Talat Mahmood
Born(1924-02-24)24 February 1924
Lucknow, United Provinces, British India
Died9 May 1998(1998-05-09) (aged 74)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Other namesThe King of Ghazals, also Shahenshah-e-Ghazal
  • Singer
  • actor
Years active1939–1986
Known forBollywood Ghazals,
Playback singing
AwardsPadma Bhushan Award by the Indian government in 1992
WebsiteOfficial website

Talat Mahmood (24 February 1924 – 9 May 1998) was an Indian playback singer who is considered as one of the most popular male Indian film song and ghazal singers. Although he tried his luck as a film actor, he did not succeed a great deal in acting.[1][2]

Talat Mahmood received the Padma Bhushan award in 1992, in recognition of his artistic contributions in the spheres of cinematic and ghazal music.[3][4]

He was particularly famous for singing soft and sombre ghazals in his quivering and silky voice. Romantic and tragic were the moods he liked most and it was he who helped a great deal in shaping the style and method of modern ghazal singing in India during the 1950s and 1960s.[1]

Early life

Talat Mahmood was born in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India to Manzoor Mahmood. Talat showed his musical leanings from a very young age and would enjoy sitting through all-night music concerts.[5]

Coming from a conservative Muslim background, singing was not encouraged. Talat had to choose between working in films and continue living at home. Despite his parents objection, he opted for the films, though his family accepted the fact only about a decade later when he gained some respect in the Indian film industry.[5]

Singing career

Talat apprenticed classical music under Pandit S.C.R. Bhat at Marris College of Music, Lucknow (presently Bhatkhande Music Institute) some time in the late 1930s. Talat Mahmood began his singing career at the age of 16 in 1939, when he began singing the Ghazals of Daag, Mir, Jigar etc. on All India Radio, Lucknow. His voice had a quality distinct from all the other singers. HMV was quick to notice this and offered Talat his first disc in 1941 Sab din ek samaan nahin tha, Bun jaoon ga kya se kya main, Iska to kuch dhyan nahin tha.[2]

His reputation as a ghazal singer was not limited to his hometown of Lucknow, but it reached the city that proved to shape his destiny – Calcutta. The then famous ghazal singers were Barkat Ali Khan, K.L. Saigal and M.A. Rauf. The classical songs he sang were "Sapnon Ki Suhaani Duniyaa Ko" for film Shikast and "Laage Tose Naina" for Chaandi Ki Deewar.

In 1944, he sang the popular hit Tasveer teri dil mera behela nah sake gi.[2] This disc brought Talat the fame throughout India and soon he was beckoned by the Calcutta film industry. Talat made cameo appearances and starred in about 16 films, for both the Calcutta (film hub of the 1940s) and Bombay Film Industry. The three films in which he starred were regional hits in Calcutta. Initially, in Calcutta, he recorded a lot of Bangla songs (basic album) under the assumed name of "Tapan Kumar".[2]

In 1949, Talat moved to Bombay, to sing for the Hindi film industry. His big break came with the song Ae dil mujhay aisi jaga le chal composed by music director Anil Biswas, his mentor in Bombay, for the soundtrack of the film Arzoo (1950 film).[2]

Laxmikant Pyarelal composed a melodious duet with Lata Mangeshkar in 1971 film Woh Din Yaad Karo, this happened to be his last song in Hindi films. Later he was heard in an Urdu Movie, Vale-E Azam in 1987, along with Hemlata.

Commemorative postage stamp

Talat Mahmood on a 2016 stamp of India

India Post issued a commemorative postage stamp to honor him in 2016.

Acting career

Talat Mahmood acted in over a dozen films with actresses of the time like Nutan, Mala Sinha, Suraiya and others. Later he decided to give up acting to concentrate on singing.[1][6]

Talat acted in the following Hindi films:

Film Name Year Opposite
Raj Laxmi[6] 1945 Kananbala
Tum Aur Main[6] 1947 Kanandevi
Samapti[6] 1949 Bharti Devi
Aaraam[6] 1951 Madhubala, Dev Anand
Thokar 1953 Shammi Kapoor
Dil-e-Nadaan[6] Shyama, Peace Kanwal
Daak Babu 1954 Nadira
Waris Suraiya, Nadira
Raftaar 1955 Nadira
Diwali Ki Raat 1956 Roopmala, Shashikala
Ek Gaon Ki Kahani 1957 Mala Sinha
Lala Rukh[6][1] 1958 Shyama
Maalik[6] Suraiya
Sone Ki Chidiya[6] Nutan

The advent of rock-n-roll music in the late 1960s sidelined singers like Talat. As long as he was top box-office draw, the film producers insisted on including his songs in their films. Talat's velvety vocals posed a special challenge to the music-composers, most of whom leaned towards the deep baritones of Mohammad Rafi and Mukesh. The resultant demise of his film career led to the decline of his singing career. At the same time, the social changes and happiness brought about by increasing prosperity in India meant that blue mood ghazals and heart-rending ballads were not popular any more. Talat continued to record good songs, but less in number. His last soundtrack recording, in 1985, is the song "Mere Shareek-e-Safar", a duet sung with Hemlata, from the film "Wali-e-Azam" composed by Chitragupt and written by Ahmed Wasi.

However, Talat who was one of the first Indian singer to go on foreign concert tours in 1956 to East Africa, United States, the UK, West Indies. He performed in Royal Albert Hall in London, Madison Square Garden in the United States and in the West Indies. He continued singing until 1991, when he toured the Netherlands.[1]


Talat married a Bengali Christian girl from Calcutta, who also acted in films and was a great fan of his, Latika Mullick, later named Nasreen on 20 February 1951 and had two children Khalid born in 1953 and Sabina born in 1959.[7]

His grand-niece and well known journalist is Sahar Zaman.[8] She has started a special multi-performance tribute platform called Jashn-e-Talat, dedicated to Talat Mahmood's career.


