• Lata Mangeshkar

    • Oct 03, 2016
    • 4:50 PM
    WOH JAB GAATI HAI, BHAGWAN BHI SUNTE HAI...
    AUR LATAJI KE AUR BADE BADE CHAAHNEWALE
    (UNKE 87TH JANAMDIN PAR)

    There are times when it is difficult to believe living in a world without the voice of this diminutive vision in white. Her voice has been as important as the air millions of people have been breathing for more than seventy years. Her voice has been accepted by many as one of the last great miracles worked by God. She has sung innumerable songs in various Indian languages, she has sung songs in praise of God and about the emotions and feelings of human beings like no other human beings have. There have been countless singers who have come before her and after her, but she has been the unparalleled queen of Indian music, she has been the only voice that has made living legends sing her praises to the high heavens which has not affected her or spoilt her or made any difference to her voice which is still as fresh as it was when she first started singing way back in 1942. She completed eighty-seven years on September 28 and entered her eighty-eighth year, age has naturally taken its toll on her and she is mostly confined to her own room in "Prabhu Kunj", the apartment on Peddar Road where the entire Mangeshkar family has been living under her shadow for more than fifty years, but her voice is still the voice of a rare Nightingale which has flown through several million years and finally decided to make India her nest, which has been one of the greatest things to happen to India.

    Can any Indian think of an India without the ratna of Bharat, Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar? She is in every corner of India, she is in the hearts and minds of every Indian. She is as fresh as the morning breeze and richer than the greatest riches anywhere in the world. There was only one Lata Mangeshkar who God had in mind when he created her and God has never had the opportunity to change his mind. She has made sure that neither God nor man can live without the miracles worked by her out of this world voice...

    There have been all kinds of admirers and fans of this voice which happen once in millions of years, but there are some who are legends by themselves and still bow in respect when they even think about her. Like there is this story of Ustad Bismillah Khan who was once driving on one of the bridges in Bombay and heard her voice playing on a Radio somewhere and immediately asked his driver to stop the car and folded his hands and bowed and said, "Allah ki pyaari awaaz sunaai de rahi hai, sajda karne ko jee chaahta hai" (I can hear the voice loved by God singing, I feel like bowing my head in respect to the voice). There have been many other legends who have had the same kind of feelings for her and her voice. On the occasion of her birthday, I remember some of her all- time great fans...

    The legendary Dilip Kumar had made a name for himself as an actor before Lata Mangeshkar and her voice could create their magic in the film industry. He was six years older than her and accepted her as his "chhoti behn" and their relationship has lasted for the last sixty-five years and more. Dilip Kumar had been a part of some of her grand concerts in different parts of the world, but the way he described his "chhoti behn" at the Royal Albert Hall in London in the sixties is something those who heard it can never forget and I know of some octogenarians who say that it was difficult to know who was better, Lata Mangeshkar as the singer or Dilip Kumar, the man who recognised her talent and described it like no one else has to this day. The two have not found many opportunities to meet or come together for any event or occasion during the last fifteen years, but the Nightingale never loses any opportunity to remember her "Yusuf Bhai Sahab".

    She had a similar kind of relationship with Raj Kapoor who had gone on record more than many times that he could not imagine making a film without the voice of Lata as a part of it and he lived up to what he said and even in the last film he started, "Henna", he made sure that there were songs that would be sung by Lata. Raj died before "Henna" could go on the floor but he told his son Randhir Kapoor who was to direct "Henna" after his death that all the female songs in the film would be sung by Lata and no one else. Lata was not only a part of Raj's profession as a filmmaker, but an essential part of his family. In fact, it is said that he was inspired to make "Satyam Shivam Sundaram" after observing Lata for more than thirty years. The story of a rich and handsome man falling in love with the voice of a woman whose face he had never seen had come to Raj because of Lata.

    There were several music directors who could not think of scoring music for films without Lata singing in them because they believed that there was no greater voice than Lata's. The composer C. Ramchandra got her to sing in a wide variety of songs, like he had her to sing in a small film like "Albela" and also had her to sing for a magnum opus like "Azaad" starring Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari and when he had to record the patriotic song, "Ae mere watan ke logo" soon after the Indo-China war of 1962, he had no other choice but Lata who made an impact so strong that it not only left the entire country overwhelmed but also made the then ailing Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who was present when she sang the song at the Ram Lila grounds in New Delhi shed tears in public. That song, unfortunately was the last time the composer and Lata worked together because the composer soon died because of his weakness for alcohol.

