Wish Lata


Lata mangeshkar, 70
  Our generation was lucky to work with her

We think Lata Mangeshkar is the only singer who delivers 100 per cent of a music director's expectations -- and in more than just the technical sense of sur and taal.

She has this uncanny instinct of knowing what exactly is going on in the composer's mind when he composes a song. Most of us composers are not good singers, and thus we cannot really sing well enough to convey all that we want out of our own compositions.

But Lata Mangeshkar does not need to be told the finer nuances at all. She guesses at them, and then delivers what is needed - cent per cent! When you hear her sing, you need not wonder how the song must have actually been when the music director had composed it -- because it must have been exactly as she has sung it!

As music directors, we have to oblige and change a note here or a scale there to accommodate a singer's request as s/he may be unable to do justice to a particular part. We have had to do this even with some senior singers and thus compromise on our original creations.

But this never happened with Lata. Some singers cannot bring in the expression we need. Others even overdo it. But Lata is just perfect. There is always an undercurrent of shastriya gaayaki (classical singing) in her vocal delivery. Yet, unlike many classically-trained artistes, she never once loses out on the emotions in the singing even as she is technically perfect.

Our association with her dates back to the early 1950s when we were musicians, and later assistants to Hemantda (Hemant Kumar). I remember her being present when I was playing the famous been piece for Nagin. She, I remember, had some really valid suggestions to offer, because of her very sharp sense of music.

Naturally, it was our dream to start out as composers with her, and our first film, Samrat Chandragupta, had all eight of its songs sung by her, which was an unforgettable beginning for us.

Among them were hits like Mujhe dekh chand sharmaaye, Chahe paas ho chahe door ho, Yeh samaa yeh mera dil jawaan. Not only did she readily agree to sing for us, but also actually helped us with suggestions.

We remember her even making us accompany her to the lyricists' houses if she wasn't satisfied with the lyrics -- we recall several trips with her from our house in Mangalwadi, Girgaum, where she would come for rehearsals, all the way to Hasrat Jaipuri's house in Khar.

We were very close for a long while, and we think that it was our common love for humour which cemented our relationship on a personal level. We used to record mainly at Filmcenter and in 90 per cent of the cases, it was an unwritten rule that she would come to our house for lunch -- she loved our Kutchi food.

We were also the first to make her overcome her fear of the stage and did several shows with her. It was a great honour for us when she won what is her only National Award to date for our song. At the same time, most of our films which won us awards -- Himalay Ki God Mein, Saraswatichandra, Kora Kagaz -- were with her singing all or most of the songs.

On a professional level, our relationship underwent a strain when certain vested interests gave her the impression that we were in the process of creating an alternative to her and constructing an anti-Lata platform.

But, how could anyone touch her heights? Besides, she herself has told us that our discovery, Sadhana Sargam, is the best among youngsters. Even today, we keep meeting at so many functions and she is always extremely courteous and cordial.

Our generation of composers -- Laxmi-Pyare, Pancham and us -- was especially lucky to work during her peak phase. All I can say is that Lata Mangeshkar is Goddess Saraswati's priceless gift to the industry.

As told to Rajiv Vijaykar

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