Search engine giant Google is marking Begum Akhtar’s 103rd birth anniversary on Saturday by dedicating a special doodle to ‘Mallika-e-Ghazal’. The doodle shows Akhtar playing sitar at the centre, with fans appreciating her performance. Renowned Ghazal singer Begum Akhtar was born on October 7, 1941 in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh. Akhtar developed a liking for the music at a very tender age and was sent to train under Sarangi exponent Ustad Imdad Khan in Bihar’s Patna. She also went on to receive training from Ata Mohammed Khan in Patiala, Punjab.

Begum Akhtar delivered her first public performance at the tender age of 15 and received appreciation from famous poet Sarojini Naidu for her singing at a concert organised to provide aid to 1934 Nepal–Bihar earthquake victims. Apart from music, Begum Akhtar also tried her hands in theatre in Kolkata. She got so much fame from music that only prominent personalities were allowed to attend her mehfils.

Begum Akhtar got married to barrister Ishtiaq Ahmed Abbasi. In 1950s, she began acting in movies. In 1958, her movie Jalsagar, directed by Satyajit Ray turned out to be her last film as an actress. She however continued her association with theatre for a long time.

Begum Akhtar was awarded Padma Shri in 1968 and Padma Bhushan in 1975. She was also a recipient of Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for vocal music. Her disciples include Shanti Hiranand, who herself went on to receive Padma Shri later. She also penned down a biography Begum Akhtar: The Story of My Ammi which was released in 2005.  Art critic S. Kalidas has directed a documentary on Begum Akhtar titled Hai Akhtari. The singer passed away on October 30. 1974, but her melodious voice continues to echo in our ears even today. Which is your favourite song by Begum Akhtar, let us know in the comments section below!