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Available on  gplay  » Movies » PIX: Lata Mangeshkar on Nutan, Mumtaz, Madhuri
This article was first published 11 years ago

PIX: Lata Mangeshkar on Nutan, Mumtaz, Madhuri

Last updated on: December 31, 2012 14:53 IST

Image: Nargis
Photographs: Shashikant Kinikar

Lata Mangeshkar has lent her beautiful voice to actresses for generations -- from Nargis and Mala Sinha to Kajol and Preity Zinta. And the ladies do ample justice to her songs.

In her priceless 2013 calendar, Lataji gives us interesting trivia about the songs -- and the women -- she has sung for.

Here's a look, in her own words:


Nargis will always be remembered as a talented, beautiful and a popular actress on the silver screen but also a homely woman with a pleasant personality who took up lot of social work during her lifetime.

I still remember our first meet. I had finished recording for the film Mahal. Nargis and her mother, the famous singer Jaddanbai, were sitting outside the studio.

Jaddanbai praised my rendition of the song that was just recorded and asked me my name.

I replied: "Lata Mangeshkar."

She said: "You are the daughter of Master Dinanath."

She used to know my father, Master Dinanath who was a famous actor and singer of the Marathi Theatre. Jaddanbai was particularly impressed with my pronunciation of Urdu words. Nargis was ready with her makeup for the shooting of the movie Lahore for which I had given playback.

In the year 1949, films like Andaaz and Barsaat were released. My songs in those films as well as Nargis's performance were highly appreciated and immensely popular. Since the film Awara, Nargis used to attend my recordings. We started conversing and established a close bond.

I still remember the recording of the song Ghar aaya mera pardesi. The recording started at 9:30 in the morning and finished at 3:50 AM next day! Raj Kapoor and Shankar-Jaikishan took every effort to make this perfect. Once the recording was over, all of us were tired. Nargis had prepared sandwiches for all of us. It was a nice gesture from one of the leading actresses of those days.

Nargis got married with Sunil Dutt in the year 1957. She took a break from films and got busy as a housewife. She was involved in social work. She worked for Sunil Dutt's production house, Ajanta Arts. I have given playback for her film Raat aur Din which was completed by Nargis after hard work and diligence. This film was completed after her marriage.

Nargis's journey from an actress who dazzled the silver screen to a content housewife was witnessed by me. Her untimely death has left a lasting imprint on me.

Meena Kumari

Image: Meena Kumari
Photographs: Shashikant Kinikar

She was the tragedy queen for Hindi films. She was also a sensitive poetess, blessed with simple but graceful beauty more like the lead female characters from Sharat Chandra Chaterjee novel.

Meena Kumari started as a child artist in mythological films. But it was the movie Baiju Bawra which gave her the real break. My songs in that film were very popular.

Meena Kumari was tailor made for specific roles. She was a quintessential Indian woman. Due to this reason, the characters of a dedicated wife, lover, mother and a sister in law were portrayed by her in a very convincing manner. These were very well received by the audience as well. I loved her beauty dressed in a Bengali Saree, her measured and graceful movements and the emotive dialogue delivery.

I liked her roles in the films Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi, Dil Ek Mandir, Aarti, Bhabhi Ki Chudiyaan. Films like Kohinoor and Azad were pure entertainers which were hits. But Meena Kumari was the epitome of serious and sensitive mode of acting.

Meena Kumari was an admirer of my songs. She used to discuss her favourite songs with me.

Bimal Roy had offered Meena Kumari a guest role for the movie Do Bigha Jameen. He wanted a lullaby for this movie and this was to be without any musical instruments. This was Music Director Salil Chaudhary's first movie in Mumbai. I suggested to Salilda that the sound of the organ should come from the headphone and I will take care of the rest. It is a challenge to sing songs of this kind. But it is after this hard work that a melodious song like Aa ja ri nindiya tu aa was born.

I sang for Meena Kumari for the film Pakeezah. She was very ill during that time. The film was released which was accompanied by the sad news of her death. Indian film industry lost a sensitive actress.


Image: Madhubala
Photographs: Shashikant Kinikar

Madhubala was a beautiful gift to the Indian film industry. She was extremely beautiful but was a talented natural actress and was blessed with a lovely smile.

