It was ironic that the singer behind two of the most popular national songs Sohni Dharti and Jeevay Jeevay Pakistan, Shahnaz Begum would die on the 23rd of March, celebrated all over the world as Pakistan Day. Not only was she one of the most popular singers from the 70s, whenever she visited Pakistan from Bangladesh, she was received by her fans and followers as if she had never left.
Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) in 1952, Shahnaz Begum started her career in the late 1960s with Pakistan and Bengali films. However, it was through Sohail Rana’s Jeevay Pakistan and Sohni Dharti that she became extremely popular and started getting offers for films from East Pakistan as well.
Shahnaz Begum preferred to stay in Bangladesh in the late 1970s but occasionally visited Pakistan mostly in the late 80s and 1990s to perform in concerts. Her performance at the Silver Jubilee of Pakistan Television in 1989 is still etched into our memories.
She was the recipient of many national awards including the Ekushey Padak in 1992 and Bangladesh National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for the film Chhutir Phande (1990).
She also sang in Pakistani films with this song from Badal Aur Bijli being one of her very best from that era.