Popular As: Rajkumari
Birth: 1919
Death: 20th March 2000
First Film: Sansar Leela
Last Film: Kitaab
Work Span: 1934 - 1977

Rajkumari Dubey was born in 1919 in Benaras, UP, in a family which did have much to do with music or singing. Her family lived in a house which was situated just opposite to a cinema hall, which was close enough for her to be able to hear the songs. She was obsessed with the films and music since her childhood. She became friends with the cinema hall's projectionist and he used to allow her to sit in the projection room. Rajkumari used to sing along with the moving images on the big screen. Rajkumari was taken to Siddeshwari Devi's house for her vocal training where She used to sing for her mother Rajeshwari Devi.. Rajeshwari Devi was very impressed with her singing abilities.

Rajkumari was barely eight or nine when her father's close friend Mr. Lallubhai Kapoor, who used to work for Imperial Film Company of Ardeshir Irani, visited her house and offered her to sing for his film. He asked her to move to Bombay. May be that was too early for her to decide. But few years later she finally moved to Bombay. Mr. Lallubhai Kapoor was directing a new film which was written by D N Madhok. Music was being composed by Gangaprasad Pathak and he offered Rajkumari to sing a song for the film. But Rajkumari was professional enough and she refused to sing without being paid. She was then paid Re 1 for the song. That rupee marked her arrival in the film world.

Rajkumari started acting in various plays and dramas. At this time Prakash Picture company was looking out for a singing actress. They saw one of her plays and approached her for their film. Rajkumari was quite fat at that time but they were confident that she could play the role. This is how she got her first film Sansaar Leela. She sang four songs for Sansaar Leela. All were very popular and she got few more films of Prakash Pictures. Those were the days when there were no microphones, and, one has to sing on the top their voices to be heard. Vijay Bhatt adviced Rajkumari to not to act inthe movies and concentrate onher singing as this could damage her singing abilities. Rajkumari then decided to quit acting in the films.

She started taking her singing quite seriously. She sang many songs and became very popular. She used to charge Rs 50 per song which was much higher as compared to what the other singers were getting at that time. Rajkumari sang with K L Saigal in Bhakt Surdas, with Noor Jahan in Naukar and many other big names of that time, with ease. Later she also sang with Lata mangeshkar in Anhoni, with Zohrabai in Mahal. There was a time when Rajkumari recorded 3 to 4 songs a day, which was quite an achievement considering the facilities.

Rajkumari got married and settled in Bombay. She cornered herself from the film industry slowly and stopped giving any playback. It was the composer R D Burman who invited her to sing for the film Kitaab in 1977. She sang 'Hari Din To Beeta Shaam Huyi Raat Paar Kara De...' with quite ease even at a age of 58.

Rajkumari died on 20th March 2000 in Bombay and the only people from the film industry that showed up at the funeral were one-time actor Chandrashekhar and singer Sonu Nigam.

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