The ‘Nightingale of India’ is no more. Lata Mangeshkar, aged 92, passed away on February 6.
What can be said about Lata that has not already been said? That she was a singer par excellence, that there was never quite anyone else like her? That the sheer volume of her work, in so many languages, across so many years, coupled with the quality of her work, sets her apart from not just her contemporaries, but also those that have followed? That there is unlikely to ever be any other singer (at least female singer) who will be able to match Lata Mangeshkar?
I will not repeat what others, including bloggers like Anu and AK have already so beautifully expressed by way of tribute; let it suffice that for me, too, Lata’s voice was an intrinsic part of growing up, of life itself.
I tend not to eulogize people, even those whom I like a lot. The same goes for Lata Mangeshkar. There have been various aspects of her career that I have not liked, and there are many songs of hers, especially from the latter years, that I do not like at all. But I cannot deny that I have a huge amount of respect for Lata in her heyday, as a singer: the sweetness of her voice, the awe-inspiring control, the seemingly effortless way of singing the most daunting of tunes. Many of my favourite Hindi film songs from the 40s onward have been sung by Lata. And many of those, I cannot imagine anyone else singing as exquisitely as she has.
Of course I’ve done a Lata song list before, back in 2010, of Lata in Ten Moods. This one, therefore, is somewhat different: this one is of Lata solos, sung for ten different composers. And, to make it a little more unique, I’ve made sure that I’ve not included any of the songs I included in my earlier Lata songs list. As always, these songs are all from pre-1970s Hindi films that I’ve seen (with one exception, on the cusp), and are in no particular order.
1. O sajnaa barkha bahaar aayi (Parakh, 1960): With Salil Choudhary. “In my career of 30 years in music, I have not known a singer of her capabilities”, said Salil Choudhary of Lata Mangeshkar, the singer for whom he admitted to having reserved his most difficult songs, the ones he thought would challenge her. Of their many beautiful songs together, this is one of my absolute favourites: a song that Lata sang in both Hindi (for Parakh) and in Bangla. The sweetness of Lata’s voice, the youthful shyness she is able to infuse in every word: the young and pretty Sadhana, lip-syncing to Lata’s voice, really looks as if she’s singing, the voice is so believably hers.
2. Awara ae mere dil (Raat aur Din, 1967): With Shankar-Jaikishan. Lata Mangeshkar sang for the composer duo of Shankar-Jaikishan from as early as the 1940s, when they took her on for Raj Kapoor’s Barsaat, and right through the next several decades. In the course of the years, she sang some truly iconic songs for them, from the poignant Ajeeb daastaan hai yeh to the heartbreaking Ruk jaa raat thehar jaa re chanda, to the slightly bawdy Main kaa karoon Ram mujhe buddha mil gaya, which Lata confessed to having been very uncomfortable about singing.
And then there was this one, which appeared in two versions in Raat aur Din. In one version, on a dance floor, Laxmi Chhaya pirouettes and sways, lip-syncing to Lata’s voice as she talks of a heart that’s always restless, always looking for greener pastures. In the other version, there’s a wistful Nargis, lost and adrift in a world that makes no sense to her, but which she’s too fuzzy to do anything except smile at.
I love the different vibes Lata brings to this song, letting it fit perfectly into a dance club ambience in one instance, letting her voice swell into an out-in-the-streets freedom in the other.
3. Ae mere maalik mere parvardigaar (Sohni Mahiwal, 1958): With Naushad. Naushad was another of those composers with whom Lata had a long and memorable stint: a composer who challenged Lata’s voice, giving her some very difficult songs to sing—and some iconic ones, like the classic Pyaar kiya toh darna kya, probably the song most popularly associated with the Lata-Naushad combination.
This song from Sohni Mahiwal may not be as well-known as most of Lata’s songs for Naushad, but to me, it is a fine example of Lata’s control over her voice. Naushad tailors this song beautifully, reducing the musical instruments to the bare minimum so that they do nothing more than frame Lata’s voice, which is perfectly restrained, perfectly in tune. Unbelievably good.
4. Naina barse rimjhim rimjhim (Woh Kaun Thi?, 1964): With Madan Mohan. Lata Mangeshkar had a very special equation with her moonhbola bhai, Madan Mohan: he composed some lovely songs for her, all the way from the wonderful tunes of Raj Khosla’s Sadhana-starrer suspense thrillers Woh Kaun Thi? and Mera Saaya to the melodramatic (yet musically beautiful) songs of Anpadh—and many more.
For me, the seductive, utterly sublime Lag jaa gale from Woh Kaun Thi? is the best song from this film, but since I’d already included that in my other Lata list, here is another of my favourites from the same film. The seduction is there here too, but in a different way: a poignant, elusive style. Lata’s voice has to be heard to be believed. And the way she lingers, gentle, echoing, over the last barse, barse of the chorus: stunning.
