Rajkumari Dubey is hailed as one of India’s accomplished playback singers, recognized for her mesmerizing vocals and remarkable contributions to the world of music. Born in 1924 in British India, Rajkumari showcased her innate talent for singing from a young age, despite receiving no formal training in the art. Encouraged and supported by her family, she embarked on a remarkable journey that would shape the Indian music industry.
At the tender age of 10, Rajkumari recorded her first song for the prestigious music recording house HMV in 1934. This early exposure marked the beginning of her career as a stage artist, captivating audiences with her captivating voice and emotive performances.
During one of her stage shows, Rajkumari’s exceptional talent caught the attention of Vijay Bhatt and Shankar Bhatt, notable figures from Prakash Pictures. Recognizing her potential, she was offered employment as both an actress and singer at Prakash Pictures. Her debut film under the production banner was the Hindi-Gujarati bilingual titled ‘Sansar Leela Nayi Duniya.’ In subsequent years, she earned significant roles in movies such as “Aankh Ka Tara,” “Turki Sher,” “Bhakt Ke Bhagwan,” and “Insaaf Ki Topi.” She also shared the screen with Zakaria Khan (Jayant), the father of the late actor Amjad Khan, in various films.
While initially singing under the guidance of illustrious music director Lallubhai, Rajkumari eventually decided to focus solely on her singing career. She parted ways with Prakash Pictures and embarked on a successful journey as a playback singer, lending her voice to actresses like Ratnamala and Shobhana Samarth. Notably, she holds the distinction of being the “First Female Playback Singer of Indian Cinema.” In addition to Hindi, Rajkumari recorded numerous songs in Gujarati and Punjabi, showcasing her versatility and mastery over different languages.
Despite lacking formal training in music, Rajkumari possessed an extraordinary ability to adapt to various musical styles. She honed her skills as a classical singer and excelled in performing classical forms such as thumri and dadra. During her career, she shared the stage with renowned contemporaries like Shamshad Begum, Zohrabai Ambalewali, Juthika Roy, and Zeenat Begum. A notable collaboration was her duet with the illustrious singer Noor Jehan in the film “Naukar” released in 1943.
Later in life, Rajkumari married V.K. Dubey, a native of Benares (Uttar Pradesh). In the year 1951, she continued to lend her enchanting voice to films such as “Neel Kamal” starring Raj Kapoor and Madhubala, and “Hulchul.” However, her most famous contributions were in the films “Bawre Nain” (1950) and “Mahal” (1949), where she provided the soulful vocals for the iconic Indian actress Madhubala. Notably, music director Naushad discovered Rajkumari’s talent when he heard her singing in the chorus for the background score of “Pakeezah” (1972).
Rajkumari’s illustrious career continued until she recorded her final film song for R.D. Burman in the film “Kitaab.” Sadly, in the early 2000s, Rajkumari passed away, leaving behind a rich musical legacy and an indelible mark on the Indian film industry.