I was recording the song Aayega aanewala for the film Mahal. Music Director Khemchand Prakash told me that the actress on which this song would be filmed will not be seen on the screen. It will just be a glimpse or a shadow of her. For that very reason, they wanted an effect which complements the suspense and the mystery of this situation.

I had to sing the prelude Khamosh hain zamana and make it sound like this voice is coming from a distance. Once this is done, the timing of Aayega aanewala had to be spot on. It was then decided that I will stand 25 steps away from the microphone and start singing walking slowly towards the microphone. This take was okay after a lot of attempts.

The studio was full of dust and finally the song was recorded. This song went on to create history and Madhubala was a witness to this happiness. But I met her after some time as both of us were busy with our work.

I saw her once as she was leaving the studio. She was wearing a brown coloured dress and was a scarf. Along with youth and beauty she now also had success and popularity after Aayega aanewala. I was extremely busy and did not have a moment to spare. The sublime beauty greeted me and proceeded elegantly for her work.

The period after that was very busy both for me and for the actresses. We used to meet and converse. Madhubala used to mention explicitly in her contract that she needed the voice of Lata Mangeshkar as her playback. I believe Saira Banu and Meena Kumari had similar clauses in their contracts.

Madhubala had invited me for dinner as well. I have good memories of the song Pyar kiya to darna kya from the movie Mughal-e-Azam. Anarkali's voice echoes through Sheesh Mahal had her reflection is seen on the mirrors. The Music Director Naushad had asked me to overlap the Alaaps in this song.

This song is the central theme of the movie. The movie was black and white while this song is shot in colour. The movie was a hit. Madhubala was suffering from heart ailment during that time. Some scenes were shot using dummy artistes and Madhubala is seen as an image.

I was the playback singer for her last film Jwala. Youth and beauty are short lived but the impression that Madhubala has left on the silver screen still stays intact and just like her...beautiful!


Image: Vyjayantimala
Photographs: Arun Puranik

I admire Vyjayantimala as a great danseuse and an actress.

I had been to Chennai for some work. She had invited me to her house. I did not sing for her first film Bahar. I met her grandmother Yudagiridevi and her mother Vasundhara Devi. Both of them were accomplished artists. The family was well cultured and courteous. She has still kept her passion of dance alive. This is a quality that I admire the most.

Vyjayantimala performed most of the dance oriented roles in films and complimented the dance with her acting skills. The songs and dance sequences of Nagin were instrumental in the film's success. Her dancing skills and my songs in the movies Kathputli, Nayi Dilli and Madhumati were highly appreciated by the audience.

I liked her performances as an actress in the films Devdas, Sangam and Madhumati.

I spent the entire day in the recording of the song Hoto pe aisi baat from the movie Jewel Thief. I think Vyjayantimala has put in a same amount of effort in the dance for the song.

Some years back, I met her in London in a shop. She was thrilled to meet me. She told her friend, "Lata Didi has sung wonderful songs for me. I am indebted to her."

Waheeda Rahman

Image: Waheeda Rahman
Photographs: Arun Puranik

Flawless beauty, dancing skills and outstanding acting qualities define Waheeda Rehman. With these qualities she has created history.

She made her debut in the latter half of the decade of 1950. She climbed the heights of success in a short time. All of us used to extremely busy with recordings and shootings. Even during this hectic schedule, Waheedaji used to call me and tell me that she has liked my songs.

The film Guide is considered as a milestone in Indian cinema. This was an important film and achievement in Waheedaji's career. Her dances and acting in this film is top notch. She has looked breathtaking in this film. The songs like Piya tose naina lage re, Mose chal kiye jaaye and Kaaton se kheech ke ye aanchal are a hit with the new generation as well.

Waheedaji is an excellent compere. We had invited her for our America tours to act as a compere. I loved her performances in Khamoshi and Teesri Kasam.

Her personality radiates the essential characteristics of an Indian woman. Her attire and her understanding of the character being potrayed has always been graceful.

She has performed the roles of an actress and a home maker with perfect balance. She looks beautiful as a character artist.

I have rendered my voice to many songs from her black and white films like Ek Phool Chaar Kaante, Ek Dil Sau Afsaane, Bees Saal Baad, Kohra, Reshma Aur Shera and Dil Diya Dard Diya. These were super hits.