People, who were close to Talat, describe his nature as a quiet one. It is often remarked that he was a decent man, and his velvety and silky voice also reflected that decency and sense of calmness. Music directors, who worked with him, claimed that while listening to him, one would develop the feeling that Talat was a soft-hearted man. Dilip Kumar termed Talat as "a perfect gentleman". Veteran Indian film music director Mohammed Zahur Khayyam is reportedly quoted as saying, "He was a perfect gentleman. With him there was no loose talk. He was always well-dressed: his shoes shining and his trousers perfectly creased."[1]

Available work

Talat sang approximately 750 songs in 12 languages spread over 4 decades spanning between the 1940s and 1980s. He recorded his first song back in 1941.[1]

Popular singles

Some of his most memorable songs from Indian cinema are:

Song Film Year Notes
Humse Aaya Na Gaya Dekh Kabira Roya 1957
Aa Chan Ve Mutiar,Punjabi movie 1951 With Surinder Kaur
Jatta aayi basakhi faslan di mukk gayi raakhi and (he sang all songs this movie also) Koday Shah,Punjabi movie 1953 chorus with Shaminderpal Singh, Meena Mangeshkar
Jayen To Jayen Kahan[2] Taxi Driver 1954
Tasveer Banata Hoon Baradari 1955
Dil-E-Nadaan Tujhe Hua Kya Hai Mirza Ghalib 1954 Duet song with Suraiya
Itna Na Mujhse Tu Pyar Badha Chhaya 1961 Duet song with Lata Mangeshkar
Seene Mein Sulagte Hai Armaan Tarana 1951 Duet song with Lata Mangeshkar
Aansoo Samajhke Kyon Mujhe Chhaya 1961
Aaha Rimjhim Ke Yeh Pyare Pyare Geet Liye Usne Kaha Tha 1960 Duet song with Lata Mangeshkar
Sham-E-Gham Ki Kasam Footpath 1953
Jalte Hain Jiske Liye Sujata 1959
Meri Yaad Mein Tum Na Aansoo Bahana Madhosh 1951
Phir Wahi Sham, Wahi Gham Jahan Ara 1964
Ae Mere Dil Kahin Aur Chal Daag 1952
Zindagi Denewale Sun Dil-e-Nadaan 1953
Main Dil Hoon Ek Armaanbhara Anhonee 1952
Andhe Jahan Ke Andhe Raste Patita 1953
Kadale Neela Kadale Dweep Music By M.S.Baburaj, Malayalam film
"Lal Lal Hothwa Se" Laagi Nahi Chhute Ram 1963 Bhojpuri Film
"Lagi Nahi Choote Ram"
Ashqon Ne Jo Paya Hai Chaandi Ki Deewar 1964 Music: N Dutta; Lyricist: Sahir Ludhianvi
Bechain Nazar, Betaab Jigar Yasmeen 1955
Raat Ne Kya Kya Khwab Dikhaye Ek Gaon Ki Kahani 1957
Chal Diya Karvaan, Loot Gaye Hum Yahan Laila Majnu
Hoke Majboor Mujhe Usne Bulaya Hoga Haqeeqat 1964 song with Mohammed Rafi, Manna Dey & Bhupinder Singh
Aye Dil Mujhe Aisi Jaga Le Chal Arzoo 1950
Milte Hi Aankhen Dil Hua Deewana Babul 1950
Mera Jeevan Saathi Bichhar Gaya Babul 1950
Koi Nahin Mera Is Duniya Mein Daag 1952
Hum Dard Ke Maron Ka Daag 1952
Mohabbat Ki Kahaniyan Woh Din Yaad Karo 1971 Melodious duet song with Lata Mangeshkar composed by Great music duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal

In his personal visit to Dhaka in 1960, he sang two beautiful Bengali songs for the film Rajdhanir Bukey directed by Ehtesham and music director Robin Ghosh.

Song Film Year Notes
Tomare legechche etoje bhalo Rajdhanir Bukey 1960 Lyrics: KG Mostafa
Amaar se gaan furiye gechhe Rajdhanir Bukey 1960


Talat Mahmood died on 9 May 1998.[1][9]

In 2018, an event was arranged in New Delhi to pay tribute to Talat Mahmood on his 20th death anniversary. This was called Jashn-e-Talat and marked the start of an ongoing tribute festival curated by his grand-niece Sahar Zaman [10]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Avijit Ghosh (9 May 2008). "Remembering Talat Mahmood". Times of India. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Talat Mahmood – Part 1 (a profile)". Cineplot.com website. 3 July 2010. Archived from the original on 1 November 2011. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  3. ^ "Padma Awards List (1954–2013)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2 September 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  4. ^ Talat Mahmood's award in 1992 on Government of India (padmaawards.gov..in) website Retrieved 3 November 2020
  5. ^ a b David Courtney. "Biography of Talat Mahmood". Chandrakantha.com website. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Talat Mahmood's Filmography". Cineplot.com website. 13 July 2010. Archived from the original on 1 November 2011. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  7. ^ "Profile of Talat Mahmood". Cineplot.com website. 15 July 2010. Archived from the original on 1 November 2011. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  8. ^ Zaman, Sahar. "In fond remembrance of the ghazal's 'velvet voice'".
  9. ^ "Talat Mahmood: 'Fact File'". Talatmahmood.net website. 19 August 2006. Archived from the original on 4 March 2007. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  10. ^ Arts festival to pay tribute to late singer-actor Talat Mahmood Outlook (Indian magazine), Published 25 November 2018, Retrieved 3 November 2020