    The other music director who could not think of scoring music for any kind of film without his "sister" Lata was Madan Mohan. Whether he scored music for a small and artistic film like "Dastak" or whether he composed tunes for the films made by Chetan Anand or for Raj Khosla in some of his memorable mystery thrillers which were also grand musicals, he always had Lata to sing for him and the films he worked on and together they worked magic in the realms of music. Yash Chopra was what he himself called "a devotee of the devi". He too like Raj Kapoor could not think of making any of his films without Lata singing in them. It was such a strong bond that Yash had Lata to sing in his first three films, "Dharamputra", "Dhool Ka Phool" and "Waqt" and right up to the last film he made before he died an untimely and unfortunate death, "Jab Tak Hai Jaan". He also made sure that when his son Aditya made his debut as a director with "Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge", he saw to it that Aditya had the voice of Lata for Kajol, the same Lata who had even sung for Kajol's aunt Nutan and her mother Tanuja. Yash was so obsessed with the voice of Lata that he often said, "I cannot imagine a world and especially my life without Lataji who will never have a greater devotee than me".

    Gulzar was closer to Asha Bhosle because of his very friendship with Pancham (R.D Burman), but when it came to the most sublime songs in his films, he always opted for "Lataji" without whom he felt his poetry lacked life and depth. Lata had all the respect for Gulzar as a writer, lyricist and director that when she decided to produce her very first film in Hindi, she chose Gulzar to write, direct and write the lyrics of "Lekin", the haunting film with Vinod Khanna and Dimple Kapadia and with music by Hridaynath Mangeshkar.

    Lata was like a God-sent for music directors who were struggling to make it big like Laxmikant-Pyarelal for whom she was a saviour right from the first film they scored music for, Parasmani" which was a B-grade stunt film with "A" class music with Lata and Mohammad Rafi singing most of the songs which gave a new life to LP for whom Lata went on to sing more than seven hundred songs. She was the "God-mother" for two other teams of composers, Anand-Milind with whose father, Chitragupt she had sung some of his best songs and then for Jatin-Lalit. She brought back to the limelight a music director like Ram-Laxman with her songs in "Maine Pyaar Kiya" and "Hum Aapke Hai Kaun" and was a great source of inspiration for music directors who were less than one fourth her age. The last time she formed a great team was with A.R Rahman whose dream it was to make her sing his compositions and she more than fulfilled them. She has also recorded bhajans in the voice of her young nephew Baijnath, son of Pandit Hridaynath Mangeshkar.

    She was as much respected in the south as she was in Hindi films and whenever any of the big banners of the south like AVM, Prasad Productions, Gemini Studios and the leading banners of Telugu films decided to make Hindi films, they always made sure that they had "Lata Mangeshkarji" as the singer in their films.

    Besides her massive contribution to films, Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar has brought out several music albums in Marathi and other languages, bhajans, aartis and abhangs most of them composed by her younger and only brother, Pandit Hridaynath Mangeshkar who she sometimes calls her "very strict guru". The last time she had made an attempt to bring out an album on the poetry of great Hindi poets like Harivanshrai Bachchan, Sumitranandan Pant, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Agyeya and other popular Hindi poets, but what happened to that attempt has still to be known.

    In a way, she has gone into retirement as a professional singer, she has not recorded any song in the last few years, but she keeps touch with the latest trends in music and tries to listen to all the new singers and if there are two singers of today she has taken a liking for, it is Sonu Nigam and Shreya Ghosal.

    She now has all the time to herself and is in touch with all the modern technology and is very active on twitter which speaks volumes for the state of the mind of a wonder woman who may have grown in age but is still as young as the Nightingale she was born and destined to be...

    Aap se pehle bhi bahot saare gaane waale aaye aur gaakar chale gaye

    Aap ke aane se sangeet aur gaayaki ke duniya mein ek nayi raunak chhaa gayi

    Aap ki awaaz aaj bhi dharti par, aakash mein aur agar swarg hai toh swarg mein bhi goonjti hai aur goonjti rahegi

    Aap ek shataabdi ke liye nahi hai, aap ek saari umar ke liye nahi hai, aap ek zamaane ke liye nahi hai

    Aap aaj bhi hai, kal bhi rahegi aur aanewaalo ananth kaal tak rahegi

    Aap woh Lata hai jisko na waqt, na badalta hua zamaana chhoo sakta kyunki aap jaadu hai aur aapka jaadu yahaan se qayaamat tak aur qayaamat ke baad bhi rahega

    Lataji aapko janamdin ka mubaaraq kya kahe aur kyu kahe, aap ki koi umar nahi ho sakti na hogi kyunki aap ko banaaya hi gayaa hai aanewaale karodo saal tak ke liye aur uske baad bhi.

    BY ALI PETER JOHN