Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday condoled the demise of legendary singer Shamshad Begum, describing her as one "among the most popular singers" of the country.
In a condolence message, Singh said: "Smt. Begum was among the most popular singers for over three decades and captured the hearts of music lovers with her enchanting voice and unique tonal rendition."
"She was an artist of extraordinary talent and abilities and the songs she has left behind in her long career, which she started with AIR in 1947, will continue to enthrall music lovers," the PM said, expressing sadness over Begum's passing away.
In a condolence statement expressing grief over Begum's death, Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan said that "even today, her songs appear refreshing and appealing".
"Smt Shamshad Begum's melodious voice at once takes one back to the Golden era of Indian films. Shamshadji had a unique voice that touched the heart of the listener. Even today, her songs appear as refreshing and appealing as they did when she actually sang them. She may no longer be amidst us, but I am sure her beautiful songs will live on for many more years," the governor said.
Popular for her songs like "Kajra mohabbat wala", "Leke pehla pehla pyar" and many others, Begum, 94, passed away in Mumbai after a prolonged spell of illness.
A widow since 1955, she lived with her daughter Usha Ratra at Powai, Andheri East.
Her funeral was conducted as a small, private affair with a few friends and admirers present in Andheri East last night.
Among the first woman playback singers in the Hindi film industry, which turns 100 this year, Shamshad Begum was born in April 14, 1919 in Amritsar, Punjab.
Interested in singing from a young age, she got her break as a singer with Peshawar Radio, Lahore in December 1947.
Some of her famous songs were "Mere piya gaye Rangoon", "Kabhi aar kabhi paar", "Kahinpe nigahen, kahinpe nishaana", "Chhod babul ka ghar", "Saiyan dilme aana re", and "Teri mehfil mein kismat ajmaan kar hum bhi dekhenge", among many others.
Conferred with a Padma Bhushan in 2009, Begum was a favourite of top music directors like Naushad Ali, O.P. Nayyar and many others who used her voice for certain numbers.
Besides Hindi, Begum also sang songs in Punjabi, Bengali and other Indian languages during her heydays.