There is an interesting anecdote about this song: Lata wasn’t able to find time to record the song before the shooting. Madan Mohan, therefore, hurriedly recorded the song in his own voice, and it was this version to which Sadhana lip-synced during the shooting of Naina barse, much to the surprise and amusement of local bystanders.
5. Dil ka diya jalaake gaya (Akashdeep, 1965): With Chitragupt. Chitragupt, while a prolific and very talented music director, got relegated to composing for mostly B-grade films (several of them mythologicals) fairly early on. He is to be given credit for having composed some wonderful songs even when the films he was composing for weren’t great. Here is one song I like a lot from an otherwise forgettable film, which nevertheless had excellent music. Nimmi in Akashdeep acts a blind woman, who suddenly receives a confession of love from the man she has been in love with all this while. The somewhat awed, shy, I-can’t-believe-my-good-fortune sentiment that comes through in this song is lovely. Just listen to that kaampte labhon ko main khol rahi hoon, and you can feel her wonder at the good fortune that is hers.
6. Kuchh dil ne kaha (Anupama, 1966): With Hemant. Music director and fellow playback singer Hemant Mukherjee was another of those with whom Lata had a memorable association. They sang many duets together, and Lata sang many songs in the films for which Hemant composed. In addition, they sang lots of Bangla songs too, some of them composed by Hemant.
But to get back to Kuchh dil ne kaha, one of Lata’s best songs to Hemant’s music. This song, gentle and quiet, is one that I especially love. Lata, singing playback for Sharmila Tagore’s character, withdrawn and lonely, conveys the depth of emotion in Kaifi Azmi’s lyrics beautifully: the softness and beauty here barely conceal the loneliness underneath. You can hear the pain in this young woman’s heart, neglected and rejected by her father, who can only show his love for her when he’s drunk.
7. Piya tose naina laage re (Guide, 1965): With SD Burman. One of SD Burman’s first big hit songs had been with Lata Mangeshkar: she had sung Thandi hawaayein lehraake aayein for him in Naujawan (1951). She continued to sing for SDB across the years, even though their association was marred by a split that lasted from 1958 to 1962. Finally patching up, they came together again, and SDB composed some memorable songs for Lata through the 60s. Guide (which I personally love primarily for SDB’s music) had some superb songs by Lata, including the iconic Kaanton se kheenchke yeh aanchal and the bitter, betrayed Mose chhal kiye jaaye. The long, intricate Piya tose naina laage re, however is what I choose here: Lata’s a virtuoso here, her voice now alluring, now teasing, restless, yearning.
8. Chalte-chalte yoon hi koi mil gaya thha (Pakeezah, 1972): With Ghulam Mohammad. Pakeezah was Ghulam Mohammad’s tour de force: one brilliant song after another, each song a hit, each song an immortal one. And Lata Mangeshkar ruled this score, with everything from the quietly joyous sunniness of Mausam hai aashiqaana to the seduction of Thaare rahiyo, the defiance of Aaj hum apni duaaon ka asar dekhenge. For me, personally, it’s very difficult to choose one favourite from all these songs, but Chalte-chalte yoon hi koi mil gaya thha was the first song from Pakeezah that I learnt the lyrics to, long ago in my teens, so I have a special fondness for this one. Its lyrics are beautiful, the music is impeccable, and Lata’s voice is stunning. The restraint, the softness, the music of her voice.
Who was it who said “kambakht besuri hi nahin hoti” about Lata? This is one song that proves it. There isn’t a false note here.
9. Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko (Sadhana, 1958): With N Dutta. Sahir Ludhianvi’s brutally hard-hitting lyrics are usually the reason for the praise this unforgettable song receives; most people tend to overlook both N Dutta’s very restrained music as well as Lata Mangeshkar’s rendition. She sings with so much feeling: the cynicism, the sorrow, the quiet fury of a woman railing against the patriarchy of a world of men who engineer the world to suit their own ends. I also find one more aspect of Lata’s singing of this song that is admirable: her diction. Every word is clear, every word is so perfectly enunciated that there is no blurring, no guessing at what this word might be, or that one.
10. Tere sur aur mere geet (Goonj Uthi Shehnai, 1959): With Vasant Desai. And, to end, a song from a composer generally associated with songs that reference classical Hindustani music a good deal. Vasant Desai, who created some outstanding songs for most of V Shantaram’s films, had Lata sing such songs as the devotional Ae maalik tere bande hum and the romantic Nain so nain nahin milaao. Also among Vasant Desai’s greatest hits were the songs he composed for Goonj Uthi Shehnai. With the maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan playing the shehnai Rajendra Kumar’s character plays in this film, Lata was the perfect match for the shehnai, as Ameeta’s voice: how melodious she is, how perfectly in tune.
Just ten composers, and such great songs. I haven’t even mentioned yet all those many, many other composers for whom Lata sang. Kalyanji-Anandji, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Roshan, Ravi, Khemchand Prakash, Jaidev, SN Tripathi, Usha Khanna, Anil Biswas, Sajjad Hussain, Vinod… there were so many others for whom I can think of at least one wonderful song that Lata sang. But perhaps that should be a separate post; she merits yet another post.
