Posted: 23 March 2006 at 4:36pm | IP Logged
Little Lata, came home after watching K.L.Saigal's 'Chandidas' directed by Nitin Bose and declared that she would marry Saigal Saab when she grew up. Here begins, Hindi filmdom's most enduring love story. Between Lata Mangeshkar and Hindi film music. A story of passion , commitment and sincerity . A story that has taken on the awesome dimensions of legend .A story that has charmed and enchanted millions all over the for more than five decades .
Probably no other single person is recognized as the largest contributor to film music . no one else is synonymous with power and magic of Hindi film music , whose mesmeric reign continues to amaze critics and devotees alike.
Pandit Dinanath Mangeshkar could little have predicted that the eldest of his offspring would be named 'the Nightingale of India' . 'The undisputed and indispensable queen of India's playback singing' as Time magazine avers . 'The Living Legend'... The 'Phenomenon'...
When seven year old Lata played Narad, to her father's Arjun, despite his protests that he was so much older, already she was showing sings of maturity and sobriety that would remain her trademark characteristics, when she had "Don't worry Baba, I'll manage. I am , not your daughter for nothing". On that momentous evening in Sholapur, little Lata brought the house down with her acting and singing . Glimpses of brilliance that would light up celluloid like a meteor. Despite detesting acting, Lata played several cameo parts in Hindi and marathi films including Pahili Mangalagaur (1942), Maze Baal (1943) , Badi Maa (1945 ), Subhadra (1946 ) Chimukla Sansar (1943) , Gajabhau (1944 ) ,Jeevan Yatra (1946 ), Mand (1948 ), Chhatrapati Shivaji (1952 ). Domestic responsibilities compelled Lata to act, after her father's untimely death. In her first film Pahili Mangalagaur, she played actress Sneprabha Pradhan's sister.
In Badi Maa, starring Noor Jehan, Lata acted, sang for herself and for younger sister Asha. Financial hardships, her own artistic struggles notwithstanding, Lata has never lost sight of the priceless value of humility and hard work. As her father and guru has impressed on her "Never be carried away by your success". This lesson has stayed with Lata throughout her life .. She wholeheartedly throws herself into every song, opening up the inner meaning of the lyric, building a bridge to that musical godhead. And yet this phenomenal talent, this divine benediction has never clouded her balance, mature temperament . Arrogance is said to be the ruin of genius. But not this genius , as Waheeda Rehman so rightly points out - 'Lataji never thinks of her self as THE Lata Mangeshkar. She has always done her job to the best of her abilities and then never looked back'. Here than her lifetime's span of music from one who has shaped ,defined and stamped with her indelible identity the from course of hindi film music.
Thirteen year old, Lata recorded her film song for Vasant Joglekar's Kirti Hasaal. Pt Dinanath was not too pleased with her daughter 's decision to sing for hindi films. Later Joglekar said 'she has tremendous self- confidence. She is also an introvert. That is why she is not proud. But she reveals her pride in her singing'. And perhaps it is this pride that prompted Majrooh Saab to say 'It isn't as though she always got great lines to sing. She was given the same standard of lyrics as others. It is the magic of her voice that elevates the songs that she sang'. 'Magic in her voice', 'pride in her singing' has elicited comment and admiration from her numerous friends, admirers and colleagues.
It was during her struggling days that Lataji met Kishore Kumar, Kishore da recollects the amusing circumstances in which he met the pint-sized phenomenon. Lata was on her way to meet Khemchand Prakash for whom she sang 'Aayega Aanewala'. When the conservative Lata saw a strange man going to the same place as her, she presumed the worst. Little knowing that their destinies would be intertwined and remembered in the many duets they sang together.
1949,was the breakthrough year for Lataji. Four years earlier veteran composer Mst. Ghulam Haider from Sind had accompanied the young Lata, to meet a leading producer in the hope that she would be given a song in the forthcoming film starring Kamini Kaushal. The tone-deaf producer rejected the eager nervous aspirant's voice as too thin and soft. The outraged Haider , who had earlier discovered Noor Jehan, prophesied 'Let me foretell today that this girl will soon put to shade everyone else including Noor Jehan. Producers and singers will fall at her feet begging to sing in their films'. And so it was to be. In the year 1949, a phenomenon erupted and one after another hits followed "Uthaye Ja Unke Sitam", "Aayega Aanewala", "Dheere Se Aaja Ri", "Chale Jana Nahin" and "Jiya Beqarar Hai."
Songs that set the path for Lata's sublime musical odyssey Noor Jehan whose singing style influenced Lataji's erly numbers has no hesitation in saluting the art of Lata Mangeshkar. Noor Jehan states 'People say Lataji considers me a phenomenon . I say that's her humility. Lata is Lata. No singer , like her has ever been born'. Generous words and an unflinchingly honest evaluation of music phenomenon who swept all competition out of sight.
Tuning maestro Sajjad Hussain says , 'The most important aspect of singing is 'sur'. Without it the purpose of music is defeated. To date I haven't heard anyone as melodious as her'. Lataji's 'sur stritha' or amazing mastery over pitch and scale , led even great maestro Bade Ghulam Ali Khan to exclaim 'But she never sings out of key!.'
As long as there's Lata I'm safe the exacting perfectionist Sachin Dev Burman is said to have exclaimed , when he heard that musicians intended to strike, threatening to paralyze all record activity. Sachin da was not the only composer of his generation to have felt safe in Lataji's hands. Naushad, C.Ramchandra & Madan Mohan, gave their unconditional best to create musical miracles to match the perfection of Lata.
