Lata Mangeshkar is 80

2Sometimes you want to cherish an event, but you don’t have means to do it. Sometimes you would like to be part of the celebrations, but you are not in the inner circle. Sometimes you feel that you are integral part of a person’s life, but you know that you are not. Sometimes, on special occasions, you would love to wish the person in person, but you don’t have the contacts. My feelings for Lata Mangeshkar and my relationship with her is like the above mentioned conundrums.

To say that you don’t know Lata Mangeshkar, is blasphemous. But to say that you know her, is a lie too. So how to define and name the relationship? I was trying to find the answer of these above mentioned paradoxes and conundrums since past few days, when she celebrated her 80th birth day. I am yet to find an answer. But I gathered courage, caught hold of my BlackBerry and started writing this blog.

My relationship with Hindi Film music was ignited and the knowledge of the same was kindled in 1965. I was a 13 year old adolescent and I was studying in the 8th standard in Government Inter College, DEORIA. I had a big HMV radio at my house in DEORIA. I started tuning in and listening the Hindi film songs. There was only two Radio Stations for us during those days and they were All India Radio and Radio Ceylone, which later on became Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. Vividh Bharti was yet to take birth and shape. “ Suraj ” a film starring Rajendra Kumar and Vyjyantimala got released and its songs, tuned by Shankar Jaikishan, were huge hit and immensely popular. “ Baharon Phool Barsao, Mera Mehboob Aaya hai ” , sung by Mohammad Rafi, is still known to the younger generation. “ Suraj ” had no Lata Mangeshkar song and ironically my first introduction to film music was with the voice of Sharda, a protege’ of Shankar. I heard her song filmed on Vyjyantimala in “Suraj ”, Titli Udi, Ud jo Chali ” . It was very popular , but frankly speaking when I first heard it, I could not discern the words and understand the lines. Instead of “ Titli Udi, Ud Jo Chali ” , I used to sing “ Kitni Hasin, Ghode Pe Chadin ”. One day a friend of mine and a connoisseur of film music rectified my mistake. I was ashamed and felt guilty that I was unable to decipher the words. That day I made a negative mark in my mind for Sharda’s voice and singing. After some days I heard a song “ O Basanti Pawan Pagal, Na ja Re Na Ja Roko Koi ” from Raj Kapoor’s film “ Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai ” and I was awestruck. Crystal clear pronunciation, immaculate diction , sweet and melodious voice, it was so different from Sharda’s voice that one could always remember it. Later on I got to know that singer’s name is Lata Mangeshkar. Later on when I heard “ Aayega, Aayega, Aayega, Aayega Aanewala ” from Ashok Kumar and Madhubala starrer “ Mahal ” , I was simply mesmerized. Slowly my knowledge about her grew and later on when I heard songs of “ Dosti ”, “ Guide ”, “Mamta ”, “ Teesari Qasam ” and many other films, I became an admirer and an ardent fan. And on Monday September 28, 2009, when I heard the news of her 80th birthday, I went into my past on a nostalgic memory trip.

I can’t say that I have heard all her songs, but I have heard thousands of her songs in Hindi, Bhojpuri, Bengali and Marathi. I must and should say that she was always brilliant and melodious. As it always happens with all the legends, she also had many detractors. Here I would like to say something about them.

Suman Kalyanpur, Mubarak Begam, Sharda, Hemlata, Vani Jairam and Anuradha Paudwal, they all tried to replace her. They eventually failed and cried foul, is another story. Among above mentioned detractors Anuradha Paudwal deserves special mention, because she stooped very low and used every trick of the trade to displace Lata Mangeshkar. In her interviews she always claimed that she is equally talented and that Lata Mangeshkar doesn’t want her to come in the limelight. In order to prove her point, she started making cover versions of Lata Mangeshkar’s old songs. The very convenient alibi was paying tributes to music directors of the bygone era. She tried her best but failed miserably. After the inglorious murder of her scheming mentor, she faded into oblivion and is now consigned suitably in the trash bin of history. She is still alive but why is she not singing? where is her talent? And what a talent!! The so called talent was recognized only by one person, her mentor. She sang cover version of Lata Mangeshkar’s immortal “ Rasik Balma ” and proved her inferior talent. Her mentor’s company is still thriving but she is nowhere in the reckoning. Her case is just like Sharda, who faded into oblivion and disrespect after being jettisoned by her mentor Shankar. All her detractors have vanished but Lata Mangeshkar is still there and  she just sang a song for ” JAIL “, a Neil Nitin Mukesh starrer . It is needless to say that Neil is grandson of legendary singer Mukesh, who was a contemporary of Lata Mangeshkar. She sang for Shobhana Samarth, her daughters Nutan and Tanuja and Tanuja’s daughter Kajol. She sang for Tara Chand Barjatya’s films and also for his grandson Sooraj Barjatya’s films. She sang for Raj Kapoor’s heroines and also for his grand-daughters; Karishma kapoor and Kareena Kapoor. She sang for three generations of Hindi film industry.   No wonder on her 80th birthday, she was interviewed by none other than Javed Akhtar for CNN/IBN.

Long live the nightingale !


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