Rest in peace, Lataji. May your voice remain, immortal and matchless, for generations to come.
> Who was it who said “kambakht besuri hi nahin hoti” about Lata?
I believe it was the vocalist Khansahib Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. I could be wrong, though.
Very likely. I suppose I could have found the answer if I’d done some Googling, but here, it was meant to be a rhetorical question. :-)
Thank you so much for this post!
As I scrolled down and saw your listing for these unforgettable songs that Lata Mangeshkar had sung with 10 different composers…. (selecting just “these 10” must have been tough!)…I must admit that I was hoping that I would get an opportunity to refer to this song, little known but unforgettable as well, …by Lata Mangeshkar, with composer Vanraj Bhatia: “Barse Ghan Saari Raat” for Kumar Shahani’s “Tarang” (1984).
The late Vanraj Bhatia had spoken in an interview, on how he was asked by the director to set a poem by Raghuvir Sahay, word for word, to raga “Mand Jogiya”– (Bhatia would later add “Bhimpalasi”) to “vilambit ektaal”. The composer came up with what he would call “the marathon song”- one of the most complex in Indian cinema.
It would be the only time that the Lata Mangeshkar had sung for composer Vanraj Bhatia. She was impressed enough to insist on listening to the approved take (featuring Ustad Sultan Khan on the sarangi) something she seldom did….
Lata Mangeshkar had often cited this song, as one of her favourites.
LINKS given below:
to “Barse Ghan Saari Raat” ( on YouTube) and to the story behind this song.
(1) The song “Barse Ghan Saari Raat” on YouTube
Vikram Phukan’s evocative article on how “Barse Ghan Saari Raat” was created, and much more, esp. w.r.t. Lata Mangeshkar.
(3) More info on the film “Tarang”
Too many LINKS (!), but do request you to please make time for the article by Vikram Phukan, (who has written about Lata Mangeshkar, earlier as well).
I will try to read the article sometime later – I’ve too many other things to do right now – but thank you for this song. I don’t think I’ve heard this before. A beautiful song, thank you so much, Praba. Really lovely, even though it’s well beyond the time line of this blog.
You’re very welcome, Anil. Thank you for reading!
I am so torn about her death- I never particularly liked her voice, but damn, she had some of the best words set to music, ever! Plus, I found her politics very problematic, not to mention that there were decades when it was only her voice and none other that was Everywhere. But yes, I agree that her voice was “was an intrinsic part of growing up, of life itself” and so, I am saddened because I feel like we are losing an era and not to move into something equally sublime and beautiful.
I came across this list yesterday: https://agentsofishq.com/sss/lata/
I enjoyed this song collection too- one which focused on songs that dealt with pleasure! What a remarkable list!
I believe it was Bade Ghulam Ali saheb who made that remark about her sur :-).
Question: Why did she and SDB have a fall out?
There are a lot of Lata songs I don’t like either – personally, I can’t bear it when she goes really shrill. And I do think she should have retired long before she actually did. As for all the unsavoury politics… ah, yes. That definitely dulls the shine for me. But I will admit that there are many songs where I think she simply rules. :-)
I loved the Agents of Ishq Lata sexy songs! Aa jaan-e-jaan from Inteqaam was what first came to my mind, but I’m actually glad to see that this list didn’t include what would have been a somewhat predictable song.
There doesn’t seem to be any clarity on why she and SDB had a falling out. She seems to khao-ed bhaav a bit about the recording dates for the songs of Sitaaron ke Aage, and apparently SDB too refused to accept her nakhras and went on to take Asha in her stead. But whether anything more substantial than a clash of egos lay beneath that rift, I’ve no idea.
I have to work hard at separating the artist and their art from their edification, which we are very prompt at doing, nahi? The whole exercise of being able to, for instance, openly critique someone while appreciating and honouring their work and contribution, is something that is very difficult for me to do-maybe because of the Indian culture of worshiping our heroes, buying into and revering their carefully cultivated public persona, and taking personal slight at anything that is said against them. And the notions of morality are so binary in our minds! (But oh, how I digress.)
Which is why I love your post and the one by Agents of Ishq too- they are both about the artist’s art and a personal enjoyment of it, than putting the artist on a pedestal who could do no wrong.
I was tickled pink with the inclusion of Lag ja gale and Naina barse in the lists (one song in each!), but I will insist that without Sadhna the two songs would have fallen straight flat on their faces :-D. Plus, the A of I post made realise that I have assumed that most of those songs in the list were by AB, and not LM, so strong was the image of puritan LM and her song selection in my mind! Which goes to prove exactly what Bombay Rosie was saying!
Also, khao-ed bhaav and nakhras made me laugh so much!
I hope you do a list on LM songs with different male singers- now that would be fun too!
