Rajkumari Dubey (1924 – 2000), was the first Indian playback singer who worked in Hindi cinema in the 1930s and 1940s. ‘Sun Bairi Baalam Sach Bol Re’ in Bawre Nain (1950), ‘Ghabaraa Ke Jo Hum Sar Ko Takraayan’ in Mahal (1949), and ‘Najariya Ki Maari’ in Pakeezah are among her best-known songs (1972). She had a considerably softer and sweeter voice than the great vocalists of that time, Zohrabai Ambalewali, Amirbai Karnataki, and Shamshad Begum, with a much narrower range. She sang in over 100 films over the next two decades until Lata Mangeshkar transformed the playback-singing scene in India in the early 1950s.
She began her career as a stage performer when she was ten years old and recorded her first song for HMV in 1934. Prakash Pictures’ Vijay Bhatt and Shankar Bhatt saw her during one of her shows. They admired her singing and convinced her to stop acting on stage since it might harm her voice. As a result, she left the theatre and went to work as an actor and vocalist for Prakash Pictures.
She sang a number of Gujarati and Punjabi songs. Rajkumari was married to V.K. Dubey, who was from Benares, Uttar Pradesh, where he spent a lot of time, while she lived in Bombay. Rajkumari had been out of work for a long time until music director Naushad noticed her singing in the chorus for Pakeezah’s background score (1972). Naushad was taken aback by this, as she had admired her in her prime and was heartbroken to learn that she had been relegated to singing in the chorus to make ends meet. As a result, in Pakeezah, he dedicated a whole song to her, Najariya ki Mari. Rajkumari also made an appearance on Channel 4’s Mahfil, a Samandar Films production produced by Firdous Ali and Mahmood Jamal. ‘Har Din Jo Beeta’ was her last film song, which she recorded for R. D. Burman in the film Kitaab.