Wish Lata


Lata mangeshkar, 70
  There's a glow on her face
Alka Yagnik

For me, she's like a member of my family. I've been listening to her songs since I was about four years old. She's like a goddess for me -- someone I've always followed. She has been my inspiration, I've tried to mould my career like hers.

She's perfect -- her voice, the way she sings. Her voice is so beautiful that even if she playbacks for some ordinary-looking actress, her face starts looking beautiful.

She's turning 70, and may she complete at least another 70.

Till today, when I go for work or am travelling in my car, it's not my songs or anyone else's that I listen to. They are always Lataji's songs. She has indirectly been my guru, because I'm still learning from her.

I've met her a couple of times. She's always blessed me and encouraged me. When I was 11 and was being groomed by Kalyanji-Anandji, I'd expressed the desire to watch her record a song. So they took me along for a recording.

The film was Heera and she was singing a song with Mohammad Rafi. I watched her sing and later touched her feet. I still remember what she said to me that day. She said, 'If you want to pursue music, do so. But let me tell you one thing -- finish your studies first!' I was extremely touched and it's something I'd always remember.

I feel there's a glow on her face which is a spillover of her shining voice. Her voice is a very rare combination of purity, innocence, mischief, all rolled into one. The vulnerability that comes through in her voice -- I find that on her face too.

I've heard all kinds of stories about her a lot of them, negative as well as positive. But I maintain that a person whose voice is so pure must have a pure soul. I refuse to believe that such purity does not source from a pure soul. I'm not referring to just her work, that is beyond debate today.

Whenever I'm asked to speak about her, I fall short of words. Every word sounds insipid. How can I express how much I worship and respect her?

As told to Lata Khubchandani

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