Akhtaribai rendered ghazals, thumris and dadras, the Chief Executive of Megaphone Recording Company and the owner of Corinthian Theatre were present in the audience. Impressed with her singing, Akhtaribai was offered roles in Corinthian Theatre as a singing star. Megaphone offerred to record her ghazals and tumris. She worked in a dozen plays. With the advent of talkies, Akhtaribai shifted to films. She was signed by East India Film Company as a singing actor. Her first film was East India Film Company’s ‘Ek Din Ka Baadshah’ (1933). This was followed by ‘Nal Damyanti’ (1933), ‘Mumtaz Begum’ (1934), ‘Roop Kumari’ (1934), ‘Ameena’ (1934), ‘Jawani Ka Nasha’ (1935), ‘Naseeb Ka Chakkar’ (1936) etc. Though this factor does not substantially prove that the concert was held in 1925, the fact that she started working in theatres followed by her first Hindi film ‘Ek Din Ka Badshah (1933) prove that Bihar Earthquake concert held in 1934 was not her first concert.

(3). It is interesting to note that in the audio clip of the ghazal ‘toone but-e-harjaayi kuchh aisi adaa paayi’ which was sung by Akhtaribai in her first concert purported to be held in 1925, there is an announcement at the end of the song, ‘mera naam Akhtaribai Faizabadi’. This should give us the timeframe of the recording of this ghazal to some extent. In this context, the information in an article by Michael Kinnear in his website came handy for me. Michael Kinnear has done a lot of research on the subject of sound recordings especially in India and other Asian countries.

The system of the announcement of the name of the singer after the end of the song was required as those days the wax masters of the recorded songs were sent to Germany for pressing the discs. This would help the technicians make the label on the discs with the name of the singers. The system was discontinued by The Gramophone Company Ltd. (HMV) in 1908 when their record pressing plant was commissioned in Sealdah (Calcutta). However, other gramophone recording company must have followed the system of the announcement of the names as most of them continued to send the wax masters abroad for pressing of discs. In May 1929, HMV shifted its record pressing plant to Dum Dum where it had created a higher capacity for record pressing. During this time, they entered into agreements with other gramophone records companies in India such as Megaphone Records and Hindustan Records under which HMV would undertake pressing their records in its plant with labels of the respective record companies. This means that there was no need to announce the name of the singers at the end of the songs for Megaphone Records.

Since Akhtaribai was under contract with Megaphone Records, it is apparent that the ghazal mentioned earlier may have been pressed abroad on or before 1928 which means that Akhtaribai must have sung this ghazal in a concert held on or before 1928.

With these circumstantial evidences, it can be concluded that Akhtaribai’s first concert was not the one held in 1934 for Bihar Earthquake Relief Fund but much earlier. At the same time, I can not say for sure that her first concert was in 1925.

This gives me an opportunity to present the Non filmy ghazal ‘toone but-e-harjaayi’ (1930) sung by Begum Akhtar. The names of the ghazal writer as well as the composer is not known.

The ghazal is rendered in a classical style with aalaps and taans. Listeners may also notice that there is no ‘crack’ in the voice of Begum Akhtar which in her later years became the hallmark in her singing.


Song-Toone but e harjaayi kuchh aisi adaa paayi(Begam Akhtar NFS)(1930) Singer-Begam Akhtar,


aaa aaa aaa
toone but-e-harjaayi…eeee aaa
kuchh aisi adaa paayi
taqtaa hai teri soorat
har ek tamaashaayi
haan haan
taqtaa hai teri soorat
har ek tamaashaayi

pehle se na sochaa thhaa…aaaaa
haaa aaa
anjaam mohabbat kaa aa
pehle se na sochaa thhaa
anjaam mohabbat kaa
tab hosh mein aayen hain
jab jaan pe ban aayi
haan haan
tab hosh mein aayen hain
jab jaan pe

jee bhar gaya duniya…aaaaa
duniya…aa se ae ae ae ae
haaa aaa
aa aa
jee bhar gaya duniya..aa se
ab dil mein ye hasrat hai
haan haan
main hoon ya tera jalwaa
aur wo sahe(?) tanhaayi
haan haan
main hoon yatera jalwaa
aur wo sahe(?) tanhaayi

taanon se hai…ai haaan aaaa
taanon se hai dil zakhmi eeee
zakhmon se jigar khoon hai
taanon se hai dil zakhmi eeeee
zakhmon se jigar khoon hai
lo dil ke lagaane ki
hamne ye sazaa paayi
haan haan
lo dil ke lagaane ki
hamne ye sazaa paayi
toone but-e-harjaa….aayi

4 Responses to "Toone but e harjaayi kuchh aisi adaa paayee"

Sada Anand bhai,
Aapne subh subhe dil garden garden kar diya. Aapne apna naam sarthak kiya.
Btw, I would have belived Ritaben Ganguli’s report, blind-foldedly any time, but YOU researchers get joy in confirming the facts, of course, a very good practice.
When are you phirse returning again, once more, to India that is Bharat.



main hoon ya tera jalwaa
aur gosha e tanhaayi



Thanks for the correction. It makes sense in the verse.
gosha-e-tanhaayi= secluded corner.


Sadanand sir Amazing write up sir thank you


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