Rashmi Talwar

‘Kashmir Images’ reference to be a part of singer Talat Mahmood’s Biography

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Amritsar: Sahar Zaman, TEDx speaker, award-winning TV journalist- anchor, and curator of music platform Jashn-e-Talat, is currently penning the biography of her grand-uncle Talat Mahmood.

The yesteryears singer with a golden voice, the inimitable Talat Mahmood was referred to in an article carried by “Kashmir Images” on 15th August 2022 Titled –”Lady who saw the first Indian PM crying copious tears …” by Rashmi Talwar, the article was in the sequential stream of articles celebrating 75-years of India’s Independence, from British rule.

The newspaper write-up was an eyewitness account of nonagenarian Reena Chhibber Varma (90), who watched the momentous occasion of the presence of four of India’s greatest singers on stage during the celebration of the Republic Day Cultural program in the year 1963. “It was held only a few months after India’s debacle in the Sino-India war of 1962, just after the Republic Day parade. The culture fare had become a ritual of a newly carved free nation, where the nation’s top performing artists were invited for an evening of performances, for foreign dignitaries and leading personalities of the nation, in an auditorium, in close proximity to the Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi.”

Among the greats that Reena witnessed that day, were Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi, Mahendra Kapoor, and Talat Mahmood. “Talat Mahmood then sang – ‘Hungama’e gumm se tang aa kar…’ Talat was my favourite, although I am a singer, Talat’s style was hard to replicate. I still am an ardent fan of Talat’s songs,” adds Reena, who claimed to have met Talat a number of times and to date even has his framed photograph hanging in her home in Pune.

This historic moment of January 1963 is known for the patriotic song– “Ae Mere Watan Ke Logo… Zara Aankh Mei Bhar Lo Pani” sung by Lata Mangeshkar,  which drove the first Indian PM Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru to tears, amidst the public; so pained was he, at the loss of India and its soldiers in the war with China. “The wounds of war and loss were too raw and the song was extremely moving,” described Reena, who recalled that the entire stadium was in tears along with PM Nehru. “It was a heartrending spectacle of raw pain.”

Referring to this article which she found on the internet, Sahar wrote to this writer – “I am writing to you with reference to Mrs. Reena Chhibber. I have read some delightful pieces written about her in Kashmir Images Newspaper”. In one of them, she mentions the Republic Day cultural show of 1963, where great singers -Lata Mangeshkar, Talat Mahmood, and Mohammed Rafi performed. I am currently writing my grand-uncle Talat Mahmood’s biography.

On this writer’s request to carry the reference of the newspaper’s article as a source for one of the most remarkable incidents in India’s nascent history, where her uncle Talat Mahmood too sang in front of the first PM of the country, in her book – Sahar responded: “Absolutely! I have mentioned your publication (Kashmir Images) because you were a Godsent.”

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