But my favourites are from the film Mujhe Jeene Do. These are Tere bachpan ko jawaniki duva deti hun and Raat bhi hain luch bheegi bheegi. One is a lullaby and the second is a dance number. Both have been enacted to perfection on screen by Waheedaji.


Image: Nutan
Photographs: Shashikant Kinikar

If one has to rank the actresses by their acting prowess, the name of Nutan will be at the top.

Around 1950, Shobhana Samarth had visited me. She was making a film named as Hamari Beti. She was the director of this movie. The music was by Snehal Bhatkar.

Nutan had come for the recording. She was tall and had lovely, expressive eyes. She must have 13-14 years old at that time and was deeply engrossed in the song that was being recorded. After this I had given playback to the film Nagina in 1951 in which Nutan played a role. In a short time, Nutan was ranked amongst the top heroines of that time.

Shobhana Samarth had made necessary arrangements to see to it that Nutan learns the intricacies of acting as well as becomes a trained singer. She had a very good sense of music. It is due to this reason that her presentation of the song on the screen used to be very natural. The gestures and emotions that take place while singing a song used to be enacted by her to perfection. A prime example of this would be the song Manmohana bade jhoote from the movie Seema.

I liked her performance in the movie Bandini. She has given excellent performances as a character artist.

After a long communication gap, Dada Burman called me and his in his typical Bengali accent said, "Lota, I have a good song, the poet is a new one -- Gulzar, but the song is a wonderful one Mora gora ang lai le.". I forgot what all had happened in the past and said yes to Dada Burman. He was like a father to me. Nutan has portrayed this beautifully on the screen.

Nutan was an accomplished actress who has created a benchmark for acting in films. Her career was short lived which is a matter of sadness for me.

Mala Sinha

Image: Mala Sinha
Photographs: Shashikant Kinikar

Many aspirants had lined up in Mumbai in the decade of 1950. I was extremely busy during those days. It was difficult to spend time with family and friends during this hectic period. I made good friends with very few people during that time. Mala Sinha was one of those.

Mala Sinha was from Nepal. She was a singer and a big fan of our songs. She used to visit us. As she was a connoisseur of music, she used to attend the recordings.

That was a musical period. I have given playback for lots of Mala Sinha songs. Love Marriage, Maya, Unpadh, Hariyali Aur Rasta, Himalay Ki God Main are some those films. The songs of Unpadh were very popular. Naushad was very happy with the songs of these films, while the great Madan Mohan had congratulated me after the recording of Aap Ki Nazaron Ne Samjha.

After her marriage, Mala Sinha went to Nepal and is now happily settled with her family. I am not in touch with her but have fond memories of the close bond that we shared.


Image: Nanda
Photographs: Arun Puranik

Nanda was the loving 'Choti Behan' of Hindi Films. She is a talented actress. 

When I first saw her, she was a six month old baby and I was twelve and a half years old. My father, Master Dinanath Mangeshkar passed away in 1942 in Pune. I used to work as a child artist for Praful Pictures of Master Vinayak. I used to adore this little sweet daughter of Master Vinayak. I used to like to dress her up. Soon, Master Vinayak went to Kolhapur and then in 1945, came to Mumbai. We accompanied him.

The mahurat of Master Vinayak's film Mandir was completed in Mumbai. In this movie, Nanda has played the role of my younger brother.

On 19th August 1947, Master Vinayak passed away. This was a great shock for us leaving our families in disarray and the film incomplete. I had to find some work to make the ends meet. I now had the responsibility of my siblings on my shoulders.

V Shantaram helped out Nanda and her family in this situation. He gave her an opportunity in the movie Toofan Aur Diya. Nanda gained popularity and success due to her hard work and talent which is praiseworthy.

Nanda worked with most of the leading actors of the day. Later, she worked as a character artist. I have given her playback for many songs.  Choti Behan, The Train, Jab Jab Phool Khile are some of the memorable films for which I have given playback to her. My favourites are the two bhajans from the movie Hum Dono, Allah Tero Naam and Prabhu Tero Naam. Nanda has enacted these songs wonderfully on the screen and these songs have become memorable.


