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

Ab kahaan basera apna

Posted on: March 31, 2017

This article is written by Arunkumar Deshmukh, 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.

Today’s song is from film Pardesi-41. This was a Ranjit Movietone film, directed by Chaturbhuj Doshi and music by Khemchand Prakash.

Pardesi seems to be a popular Title for film producers Films with Pardesi title were produced in 1941, 1957, 1970 and 1993. Pardes was made in 1950 and 1997. Pardesi as a prefix to film titles were for 7 films. Pardesi-41 was a significant film for actress,singer Khursheed, because with this film, she became famous and came to be recognised as a singer. Earlier, she had worked in many films and also had sung songs, but Pardesi-41 music gave her such a turn in life that Chandulal Shah-the owner of Ranjit- decided to make her Saigal’s Heroine, whenever he would make a film with that king of melody. He was so much impressed with her singing style.

So, when in the early 40s, the Calcutta giant New Theatres was crumbling and major actors from its stable were leaving for Bombay, Ranjit offered Saigal 1 lakh rupees each for his 2 films. Accordingly Bhakta Surdas was made in 1942 and Tansen was made i 1943. Gyan Dutt was MD for Bhakta Surdas and Khemchand Prakash was for Tansen, but for both films Chandulal made Khursheed the Heroine. Khursheed sang almost same number of songs as Saigal in both films. Her songs were equally popular . ‘Panchhi bawra’ from Bhakta Surdas-42 and Ghata ghanghor ghor from Tansen became iconic songs.

Here is an edited interview of Khursheed, taken in 1992, by Pakistani journalist, Navid Rasheed (Thanks to Cineplot)..

” Khursheed Bano was born as Irshad Begum in Lahore, on 14th April 1914. As a child she resided in the Bhatti Gate area next to Allama Iqbal’s house. The two families were pretty close. Khursheed was a child then. There was no ambition of joining the showbiz bandwagon then and it was by chance that led her to this arena.

Khursheed was very still young when she became an actress in the early 30’s. The era of the silent movies had already ended with the release of Alam Ara in 1931 and the Indian film industry was going through a revolution. What set her apart from other heroines were her attractive face and certain flamboyance owing to which she made her presence felt. And then she was very good actress who could be melodramatic and happy-go-lucky with equal ease.

Each star then was required to playback for themselves and Khursheed was lucky to have a good voice. Hence started the brilliant era of some timeless classical and exemplary numbers like “panchi baawara chaand sey preet lagaaye”.

The graceful and decent actress was luckier to secure some of the best films including Sitara, Shaadi, Musafir, Pardesi, Bhagat Surdas, Dekha Jaye Ga, Shehanshah-E-Babar and Tansen. Pardesi had a very famous soundtrack comprising of memorable numbers by the late actress. In Tansen she played the protagonist Tani with Kundan Lal Saigal as Tansen. Together they made indelible performances and the role took her to great heights. She even transcended Saigal with her strong performances and pretty looks and her fans started calling her Tani after that.

Her leading men in those days apart from Saigal were Motilal, Ishwar Lal, Nazeer and Sadiq Ali. She made a successful pair with Motilal the most. Her female contemporaries included actresses of caliber like Kanan Bala, Devika Rani, Leela Chitnis, Suraiya, Swaranlata and Noor Jehan. The last three were her juniors.

Khursheed said that there was no such thing as rivalry in those days and actresses worked in close coordination. Abusing, backbiting or gossiping was not amongst their traits. Even the male stars with whom she worked treated her with great respect and there were no scandals.

Though she was an accomplished singer, acting remained her forte and first love. “Singing was a requirement to be a heroine in those days”, she said, “and even heroines with not too good voices were forced to sing if they were to act. But the composers were so good that they managed to get the best out of them then. Each song was recorded after several rehearsals. But I was an actress first and singing was just to complement that.”

Khursheed was not too happy with the way films shaped up in the years to come. So much so that she never wanted to see films anymore. In the interview she expressed her displeasure, “In spite of the resources and much higher budget, there is not a single film maker in the entire sub continent who could make a film even half as good as the films made in my era. Ours were simple films but treated well and had strong content. Plus the hard work and honesty of each unit member reflected in the entire film. This thing is missing now. A film is not only about technique, rather the issue, sensitivity and sincere dedication too.”

Following partition in 1947, Khursheed opted to move to Pakistan. She worked in two Pakistani films too – Mandi and Fankar. But then she decided to quit and tied the knot with a Karachi – based businessman Yousaf Bhai Mian. They had one daughter who lived in the US when the interview was conducted. She then concentrated on her marriage alone and emerged equally successful on the home front as much as she was in films. She was happy that she quit films before their standards declined . ”

Khursheed died on 18-4-2001 at Lahore.

