Lucknow, Oct. 8 -- Born on October 7, 1914, Padma Bhushan Begum Akhtar was way ahead of her times. She was an icon of women liberation. No wonder the malika-e ghazal and her inimitable style of singing still rule the hearts of Lucknowites, say old timers.

Remembering her genius on the occasion of her birth anniversary on Tuesday, historian Padmashri Yogesh Praveen who was close to the ghazal virtuoso, said, " I still remember when I went to meet her with Krishna Behari 'Noor' sahib in a mehfil in the sixties. She was smoking a Capstan cigarette at her residence. But despite being a chain smoker she was a wonderful singer. During that mehfil she mesmerised the audience. She struck a chord with the audience with the very first couplet of the...