Image: Sadhana
Photographs: Arun Puranik

Sadhana is my favourite actress. She used to effortlessly blend in various roles ranging from a realistic film like Parakh to glamorous films like Mere Mehboob and Rajkumar.

Sadhana arrived on the film scene when the industry was witnessing a decline of black and white films and the advent of colour films. New technology and actors were on the rise. During this time, Sadhna left a mark with her beauty and acting abilities.

She was an admirer of my songs. She used to be present for my recordings and was a keen observer. I liked her roles in Asli Nakli, Parakh and Prem Patra. She used to deliver her dialogues in very emotive manner. A beautiful Sadhna dressed in simple Bengali saree and sings O sajna and Mila hain kisika jhumka. These are my favourite scenes from the movie.

She had once come to the recording accompanied by her husband, Director R K Nayyar. He started explaining the situation to me. Sadhana stopped him and said, "Lataji knows and understands everything."

She is blessed with a pleasant personality, beauty and acting abilities. Sadhana now lives a retired life.

Saira Banu

Image: Saira Banu
Photographs: Arun Puranik

Dilip Kumar considers me as his younger sister. Hence Saira is my younger sister-in-law. She has gone beyond this relation and built a close bond with me.

The 1951 film Jungli gave Saira the much needed break. At that time Saira used to look like a ravishing and petite Kashimiri rose. She took up a big responsibility in her life. Today, she is taking very good care of Dilip Kumar Saheb and with utmost responsibility handles her large family. I truly admire her.

Saira's grandmother Shamshad was a great singer and her mother Naseem Banu was a beautiful actress. I was frequently invited to their house and we used to have a nice time chatting over lunch and dinner.

During the filming of the movie Jungli, Jaikishan had called me urgently. Rafi had sang the song Ehsaan tera hoga mujh par for the hero. Jaikishan wanted this song for the heroine, Saira. The song was played for me on the screen and then based on the lip movement; I sang it on the microphone. Saira has done a great job enacting this song on the screen.

Saira calls me on the phone frequently and updates me on the health of Dilip Kumar.


Image: Mumtaz
Photographs: Arun Puranik

We used to live in Walkeshwar before moving to Peddar Road. Mumtaz used to stay on the floor above us. I still remember a six year old Mumu who was extremely pretty and a good dancer.

Mumtaz had to face a lot of struggle to get into films. She has done small parts, roles in stunt films and B grade films. It is only due to her hard work and qualities that she became an A grade heroine. She starred opposite top actors like Rajesh Khanna, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand, a feat that I highly appreciate.

V Shantaram had given an opportunity to Mumtaz and she made most of this opportunity.

A young Mumu grew up in front of me. She had an excellent film career and is now settled with her family. Her daughters are also happily settled. We are all fond of Mumtaz and her family.

My songs in her films were very popular. Especially the song, Bindiya Chamkegi. Mumtaz brought a fresh breeze into the films which were liked by the new generation.

Jaya Bachchan

Image: Jaya Bachchan
Photographs: Arun Puranik

A young girl who sings a prayer in Guddi, Mrunmayi from the novel of Ravindranath Tagore and the playback singer, Uma from the film Abhimaan. I fell in love with all these characters. But when I met the real Jaya Bhaduri -- now Jaya Bachchan -- and now when I see her after 40 years, my admiration for her has only grown.

I was recording for Pancham in a studio. Amitabh and Jaya had visited us. They were not married at that time and had come to hear me sing in the recording. I had no issues with that but they left soon after. Don't know what Pancham told them!

After this I met Jaya during the recording of Abhimaan. She was sitting right in front of me and was observing me keenly. It was then I learnt that she was playing a role of a playback singer. She had come to the recording on the suggestion of Hrishikesh Mukherjee. I liked the way she covered her shoulders with the saree, the distinct hairstyle, the way she postured herself in front of the microphone.

Jaya is a talented actress but also a dedicated mother, wife to a world famous husband, dutiful daughter-in-law and now a doting grandmother and mother-in-law. She is now a member of parliament and hence is a role model for many Indian women.

I do not meet her regularly but she keeps in touch via phone. She often complains that I meet Amitji more and not her. I admire the Bachchan couple who are well cultured and have a keen interest in literature.

Hema Malini

Image: Hema Malini
Photographs: Arun Puranik

Many South Indian actresses have made a mark in Hindi Films due to their acting and dancing prowess.

