Talat Mahmood, as a singer, had a special gift being endowed with what is called a melodious voice, or makhmali awaz in his native Urdu.
His followers from all over the world call him 'The Shahenshah of Ghazal. Indeed, he came to fame with his exquisite ghazal Tasveer teri dil mera bahela na sakegi for All India Radio in 1944. Talat Mahmood started his music career in 1939 at the age of 16 on All India Radio, Lucknow. After he came to Calcutta, he became a renowned name there. Onwards, he recorded a number of Bengali songs under the name 'Tapan Kumar'.
In 1949, Talat Mahmood moved to Bombay. Music director Anil Biswas gave his first big break, as he sang Meri yad me tum aansoo na bahana na jiko jalana mujhe bhul jana for the film Madhosh in 1951. The song, composed by Madan Mohan, tells of a lasting bond between broken hearts. For the film Dekh Kabira Roya (1957), he sang Humse aya na gaya tumse bulaya na gaya fasla pyar me dono ka mitaya na gaya, also composed by Madan Mohan.
Talat Mahmoud's ghazals are exquisite presentations of this genre of music. A southern movie, Parchain, had a lovely ghazal by Talat Mahmood - Mohabbat hi jo na samjhe woh zaalim pyar kya jane composed by C Ramchandra.
Talat Mahmood sang two evergreen love songs - Jalte hain jiske teri aankhon ki diye dhund laya hun wohi geet teri liye for the film Sujata (1959). The music was composed by S D Burman. The other song is from the film Chayya (1961) - Itna mujhse pyar bara ke main ek badal awara. It is a duet with Lata Mangeshkar, while the music is by Salil Chowdhury.
Talat was also fluent in Bengali, and sang a number of popular Bengali songs with clarity and precision. Andho raate jodi ghum bhenge jai mone pore more priyo, composed by Nirmal Bhattacharya (1948) is a favourite. Tumi sundar jodi nahi hou is also a gem; the music was by V Balsara. Talat Mahmood was in Dhaka (then Dacca) in 1960 and recorded two songs for the film, Rajdhanir Bukey.
The celebrated singer also acted in 13 Hindi films, primarily opposite Nutan and Mala Sinha, among others.
Talat Mahmood was born on 24 February 1924 in Lucknow in a conservative Muslim family, and died on May 9, 1998 at the age of 74.