Lata Mangeshkar – Biography (Part III)
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. 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.
While listening to the song, I was overcome.
I couldn’t control myself.
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’.
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