78 rpm Records of Indian Music: Bashir Quaval of Poona

Unless I miss my guess, this still from the 1936 Hindi film Miss Frontier Mail (featuring Fearless Nadia!) is of Bashir Quaval playing harmonium and singing. He is featured on some songs in the movie, and the voice certainly sounds similar to these two naat-s. See the clip here.

Since much of India’s early film industry was based in Pune, the geographical suffix makes sense.

Madine ke raajaa madine

Pyaari pyaari suratwale

78 rpm Records of Indian Music: Wahidanbai of Agra

In Quawwali performances, a song in praise of the Prophet Mohammed is known as a naat. Wahidanbai of Agra was also heard in Hindi film around this time; unless I’ve got the wrong artist, she was sometimes known as Wahidan Wasti.

Regardless, I enjoy these two naats for her fervent delivery and clear voice production. You will, too.

Ya Mohammed Ya Mohammed:

Khwaajaji tera mela:

The “Young India” record label was an attempt at indigenous music production:

During 1930-35, the British and German record manufacturing companies were well established and had a major share of disc manufacturing in India. The ‘Young India’ record label was an ‘indigenous’ effort at record production. The company issued over 10,000 songs on different subjects such as film music, classical music, folk music, publicity and educational material. Mainly amateur and upcoming artists have recorded on this label. The company ceased to function in 1955 so these recordings have never been reissued on audio tapes and CDs. Hence, it is important and relevant to preserve these invaluable recordings and the associated documents.

During 1935-55, the company produced over 10,000 titles on 78-rpm, 10 inch diameter shellac discs with two songs per disc. Each side could be played for over 3/3.5 minutes on spring wound gramophone machines. The recordings of film, popular, classical and folk music were issued. The repertoire covered music from different regions of India and sung in many different languages. During the long tenure of over twenty years, Indian citizens witnessed several important events such as the movement and struggle for freedom, Indian Independence in 1947, World War II and the beginning of the romantic period of independent India. This was also reflected in the records produced. Thus, there are speeches of great leaders, ballads, skits and dialogues on a number of subjects depicting changing social and political situations.


“Young India” records released many recordings of hortatory patriotic speeches. I wish I had a few of them in my collection, but these items are extremely rare.

78 rpm Records of Indian Music: Mahomad Yacub and Fidai Premragi

Here are some early Quawwali performances, again part of the same collection of 78 rpm discs purchased in Udaipur in 2000.

Searching for “Mahomad Yacub and Fidai Premragi” yields only these videos; their names have faded into oblivion, at least until today.

Enjoy listening to two forgotten voices from an all-but-vanished world.

The handclaps on “Udhar the sab khudiwale” remind me of Philly Joe Jones’ famous on-the-fourth-beat rimshots, an association that in turn reminds me of just how narrow a demographic I actually occupy.