Google has dedicated a special doodle celebrating Begum Akhtar’s 103rd birthday. Today’s doodle simply represents Akhtar holding a sitar in the midst of an audience holding roses. Her portrait in the middle takes the shape of the letter ‘O’ in Google. Unlike other doodles where a mini game of sorts is usually hidden, this one has a more artistic approach.
Born Akhtari Bai Faizabadi in October 7, 1914, Begum Akhtar is a renowned Indian classical singer who excelled in three genres of Ghazal, Dadra, and Thumri. Akhtar was first drawn into music listening to Chandra Bai who toured with a theater group. She was then trained under Ustad Imdad Khan, and Ata Mohammed Khan as well. She moved on to learning from artists like Mohammad Khan, Abdul Waheed Khan in Calcutta. Ultimately, she became a disciple of Ustad Jhande Khan.
At the age of fifteen, Akhtar had her first public performance which then led to making records. She is also known to be among the first female singers to give public performances. At that time, most female performance were conducted in private gatherings. She was applauded by Sarojini Naidu for her performance at the fund-raising concert for the 1934 Nepal-Bihar earthquake. She even earned the title of ‘Queen of Ghazals’. Apart from singing ghazals, Akhtar also acted in a few movies during the 1930s like Roti. ALSO READ: Google Doodle celebrates 100th birthday of Asima Chatterjee
Among her awards include the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for vocal music. Akhtar was awarded Padma Shri, and then posthumously a Padma Bhushan. Akhtar met her death following a concert in Ahmedabad where she had strained her voice. It is said that she didn’t feel her performance was up to the mark anymore, which caused her stress and eventually led to her falling ill. Akhtar died on October 30, 1974, and she rests at her house in Lucknow. ALSO READ: Google’s 19th birthday celebrated with a surprise spinner