Graphic Novel | Begum Akhtar: Journey From a 'Tawaif' to 'Mallika-e-Ghazal'

With kajal-smeared eyes, diamond nose ring, deep red lips, and toothy smile, Begum sang with a pain in her voice.
Shohini Bose & Aroop Mishra
Graphic Novels

Journey from Bai to Begum!


(Illustration: Aroop Mishra)

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Journey from Bai to Begum!</p></div>

A Tawaif (courtesan) who sang with a pain in her voice, one of the first courtesans to sing in a public concert, the only artist who was allowed to smoke in the All India Radio's premises then, best known for over 400 ghazals, thumris, dadras (forms of Indian classical music) – most of them composed by her, and renditions of famous Urdu poems, and a short sting in cinemas, which she had to abruptly cut – Bibi overcame several tragedies, turning her agony into soulful music.

Tracing Bibi's journey from a courtesan who performed in mehfils (private concerts) to the Mallika-e-Ghazal (Queen of ghazals) who took two nations by storm –


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