I agree that Sadhana made those two songs come alive! She is simply gorgeous. I remember watching the Tamil equivalent of Lag jaa gale (featuring Jayalalitha), and I couldn’t bear more than a minute of it. The music is the same, the words don’t really matter (since I can’t understand them anyway) but Jayalalitha totally lacks the utter oomph of Sadhana.
Yes, most Indians tend to have a hard time separating their admiration for an idol’s talent or skill from the person as an individual. Which, in the long run, is also dangerous for the celebrity concerned, I think: they actually start to feel they really are the gods their fans believe they are. It becomes this vicious cycle of hubris, fanned by more idolatry, and therefore more hubris… :-(
“I hope you do a list on LM songs with different male singers- now that would be fun too!”
Good idea! I’ll keep that in mind. Thank you for the suggestion!
‘O sajana barkha bahaar aayi’ is one of my favorite songs of her. It feels so fresh everytime you listen to it,doesn’t it?
I have to say “Kambakht besuri hi nahi hoti” had me laughing,it is such an apt description.
She was such an icon of the music industry…she will be missed but never forgotten.
True, she was such an icon – and she can never be forgotten. If nothing else, she was a colossus, a legend in her own right.
Wonderful post Madhu. We grew up listening to her and she leaves behind a void in our hearts that can never be filled.
All the songs you listed are ones that would be on the top of my list too. Dil Ka Diya by Chitragupt is not mentioned often. So, I was delighted to see it in your list.
There are two other solos that stand out for me – Yeh Samaa from JJPK for Kalyanji-Anandji for the soft emotions in the night. And Suno Sajna for LP for the effortless singing.
Also, a 1970s song Ab to hai tumse from Abhimaan stands out for me as a ‘pitch perfect’ song. Notice how she glides effortlessly through the notes – especially the humming part. There is one more that I really love – Tere Sadke Balam for Naushad from Amar. It is like the music and her voice take you on a ride on the waves of music.
It will be very difficult to match her range, ability and emotions for anyone.
Thank you, Ravi, both for the appreciation as well as for the songs you’ve mentioned. I like all of them a lot, and Suno sajna was on my shortlist – which is saying quite a bit, given that any list of Lata’s best songs must necessarily go into the hundreds, I think.
When I first started watching Hindi films, they were from the mid to late 90s, by which time Lataji should have been 15 years retired. Thanks to discovering so many of her golden age gems with the help of your excellent blog, I am able to remember her as she should be remembered. As an addendum, outside the scope of this blog, I do have two VERY late Lata songs I like for the way in which they show her gift in age appropriate ways – Luka chuppi from Rang De Basanti (a favourite, actually) and Tere Liye from Veer Zzzzzzara (a lovely song, shame that 20 years in a Pakistani prison almost seems like a shorter sentence than watching the film). Now I shall compose my memorial play list. We shall not hear her like again
I wish there was a way of listening to your memorial play list, Stuart!
And thank you for those two songs – while I have seen both Rang de Basanti as well as Veer Zaara (oh, yes: the latter… the less said about it, the better) – I had forgotten these songs. I’ve just been listening to them, and loved them. Thank you, again.
Ever since I heard about Lataji’s demise, I was waiting for your blog on her. How appropriate when you say ‘Lata’s voice was an intrinsic part of growing up, of life itself.’
You have been appreciative of non-hindi songs, so today I take liberty of posting my favourite marathi songs of Lataji. Most of them are from non-filmy albums.
‘Vedat Marathe veer Daudale Saat’ is a song written by Gyanpeeth award winner Vi. Va. Shirwadkar aka Kusumagraj and music given by Pt. Hridaynath Mangeshkar. It narrates a historic fight where Sarsenapati Prataprao Gujar along with his 6 trusted warriors attacked Bahlolkhan with his force of 15000 warriors. The warriors lost their lives and bravery is applauded in this song. There is also a hearsay that somebody tried to put down the eminent poet by saying “Is there anything like ‘Charge of Light Brigade’ in marathi?” to which he wrote this poem in one sitting.
Next in line is ‘Sarnar kadhi Ran’ from album ‘Shivkalyan Raja’ dedicated to Shivaji Maharaj. When Siddi Jauhar surrounded Panhala fort with Maharaj stuck on Fort, when he made daring escape attempt on New Moon night. He escaped but Siddhi came to know about it. His forces of started chasing Maharaj and on near base of Vishalgad (another fort) where Maharaj was heading, he was within attacking distance. That is when another trusted soldier, elderly Baji Prabhu Deshpande asked Maharaj to start climbing fort while Baji Prabhu with mere 250-300 soldiers decided to stop Siddi’s forces. He asked Maharaj to fire 3 cannon shots once he reaches fort. Baji Prabhu and his soldiers though grievously injured fought mighty forces till they heard cannon shots only then gave up their life. Again written by Kusumagraj and music by Pt. Hridaynath Mangeshkar, this song depicts Baji Prabhu’s wait for cannon shots.