Khursheed bano sang about 170 songs in about 40 films in India. her life and career would have been like any other actor/singer, but for the controversy of her initiation into films as ” SHEHLA ” ( HFGK writes this name as SHAILA ) at Calcutta between 1931 and 1935. First let us see what is generally said about her in this connection..

” Khursheed Bano started her film career as Shehla in the silent film “Eye For An Eye” (1931) the year when the first talkie film (Alamara) of the sub-continent was released.Some of her films that were released during these phase were Laila Majnu, and Shakuntla ,Muflis Ashiq,Hathili dulhan,Chjatra Bakavli,Aankh ka Nasha,Nakli Doctor and Dil Jaani. ”

for a long time, it was believed to be true and most of her Biographies mention this. However, recent research by the famous Film and Songs Historian, Shri Kamalakar ji Pasupuleti ji has proved,with irrefutable proof,that this is not true and that both Khursheed and Shehla were two different persons. Kamalakar ji has published an article on his Blog giving this information. With his kind permission, I reproduce herewith, an edited version of this article,for our readers’ benefit.

” Miss Shehla was one of the earliest actresses of the Hindustani stage and screen . She is often mistaken for veteran actress and singer Khursheed . Needless to say they both are entirely different persons born in different cities hundreds of miles apart .
The only theater company Shehla worked for was Madan Theaters of Calcutta. Her career commenced in 1928 as a stage actress and ended after seven years in 1935 .

Her real name was Shamsunnisa . She belonged to a good Muslim family of Kanpur . She was educated in Lucknow . Like her mother she wished to be a good house wife . She was an average looking girl and had no knowledge of dancing and singing . After her father’s death her mother got her married to a youth who was working on stage for Madan theatrical Co , After marriage her husband started pressurizing her to work on the stage .Shahla was unwilling as she always thought singing and dancing on stage is not meant for a domestic wife . She was unable to convince her husband , so she joined the Madan theaters unwillingly . After joining the theater her husband deserted her . Poor and helpless Shehla was left with no option but to earn her living through acting . She kept on roaming where ever she was made to act . She acted in many stage dramas . Her first role in talkie was Laila Majnu – 1931 in which she performed a good dance , later in the same year she acted inShakuntala . She was given major roles in Hatheli Dulhan & Chatra Bakavali . She played the lead role of a heroine in Muflis Aashiq -1932 and Naqli Doctor – 1933 and established herself as a heroine . Her later film was Diljaani – 1935 . She did not get much recognition as a singer . She spoke chaste Urdu and lead a simple life .

Filmi Duniya a monthly magazine in Urdu of 1930’s published from Hyderabad Deccan updates in a note that Shehla fell gravely ill in 1934 . Her neighbor a petty businessman took care of her. On her recovery they got married . Shehla proved lucky for him as his business flourished .

After completing her assignment at Madan theaters the couple moved over to Lucknow . Shehla was a devotee Hazrat Waris Ali Shah of Deva Sherief , Barabanki .
Movies of Shehla

1931 Laila Majnu – Mst Nissar , Kajjan
1931 Shakuntala – Mst Nissar , Kajjan
1932 Muflis Ashaq – Vittaldas , Mukhtar Begum
1932 Hathili Dulhan- Abbas , Patience Cooper , Mukhtar Begum
1932 Chatra Bakavali – Mst Nissar , Kajjan , Mukhtar Begum
1933 Aankh Ka Nasha – Cawasji , Kajjan & Laxmi
1933 Nakli Doctor – Surajram , Patience C , Miss Badami
1935 Diljaani – Mst Fida Hussain , Leelavati ”

There are some points which emphasize that these are two different artistes.

1. While as per the HFGK also the last film of Shehla (or Shaila) was Diljani in Calcutta. It was produced by Bharat laxmi pictures of Calcutta. Khursheed is also credited with acting in the FIRST Punjabi Talkie-ISHQ-E-PUNJAB OR MIRZA SAHIBAN, made by Hindmata Cinetone in 1935 and also ‘ Swarg ki seedhi ‘ in 1935 itself. This film was made at Lahore by National Movietone.
Now can one artiste do one film at Calcutta and 2 films at Lahore at the same time ?

2. Secondly, In the above interview of Khursheed, she never mentioned about working as Shehla in Calcutta.

3. Thirdly, there are No songs by Shehla in any of her films at Calcutta. It is NOT possible if she was Khursheed.

Thus it is proved beyond doubt that Khursheed was NOT Shehla.
Thank you Shri Kamalakar ji, for this correction of History.

If you take a look at the starcast of film Pardesi-41, along with Motilal, Khursheed and Snehprabha, you will find the name of an actor E.Billimoria. This name may be totally unknown to most readers, because he was a Hero in the Silent era and early films of Talkie era. He and his brother D. Billimoria were quite famous names in those times. Hindi cinema has seen many sibling pairs as Actors and Actresses, but Billimoria brothers were the first and the unique pair of brothers, even before Prithviraj and Trilok Kapoor.