Some of the finest compositions that Lataji has sung in her incredibly long & successful reign, were composed by Madan Mohan . Such a wonderful understanding between two talented minds, provoked O.P.Nayar to comment in an interview in Dubai in 1992, 'I don't know whether Madan Mohan was created for Lata or Lata for Madan Mohan. But there has never been a composer like Madan Mohan nor a singer like Lata.'
Lata's dedication and unrelenting humility ensured that the rapport between her and the music director enriched every song that she sang. Even Salil Chowdhary saw no use for other female vocalists. 'Practically all my songs have been sung by Lata . I've rarely felt the need to turn to someone else. Lata is a trained singer and so versatile. She can sing anything from classical even frothy songs. Lata is a phenomenon . She is one of a kind.' When Naushad composed 'Mohe Panghat Pe' he called aside Lata and said I've created this tune only because you are going to render this song. Who else could to justice to this composition.' 'Whenever she left her chappal outside the recording room, everyone passed by the door of our studio as though it was a doorway to a temple of Goddess Saraswati.'
Generations of composers, heroines and film makers have looked upto Lata as their source of inspiration. Raj Kapoor regarded Lataji as a re-incarnation of Goddess Saraswati. He made an entire film 'Satyam Shivam Sundaram' on her incredible vocal skills. Films have sold on the strength of her vocals and gone on to become history. Lata has reigned through Father and Son composing teams. A rare honour for a rare artiste. Sardar Malik and Anu Malik, Roshan & Rajesh Roshan, S.D.Burman & R.D.Burman, Chiragupt & Anand Milind.
Co-artistes have been kept on their feet by the small wonder. Duets with Lata were always a healthy competition between colleagues. Rafi, Mukesh, Kishore, Manna da would be amazed by the sudden last minute improvisations in the final take. Improvisations that took the song beyond the stipulations of the compositions into the realm of eternity. This unpredictability, this heightened anticipation gave that added edge to scores of duets sung with other legends. Much of this friendly rivalry was indulged in by Lataji with another formidable artiste Mohd. Rafi . Workaholic, perfectionist, master technician, brilliantly versatile Rafi matched her 'Gayaki' note to note. And yet, sometimes she took even his breath away. Perhaps it is this unpredictability that enhances Lata's genius as she continues to pit her talents against younger co-artistes, always managing to either steal the entire show or making that little extra impact.
Her versatility is linked to her intrinsic sensitivity as this anecdote proves. Bimal Roy once persuaded Salil da to sing a complex Bengali song. Salil da obliged and was alarmed to find that young Lata had fainted. She confesses, 'While listening to the song, I was overcome. I couldn't control myself.' Moving sentiment is the hallmark of any Lata song. It is her ability to reach inside the lyric, to probe the nuances of moods, so skillfully balance changing cadences that make her so much in demand.
She brings adaptability across generations and even within the life-span of an artiste. Remember the wide-eyed child woman appeal of Dimple in Bobby in 'HumTum Ek Kamre' ad you think of Lata. Remember the evolved mature, sensitive Dimple of Lekin on 'Yaara Seeli-Seeli' and you think of Lata. Trends have changed, technology has come to play a crucial role yet over the past decade the mega-hits have remained with Lataji. So who can accuse young directors like Jaitn-Lalit , Anand-Milind, Vishal Bhardwaj, Uttam Singh & A.R.Rehman when they flock to her and clamour for her participation in their personal success.
As Lataji's voice has matured and mellowed, her style has remained distinct. Lata clones proliferate but when the original grows richer who wants imitations? For somebody who started by imitating Noor Jehan's style, Lataji has brought film playback a long way and played a definitive role in delineating the epitome of feminine expression.
Lataji's own spontaneity perhaps plays a role in her constant improvisation. Lataji's easy sense of humour among friends is a little known secret. As is her famed banter and jokes in the recording room. Perhaps Lataji retains the child in her. Hidden behind her glasses, her austere white sarees, her long disciplined tresses, is a giggly girl who reveals in warm family moments, games & playful interludes with young nephews & nieces.
True creativity can never be condemned it often spills over into other arts. Lataji is a much respected non-film performer. By her own admission, she finds her non-film compositions more challenging than her film songs. No Lata can forget , the album of her Meera Bhajans composed by Hridaynath Mangeshkar, 'ghazaldom' best selling album composed by Jagjit Singh & 'Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon' the song that brought tears to the eyes of Panditji. Lataji declares that her patriotic songs are so deeply moving , because she truly loves her country and through her voice is willing to do anything for her motherland.
True Talent never goes unrecognized and that has been true of Lataji. Recipient of 4 filmfare awards, the Padma bhushan & Padma Vibhushan in 1989 & 1999 respectively, a mention in the Guinness Book Of World Records and the only Asian to have received the Platinum Disc of EMI London, Lataji personifies the true artiste.
Relentless in her quest for perfection, effacingly humble, publicity shy, simple and doggedly diligent. At a public function she said 'I believe in past deeds and reincarnation. The fact that all of you have come here and showered me with your best wishes and given the feeling of fulfillment, what else can it be but the fruits of my past birth? Disregarding differences of caste, region, religion people have always welcomed me with great love. They have showered boundless affection on me for the past so many years. Can I forget this?' And so I salute the real 'Legend'. The inspiration of film music. A beacon of hope, courage and endurance. A shining light of perseverance . Yash Chopra rightfully says 'Usually it is an artist who follows the art. But in Lataji's case, it's the art that followed her'.
I have not written it this time..simply copy and paste. It is damn good so thought of sharing it with you all!!
Edited by musicpulse - 23 March 2006 at 5:13pm