When she debuted in 1968 in the movie Sapnon Ka Saudagar, her acting abilities were under scrutiny. But this actress mesmerised the audience with her beauty, acting abilities and dancing skills. Today four decades have passed on since her debut but Hema Malini has still retained her old charm.

She has worked with great actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar, Dharmendra, Jitendra, Shashi Kapoor and Dev Anand. The most important thing is that she has kept her passion for dance alive.

She has trained her daughters in dance. I have had the opportunity to watch her programmes dedicated to dance. I feel great respect for her life which is committed to dance. My entire family is a big fan of Hema Malini. Hema Malini likes music and admires the music of Hridaynath.

I appreciate the disciplined life of Hema Malini and her dedication to her work and family. I like her films Seeta Aur Geeta, Khushboo, Kinara and Abhinetri.


Image: Rekha
Photographs: Arun Puranik

If you are well versed with the story 'Ugly Duckling' by Hans Anderson, then you know the story of Rekha. Her story is very similar to the majestic Swan who glides away to glory.

When the daughter of Gemini Ganeshan came to Mumbai, not many took notice of her. But in a short time, she confidently she climbed the stairs of success and attained immense popularity. She created a place in people's heart. I am one of those fans.

On her way to success, Rekha worked very hard on her language and acting skill which is praiseworthy. I liked her movie Utsav. Other films that I admire are Silsila, Ghar, Khoobsurat, Umrao Jaan and Khoon Bhari Maang.

I love Rekha as a human being. We share a great rapport and a close bond. We converse frequently over the phone. Sometimes she becomes my mother and I become her daughter. The flow of love is perennial.

Dimple Kapadia

Image: Dimple Kapadia
Photographs: Mangeshkar Family

R K Productions had now completed 24 years. The entire team was brand new. During this time, a pretty young girl from Bobby had greeted me with a bouquet. Raj Kapoor must have asked her to do so.

Even after 40 years, I still remember a lovely Dimple Kapadia clad in a skirt and blouse. Since then she has matured into a capable actress and is now a loving grandmother. The early shyness has now given way to confidence which I admire a lot.

The film Lekin was produced by our Dinanath Kala Mandir. We chose Dimple to be our leading actress in the film.

I was present during the shooting of one of the sequences in the film. The filming of Suniyo ji araj maariyo was underway.

Dimple told me, "This is a very tough song. This is a challenge for me."  

I replied, "This is the reason that you are turning and twisting your neck, am I correct?"

Dimple replied, "What should I do Didi, I am not able to take in deep breaths the way you do"

I want Dimple to do more films and enjoy her family.

Padmini Kolhapure

Image: Padmini Kolhapure
Photographs: Padmini Kolhapure

Padmini is my niece. She is my cousin Pandharinath Kolhapure's daughter. But today I am talking about Padmini, the actress.

I spent my childhood with Pandharinath. Music was a binding force between us. Padmini was named after one a leading female character in one of my father's play.

Padmini sang along with me in the movie Yaadon Ki Baraat. She played a role as a child artist in the movie Satyam Shivam Sundaram and then built on a very good career. I had given playback for Padmini in Satyan Shivam Sundaram. I have varied my singing style for Zeenat and for Padmini in this film.

I liked her performance in the movie Prem Rog. She has led an extremely balanced life with the right mix of movies and family. I admire her a lot for this feat.

I still feel that she could have become a good singer.

Madhuri Dixit

Image: Madhuri Dixit
Photographs: Shashikant Kinikar

When the name of Madhuri Dixit started gaining prominence, I had reduced my workload. New faces and voices were getting recognised. My voice has not been used for Madhuri on a selective basis. The songs of the movie Hum Aapke Hain Koun...! were super hit. I became a fan of Madhuri due to her beauty, her dazzling smile and natural dance. She left her career in the mid way, got married and went to USA.

When she returned to India, we decided to felicitate her on the behalf of Master Dinanath Pratishthan on the occasion of the death anniversary of father- 24 April 2012. Balasaheb Thackeray agreed to grace this function. This was a memorable function.

The contribution of Maharashtrians to the Hindi film industry has been invaluable. Madhuri has taken this contribution to a new high.