E.(Eddie or Adi) Billimoria ( 1900-1981) came into film acting by accident. At the age of 13 years, he ran away to Bombay ,from Billimoria-his birth place , to become a Fireman in Railways and not getting it, ended up becoming a Doorkeeper in a Poona Cinema house. Here he also learnt operating cine projector. With this knowledge, he became a Salesman of Cine projectors, in a Bombay company.

One day, he went to meet his younger brother D.Billimoria ( Dinshaw Billimoria), who had joined film industry as an actor, in a studio. Both brothers, being Parsis, looked similar. The make up man of that studio mistook E. for D. Billimoria and without caring for his protests,did his make up. What is more, the director immediately gave him a role in that silent movie,”Punjab Mail”-1929 too. Eddie enjoyed this confusion and did what was told. Thus he entered the cinema world. His first film as a Hero was Raj Ramani. He did 7 silent films with Imperial and 10 with Ranjit studios. At Imperial, he met a young man Prithviraj Kapoor, who worked as an extra there. After the arrival of Talkie films, Eddie was Hero in 32 Ranjit films. With actress Madhuri alone he did 15 films. He was called Dev Anand of Stunt films. He was the first Cowboy Hero of India.

After 1938, he did character roles and after 1953,as an extra in any film to survive. In old age he did service in a Fridge and A.C. shop. E.Billimoria died on 18-2-1981 in his own flat in kemps corner,Bombay. He had worked in 73 films, directed 1 film,-Sone ki chidiya-48. He even sang 4 songs in 4 films, as per HFGK. His first Talkie film was Radha Rani or Divine lady-1932 and the last film was Honeymoon-73.( Thanks for some information taken from the book,”Inhe na bhulana” by Shri Harish Raghuwanshi ji )

The story of film Pardesi-41 was-

The film PARDESI-1941,opens with a scene of Earthquake which caused damage.The bungalow of Diwan Bahadur Kishanlal also gets demolished and the sole inhabitants,Mala(Snehprabha) and Premnath(Motilal) who are brother-sisters are trapped.Mala is saved but Premnath is buried deep and can not be saved.Premnath was due to marry Nila(Nandini).Nila also loses all her kins and Mala and Nila start new life together. Nila is loved by Shantibabu(Bilimoria) who is an artist. One day Shantibabu shows one of his portraits to these 2 girls.The portrait is of a beggar and Mala recognises the beggar as her brother Premnath. They all trace the beggar Mohan(Motilal again), but Mohan does not agree to being premnath.He says he had no sister.Mohan stays with Mira(Khurshid) a street singer and they are in love.

When mala does not accept the reality, she is admitted to a hospital for treatment,from where she escapes and comes to Mira-Mohan.They all start living together.Mala convinces Mira that Mohan IS premnath.A psychiatrist cofirms Mohan as a case of Amnesia and advises an operation.Mala,Mira and their friends collect money.The operation takes place and Mohan remembers that he is Premnath and Mala is his sister. But now he loves Mira.

Finally, Mira marries Mohan and Nila marries Shantibabu.

Here is the melodious song by Khursheed in Pardesi-41, under the baton of Khemchand Prakash- The melody magician of the 40s…..

Song-Ab kahaan basera apna (Pardesi)(1941) Singer-Khursheed Bano, Lyrics-D N Madhok, MD-Khemchand Prakash


toot gayi ee ee
daali ee ee ee
bchhad gaye ??

ab kahaan basera apna
ab kahaan basera apna
ab kahaan basera apna
ab kahaan basera apna
ab kahaan basera apna
ab kahaan basera apna

chaand ghira badli mein
chaand ghira badli mein
taare toot gaye
chaand ghira badli mein
taare toot gaye
kathhin dagariya
pag doley
kathhin dagariya
pag doley
mere saathhi chhoot gaye
ae ae
mere saathhi chhoot gaye
ae ae ae ae
kahaan basera apna

na aankh hoti
na koi chubhhta
na aankh hoti
na koi chubhhta
na ranj hote
na pyaar hote
na ranj hote
na pyaar hote
kasam tumhaari
na tum pe marte
na dil lagaate
na ?? hote

chaand ghira badli mein
taare toot gaye
chaand ghira badli mein
taare toot gaye
kathhin dagariya
pag doley
kathhin dagariya
pag doley
mere saathhi chhoot gaye
ae ae
mere saathhi chhoot gaye
ae ae ae ae
kahaan basera apna
ab kahaan basera apna

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This blog discusses Bollywood songs of yesteryears. Every song has a brief description, followed by a video link, and complete lyrics of the song.

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