Mallika-e-Ghazal, Begum Akhtar would have turned 103 had she been alive today. A well known singer of Ghazal, Dadra and Thumri genres of Hindustani classical music, Begum was born on October 7, 1914 in Bharat Kund in Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh. During her time as India’s renowned Ghazal songstress, she was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. Later on, the Indian government posthumously awarded her two of the highest awards of the country–Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan for her contribution in the world of music. On the occasion of this auspicious day, Google celebrated the veteran singer’s life by dedicating a doodle in her name.

She used to also sing at the All India Radio very often and is known for her Bengali timeless classic–‘ Jochona Koreche Aari’. Like this, we’re sure not many of you are aware of the songstress or of her tussle filled life. Thus to celebrate the Begum Akhtar and her life, we bring you seven lesser known facts of the legendary songstress.

#At a very tender age she was deeply inspired by the music of Chandra Bai, a theatre artist. She took training under Sarangi maestro Ustad Imdad Khan and later from Patiala’s iconic Ata Mohammed Khan. Thereafter, she went to Kolkata where she trained under Lahore’s Abdul Waheed Khan, Mohammad Khan and eventually Ustad Jhande Khan.

# She did her first stage performance at the age of 15, and won accolades from the Nightingle Of India, Sarojini Naidu for her singing talent.

# Begum Akhtar was one among the foremost female stage performers and her first music disc was released by the Megaphone Record Company.

# In the 1930s, she also got the opportunity to act in films thanks to her unmissable beauty. Among the noteworthy films she acted in were, Raaj Haan’s King for a Day (1933), Mumtaz Beghum (1934),  Jawaani Ka Nasha (1935), and Satyajit Ray’s Jalsaghar (1958).

# She was earlier known as Akhtaribai. She came to be known as Begum Akhtar after she married a barrister from Lucknow, Ishtiaq Ahmed Abbasi .

#Having gone through a lot of pain and struggle in her early years, many believed that the veteran Ghazal singer got so addicted to it that she would often feel restless without sadness in the later part of her life.

# The Legendary classical singer passed away on 30 October, 1974 in Ahmedabad where she took ill after a stage performance. She later succumbed to the illness.