‘Jayostute Shree Mahanmangale’ is an ode of freedom sung by Lata and chorus. Written by Swatantryaveer Savarkar and music by Madhukar Golvalkar bring goosebumps every time I hear it.
Lyrics are adorned almost to level of Sanskrit scriptures and how easily she pronounces every word crystal clear without missing it’s soul.
‘Sagara Pran Talmalala’ is about yearnings of a despaired person for his motherland. Written by Swatantryaveer Savarkar, and music given by Pt. Hridaynath Mangeshkar and sung by Mangeshkar siblings (except Ashaji) with Arun Date is something that no Maharashtrian would forget.
Lataji was known to be particular about lyrics of the songs and refused to sing vulgar or even naughty songs sometimes. So you will hear very few lavani songs by Lataji as by nature they are come-hither songs. There are 2 types of lavani – One is where dancers dance on stage and second is ‘Baithakichi lavani’ where singer will sit on stage and sing and try to bring out the essence with Mudrabhinay. ‘Rajasa javali jara basa’ is one such lavani written by Na. Dho. Mahanor and music by Pt. Hridaynath Mangeshkar.
3 eminent personalities got together to create sublime lori ‘Neej mazya nandlala’ – Lataji, poet Mangesh Padgaonkar and music director Srinivas Khale. Used by generations as last resort when kids wouldn’t sleep.
Long before ‘Empty Nest syndrome’ got it’s name, Lataji told us what it was through ‘Ya Chimanyano’ from movie ‘Jiwhala’. Penned by the great G. D. Madgulkar and music by Srinivas Khale can move to you tears.
Not many know that Lataji gave music to few movies under psuedonym ‘Anandghan’ (cloud of happiness). ‘Akheracha ha tula dandvat’ is directed and sung by Lataji for movie ‘Maratha Titula Melvava’ directed by Bhalji Pendharkar. Literally meaning ‘Here is my last salute as I leave this place forever’ poignantly accompanied her in her last journey.
I had meant to listen to these songs yesterday, but a domestic crisis came up and completely wrecked my plans. Have been listening to them this morning, and have enjoyed them so much. Especially the Savarkar song (okay, I don’t like his politics, but the music and singing there were wonderful), the lullaby – I can imagine any baby being able to fall asleep with something so soothing. And the last song, in which I identified a little section of music the same as Rahein na rahein hum.
Thank you so much for these songs. I really liked them a lot.
I am glad that you liked the songs. These are rarely known outside Maharashtra. It’s interesting to know that a piece of music in ‘Akheracha Ha Tula Dandvat’ resembles ‘Rahe na rahe hum’ considering both movies were released 2 years apart. Will listen both songs again.
Yesterday I forgot to mention her last album (most probably) ‘Kshan Amrutacha’. Music director Saleel Kulkarni in 2013 published this album. Penned by late Bakibaab (Ba. Bha. Borkar, Konkani and Marathi poet) the songs are of life well lived. The crystal-clear voice is withered but I doubt anyone in their 80’s can hold the tune and still sound soothing. That is why she is legend.
Aata visavyache kshan maze soniyache mani,
Sukhe ovit ovit tyachi odhato smarani
“Now it’s time to rest in peace, along with my golden beads, weaving necklace of happiness, I’m counting my fond memories”
Sandhi prakashat ajun jo sone,
To mazi lochane mito yaavi
Literally meaning ‘Till there is golden light of dusk, let me close my eyes forever.’
Thank you for these. Beautiful.
Wonderful list Madhuji!
I love each and every song on the list. Loved each and every word you’ve written. Thank you for the wonderful post.
It’s just impossible that we can accomodate all our favourites in a single post.
I wanted to start my series on her yearly songs. I couldn’t think of anything else, but to start it immediately. So I started it yesterday.
I am so glad you enjoyed this post, Anupji! I will be looking forward to reading your posts and seeing which songs you select. That will be a mammoth task!
I”ve been soaking in her songs since yesterday, Madhu, and Shalini and I have been exchanging notes on our favourite numbers. And you have listed some more of them.
I haven’t liked any of her film songs in the last three (four?) decades, with a few notable exceptions (the songs from Lekin, for instance) but one can’t deny the fact that the decades preceding that have cemented her legacy. She truly deserved the tag, ‘legend’.
True. I personally think she should have retired several decades before she actually did – because the memory of her later songs is so off-putting, I don’t even want to think about them. For me, the 40s through to the 60s is her peak, and she’s truly fabulous there.
Thanks a lot for this tribute, Madhuji! I share the same sentiment as you about her film songs after the 1980s. She was past her prime. But from the 1940s to the 1980s there were not many who came any where close. I would want to add her song from R.D.Burman’s Chhote Nawab – Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye -which is one of my favourites. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAUXqsaLYd0
Thank you for Ghar aaja ghir aaye – it’s been ages since I heard that song, and I must admit I’d forgotten all about it. Lovely.
