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A princess from yesteryear

Moods & Memories
Rs 38

This collection of 16 vintage Hindi film songs in Rajkumari's grainy voice is a true delight. In the same bracket as Shamshad Begum and Zohrabai, she was very famous in the 40's. Almost all her songs were hits and comprised the daily quota on the radio for audiences in all parts of India including the South. These three held sway over playback singing which had just then come into existence replacing singing-actresses/ actors.

Some of the best songs are those from the film Bawre Nain, especially her duet with Mukesh, (Mujhe sach sach bata do). Her voice seems to be meant for the lively, natural actress that Geeta Bali was. The other hits featuring in this cassette are by such music composers as Roshan, S D Burman and Anil Biswas.

The cassette features two duets with Lata Mangeshkar who came in only in the late 40's and was allowed to sing with greats like Shamshad Begum and Rajkumari. The benignant influence of the senior artiste is evident in Lata's singing, as she tries to emote much more than she has ever done in the past thirty years. But interestingly she sounds very unsubstantial heard along with the rich and fluent voice of Rajkumari. The tonally rich orchestral arrangements of the 40's with the flute, sarangi, violins accompanying the singer are a treat and Rajkumari is a 'natural'.. A recent TV programme had invited her to judge a competition for young singers and she amazed everyone with her strong sense of humour and love of life and youthful wittiness as she exchanged repartees and sallied with old time music composers. HMV would have done well to publish sleeve notes giving a brief introduction to Rajkumari and her background. So little is known of her.

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