Golden Era

Lata Mangeshkar – Biography (Part II)

Rendezvous with Mysteros

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.

Kishore Kumar & LatajiIt 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.

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!.

Mohd Rafi , Lataji & Mukesh 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.

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.

Part I – Lataji
Part III – but, It’s the art that followed her…


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