I was waiting to read your tribute to Lata – to see what kind of theme you would choose to remember her – since as you said, there is such a large, rich, lovely buffet to choose from. Similar to feelings that somebody else expressed in the comments, I have mixed feelings about how to remember her given some of the politics that are associated with her. Or the fact that while her mastery of the craft was irrefutable, her voice had let her down even in the 70s. Music is my go-to for any emotion, and what I can NEVER deny is that whenever I do that, Lata will ALWAYS be part of my life and in some of the most beautiful ways. So I will forget about all the rest and just bask in the beauty of her contribution to Indian film music.
Lata’s voice in the late 40s and particularly in the 50s is unmatched. Nobody could glide over notes effortlessly like she did, inserting the subtlest of emotions. A lot of credit must be given to the composers in that period who helped her discover the immense capability and capacity of her voice – and then it was like a nuclear fusion reaction – they made compositions to leverage the beauty of her voice, and she breathed divinity into those songs – and it just exploded from there. Her voice in the 50s can still move me to tears just from its sheer beauty. In an article on Lata, Punita Bhatt wrote: “The voice was God’s gift to her; what she made of it is Lata’s gift to God” – I think that sums up Lata for me.
Here are a dozen songs from the 50s that I am using to continue the theme of your post Madhu. They are all from the 50s and there is a common mellow quality to all of them, and they are all solos. I have repeated some of the composers that you chose, added a few less popular composers, and selected songs from the 50s to represent them.
(BTW, the songs that you chose from “Parakh”, “Guide”, “Anupama” and “Sadhana” rank among my top 100 songs of Lata)
1. Anil Biswas – the man who Lata acknowledged in early articles as being the one who taught her so many of the subtleties like when to breathe in a song, how to breath away from the mike. Here is a song of this combination that I love in the film “Aaram” – Mann mein kisi ki preet basaale
2. Jaidev – there is a male version of the song, but it is Lata’s rendition of “Subah ka intezaar kaun kare” which steals it for me. The film is “Joru ka Bhai” – Subah ka intezaar kaun kare
3. Madan Mohan – so many songs to choose from, but one of my favorites that I keep going back to is from the film “Jailor” – right from the first plink of the piano, what a song – Hum pyaar mein jalnewaalon
4. C Ramachandra – (I was surprised to not see him in your list above just cause I see his contribution to Lata as being significant) – there are so many great songs of this pair, but my favorites are from the film “Yasmin” – I could pick one of 3 songs from the film, but if you held a gun to my head, this is my favorite. – Ab woh raatein kahaan
5. Shankar-Jaikishen – where does one begin? But this is the song that I chose. This version is special because it has a verse that is not in the film or more commonly available versions of the song. And Raj Kapoor’s picturization of the song is brilliant. – O jaanewaale mudke zara
6. S D Burman – I struggled so much to find one song to include and picked one, almost hit the “Post” button and then changed it and I am still waffling. Better hit Post before I change my mind again :-) – Sajan bin neend na aaye
7. Hansraj Behl – there are a couple of songs that I can think of from him, but this is a classic – Jab raat nahin katti
8. Sardul Kwatra – probably a more obscure song from the film “Mirza Saahiban” – Tabiyat theek thhi
9. S Mohinder – classic from “Shirin Farhad” – Guzra hua zamaana
10. Hemant Kumar – I side-stepped a host of lovely compositions to pick a lovely but obscure song in the film “Ek Jhalak” – Yeh hawa yeh fiza yeh raat hai
11. Salil Chowdhury – Since the song you picked was in 1960 – technically not the 50s, it allowed me to sneak a song into my choices. A lovely song from “Awaaz” – Jhun jhun jhunaa
12. Roshan – last but not the least – his songs with Lata in the 60s stand out for me more, but his semi-classical song in “Malhar” is my selectino for this list – Garjat barsat bheejat ayilo
Those were my choices – thanks in advance for letting me use your post to let me post my own tribute to Lata.
Thank you so much for these, sangeetbhakt. I have taken the liberty of editing your comment to insert the names of the songs, I hope you don’t mind. YouTube videos have a horrid way of disappearing, and if the song names aren’t included, it may be that someone seeing this comment some months down the line may not be able to figure out which song you mean.
Coming to the songs, there were a couple here that were new to me (I don’t think I’ve ever heard Jhun jhun jhunaa before; it’s a very distinctive song, so I’m sure I’d have remembered it). But several of the others are also favourites of mine, and would certainly have been on my shortlist if I’d spent any time trying to do a shortlist instead of just going with the songs that first came to my mind.
C Ramachandra was one of the composers I wanted to cover in this post, but as it happened, I had already listed ten songs with other composers. That is why he’s mentioned, along with all those others, at the end. Perhaps a part 2 is in order for this list!
I absolutely do not mind at all – in fact, I should have done it myself. Glad you like these songs and that you found maybe a couple that you did not know.
