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Mohini Hameed: A Voice for Ages

By: Ayaz Morris



In the journey of writing, I got an opportunity to know about such rare diamonds for which maybe one life is not enough. They played their role in improving the lives of people from every moment of their life. Such a melodious, affecting and heart touching by listening to her listeners, the voice of a Pakistani, the glory of Radio and broadcaster. Today will talk about the life of renowned boardcaster Mohini Das.

Mohini Das, Pakistan’s first woman radio broadcaster was born in Batala, India in 1922 in a Christian family. In 1938, she joined All India Radio (AIR) as a dramatist. When AIR Lahore started a children’s radio program, she was given the name “Apa Shamim”. She continued to host children’s programs for about 39 years, making Apa Shamim a household name in the Indian subcontinent. As it happened, Mohini Das chose Pakistan and made it her permanent home. Mohini Das became Pakistan’s first female broadcaster. In 1954, she married Hameed Ahmed, an editor at Jang newspaper, and she became Mohini Hameed. He was a broad-minded person who was familiar with the art of Mohini Das. Her son Izzy Hameed said that his father was a very open-minded person who never objected to his mother being a Christian but always understood religions and Beliefs respected.

Throughout her career, she has been honored with numerous awards from various artistic and cultural organizations in Pakistan and outside Pakistan. In 1957, she was named Voice of the Year. In 1963, Radio Pakistan Lahore celebrated her Silver Jubilee and BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) in its Urdu broadcast called her “Golden Voice of Asia”.

Awarded “Medal of Distinction”.

In 1969, the United Nations declared the Year of Women and exhibited her photograph and writing along with other distinguished women from Asia in Ottawa, Canada. In 1977, Mohini Hameed retired and moved from Pakistan to the United States to engage in Christian missionary work, a lifelong ambition of her. She joined Key Communications, which was carrying out Christian evangelistic and communication activities in South Asia. She recorded the complete Holy Bible (New Testament) in Urdu for radio broadcast in Pakistan and the Middle East. Despite losing her sight, she completed this project.

Even in her absence from the country, in 1998, the Government of Pakistan again awarded Mohini Hameed with the “Tamgha Imtiaz” for the second time. Congratulatory messages were received from all over the world. After this honor, Voice of America aired an interview about her art and life for Urdu international broadcast. May 16, 2009 Mohini Hameed died in America. In 2013, Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation dedicated Lahore “Mohini Hameed Studio” in her honour.

According to Vintage Pakistan, “Her voice was so loved by the audience that Imtiaz Ali Taj, Rafi Peer, Abid Ali Abid, Shaukat Thanvi and other writers used to create characters based on her voice. Mohini Hameed also played the role of a blind girl in Rafi Pir’s famous drama Akhiyaan. Mohini Hameed belonged to the generation of singers that included Mustafa Ali Hamdani, Akhlaq Ahmed Dehlavi, Azizur Rehman, Nasreen Mehmood, Khalida Arjamand, Abdul Latif Musafir, artists like Mirza Sultan Baig alias Nizam Din and Muhammad Hussain were involved. This was the time when dramatists like Imtiaz Ali Taj, Rafi Parawar and Shaukat Thanvi also performed magic in various radio programs.”



On her death, BBC Urdu published the news as follows: “Broadcaster Mohini Hameed passed away. Former broadcaster of Radio Pakistan, children’s Apa Shamim, heroine of many well-known radio dramas and singer of many famous children’s songs. Mohini Hameed has passed away in the US state of Washington. This sad news was received by the media through her daughter Kanwal Naseer on the night of May 18. The deceased had started working on radio in her youth under the name of Mohini Das and for thirty-five years was a weekly children’s program from Radio Pakistan Lahore. Apart from playing the role of Shamim, she also narrated a story to children every evening for years. Mohini Hameed, who played the lead role in Imtiaz Ali Taj’s famous play Satara, had been living in America for many years. The family members of the deceased include her husband Hameed Ahmed, daughter Kanwal Naseer and son Azn-e Hameed. The radio people rightly gave the deceased the title of Bulbul-e-Sashaan.(Queen of Transmission)

Her daughter Kanwal Naseer said in an interview that she had everything given by God, but I am not happy with the government of Pakistan that she did not have a house of her own in Pakistan. Such a great artist, a Sufi woman, Who gave this country so much civilization, corrected the language, gave love to the children, told stories every day, you can’t imagine that so many children came to her program. Despite giving so much, she didn’t even have their own house. She lived all life in a rented house in Lahore. Her son Izzy Hameed said that his mother was a very simple and religious woman, she often showed such simplicity that many people did not believe that she despite being so well-known and famous, she did not leave the foot of simplicity.

Mohini Hameed, the queen of acting talent, was a quill with magical charm of voice and a figure of simplicity and honesty. Her granddaughter Michelle Sara, based in New York, USA, said that she was lucky to have her childhood with her grandmother. That is the reason she can speaks Urdu despite being born and brought up in America. It is the best proof of her grandmother’s training and her love for Urdu.

Mohini Hameed visited Pakistan only twice after emigrating from Pakistan, but I don’t know why I feel that she would have left Pakistan, but her love for Pakistani soil and people has never been separated from her heart, soul and life. There is very little material on her life, art and services on the internet and media which is a testament to our tradition of being literate and honoring our heroes. Based on her life, events and services, Hameed Ahmed has written a book in Urdu “Mohni Hameed (Apa Shamim) in America, Chand Yadeen-Chand Batian” which is a good source to know her personality. He wrote this: “To Mohini Hameed, who was dearer to me than my life.”

It is said about Mohini Hameed that Mohini did not need a microphone but the microphone desired her voice. There are countless stories about Mohini Hameed’s life, art and personality which are beacon for the new generation of broadcasters. There are artists born in centuries who influence the lives of others with their art and personality. Mohini Hameed is one such role model who has shown the best of her art during her illustrious career.

These words and titles about her artistic, civilized and professional skills are very few. Mohini Hameed was the great masterpiece of the radio; her art achieved this position thanks to numerous sacrifices in life. Mohini Hameed is a true and great motivation for us, that if nature has gifted you with rare talents, then it is the best gratitude for these blessings of nature by making them known for the betterment of the people.

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