No problem. :-)
What a lovely comment and song list! Thank you :-)
How could you overlook this oh-so-romantic song from YASMIN?
With warm regards from a fellow “Sangeet Premi”
I absolutely did not. I specifically said that there were 3 songs in the film that I could have picked, all of which I love, the one you posted (AaNkhoN me sama jaao), the one that I posted (Ab worh raateN kahaaN) or “Dil unko DhooNDta hai” – and I had forgotten “Mujhpe ilzaam-e-bewafaai hai”. I am maybe just a bit more partial to the one that I picked – but that partiality varies based on time of day or day of the week :-) This film is musically just outstanding – 7 Lata solos, one song with a chorus, a Talat solo and a duet between them. Some are better than others, but they generally range from average to outstanding.
I know that everything and everyone ends, but I really thought Lata would endure forever. Yes, I know her voice *will* live forever but I wanted all of her to live on. Still, I consider myself fortunate to have witnessed and experienced an artist such as Lata Mangeshkar.
True. It does seem so odd that she’s gone. Like, a sort of void. Lata was a colossus, it’s hard to imagine that she’s no more.
You have rightly asserted that there’s nothing to say about Lata which has already not been said. I am thankful to you for selecting 10 real gems from her immense treasure of songs (which itself is a Herculean task). After hearing about her demise, I happened to watch Goonj Uthi Shehnai once again. Tere Sur Aur Mere Geet (based on classical raga Bihaag) is an extraordinary song by all means and perhaps none else than Lata could do justice to that.
I am sharing an interesting personal fact with you that when in 2004, I participated in the audition for Zee TV Sa Re Ga Ma, I (instead of a male voice song) preferred to sing Lata’s song Har Khushi Ho Wahaan Tu Jahaan Bhi Rahe (Upkar-1967). And whenever someone asks me to sing (in a private gathering), my first choice is Lata’s song Ab To Hai Tumse Har Khushi Apni (Abhimaan-1973).
How interesting that anecdote is, thank you for sharing it.
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You have selected the great classical song Naina Barse Rimjhim Rimjhim and mentioned Lag Ja Gale which has always been the most popular song of Woh Kaun Thi but my choice of Lata’s song from this movie is different. Here it is:
Oh, yes. Jo humne daastaan apni sunaayi is another beautiful song.
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Lata did not sing many non-filmi Ghazals. However her joint album with Jagjit Singh (a legend in his own right) – Sajda was a huge success. I like the following solo Ghazal of Lata from this album very much:
I remember this collection of ghazals, and Meri tasveer mein rang aur kisi ka toh nahin is a beautiful song. Lovely.
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One Ghazal we recently discussed at length on Anup ji’s Blog (MEHFIL MEIN MERI) was this 1961 recording of a Ghalib Poem, set to Music by Ustad Fayyaz Ahmed Khan and rendered so evocatively by Lata ji. It is certainly worth repeating it here
With warm regards,
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Thank you, Parthaji, for this. I had never heard Daher mein naqsh-e-wafa before. Beautiful.
It’s a wonderful & swift post on the occasion. Ten solo songs of Lata Mangeshkar by ten different composers. All the songs have been wisely chosen !
If I have the liberty to post her songs with yet other composers, I shall include her songs from Kavi Kalidas, Panchayat & Ek Saal composed by SN Tripathy, Iqbal Qureshi & Ravi respectively.
If a chorus is considered as a solo song, the song Mujhe Na Bulaao from Suwarn Sundari & composed by Adinarain Rao is Lata’s wonderful song.
Thanks for a wonderful post for the legend.
Thank you so much for these songs! Sab kuchh lutaake hosh mein aaye was on my shortlist, so I’m especially glad to see you post it. I don’t recall having heard Aayi aayi bahaar aaj re, what a wonderful song. Shaam bhayi Ghanshyam na aaye is also superb.
Lata ji’s everlasting song Aa Laut Ke Aaja Mere Meet from the film Rani Roopmati was another beautiful composition by SN Tripathi.
Oh, yes. This one is very beautiful too. I had a song from Rani Rupmati on my shortlist: Aaja aaja bhanwar:
I am a huuuuuuge fan of this song. Her singing, her breath control – just brilliant. If I had only remembered SN Tripathi, this would definitely have been the song that I would have included in my list. Thanks for reminding me of it.
Yes, it’s a great song. I also really love the one that precedes it. They make a stunning pair of songs.
Madhu you have selected all major music directors of her era except Roshan.
Little tribute to this combination from the movie Mamta.
Thank you for this, Naghma. Rahein na rahein hum was on my shortlist, but the fact is, I like Tera dil kahaan hai so much more, it has made me not quite adore this song as much as I used to! Silly of me, but still. It is a beautiful song, though.
Madhu, I wanted to mention how much I like your paragraph that starts with “I tend not to eulogize people…” The thoughts that you express so well here pretty much mirror my own. There are things I don’t like about the story of Lata Mangeshkar, including the fact that she monopolized Hindi film music so much starting in the 1950s (well, first she did, then she and her sister did). Not only did Lata sing so many of the songs in Hindi films at this time (and we all have read rumors about how much she made sure it happened this way), but she apparently determined the dominant style of singing too. Part of the reason I like the music from the ’40s so much is because of that fantastic array of different female voices and singing styles that did not last into the ’50s. (And, of course, those included Lata’s initial mentor, Noor Jehan – who I have sometimes said impressed me more than Lata did, though not without saying that I thought Lata was the next-best. :) ) On the other hand, as you pointed out, it is very unlikely that anyone else could have sung Lata’s best songs as “exquisitely” (a perfect word for it!) as she did. Of course, I also agree that she did not sound as great in the latter years – though I think you probably know many more of those latter-year songs than I do.
Another thing in this post that I obviously agree with is the selection of the picture at the top. You may have noticed that I put the same picture into the top of my blog’s side bar. I had not seen your tribute when I did that – in fact, I don’t think you had posted it yet. (Hmm, maybe I should change the picture on my blog now. :) ) I suppose that a lot of people know about that picture – though I cannot remember where I found it, myself; it had been sitting in my computer files for quite a while.
And, by the way, your selection of songs is very nice, too – as I expected it to be; it almost goes without saying. :)
I agree with the not-over-the-top eulogising and with good reason, especially the ones Richard mentions here. That said, an amazing body of work, songs which are perfectly exquisite and growing up with that UBIQUITOUS voice makes me remember Lata Mangeshkar with some nostalgia …
So randomly the first song that came to my mind…
Pankh hoti toh aati re.. from Sehra
A seemingly simple song… not so simple to sing and a relatively unknown Music Director
ak, good to see that you agree with some of the things that I mentioned. :) I also am very fond of the song you posted. I’ve often thought that Sandhya had one of the best faces to go with Lata’s voice. Do you know that for Teen Batti Char Raasta, in which Sandhya played a singer who was revered for her performances on the radio (but also discouraged from being seen much, for various reasons), V. Shantaram deliberately directed Sandhya to wear a braid and dresses, etc., that mimicked Lata’s style? :) I’m trying get a Lata list done for my own blog, and out of seven to ten Lata songs that I’m going to post, I think at least two will be Sandhya songs.
@ak: Thank you for that song! I have an amusing anecdote to share regarding Pankh hote toh ud jaati re. Ages back, I remember watching a programme on DD, where a singer – a very accomplished one, but not famous at all – sang several well-known songs. Not parodies, the actual lyrics – but with some twist in the picturization that made them funny. For instance, she sang Pardesi ne mujhe bulaaya (Parde seene mujhe bulaaya?) sitting hunched over a large curtain, stitching its hem. Another song was Pankh hote toh ud jaati re, for which I’ve forgotten the picturization, but basically the gist was that Pankh hote toh ud jaati re Russia o baalma.
Lame, in retrospect, but we kids thought it pretty funny. :-)
@Richard: I hadn’t known that about Sandhya’s character in Teen Batti Chaar Raasta. Thank you – interesting bit of trivia.
Here is a melodious number from TBCR, picturised on Sandhya with her flowing braid
A bigger headache for the Director was to maintain the same shade of dark make up on Sandhya.
With warm regards
That is a nice one, Partha.
But I always think of the number below – it’s my favorite from the film, and here, you can really picture Lata singing in the studio. :) (I have a good paragraph about this song in my own Lata songs list/tribute…if I ever get to finishing it).
I remember Apni ada par main hoon fida, this one’s pretty apt, given what you mentioned about Sandhya’s character being modelled on Lata. :-)
It’s been too long since I watched this film, and I’d completely forgotten about Kitna meetha hota hai. Thank you, Parthaji: nice song.
You’re welcome, Madhu – it’s great to see that I have provided you with some Hindi film trivia that you didn’t know before! :)
“Of course, I also agree that she did not sound as great in the latter years – though I think you probably know many more of those latter-year songs than I do.”
Given the sort of ubiquitous way in which current Hindi film music has always played in India – everybody seems to blare it out, on radios, TV, phones, whatever the most popular current form of entertainment – it’s impossible to stay away from it. And Lata, given that she continued to sing on till far beyond when she should have retired, was there everywhere till pretty late. I remember hearing her voice – and it was distinctive, because she sounded her age, unlike the younger singers who were already coming into vogue – in so many songs.
The introductory portrait shot of Lata’s is from back when I first published a Lata song list – I couldn’t be bothered with uploading a fresh one for this post, so I reused that. :-)
Could it be that I found that picture in your first Lata song list and downloaded it from there before I forgot where I had gotten it? :) It’s a funny thought, but I don’t think so… I still wish I knew exactly where it came from first.
I have no idea, either! It’s in many places across the net, so I assume it’s in the public domain somewhere.
So, while I agree with some of the comments above, I would like to offer a counter-perspective or pushback on others.
I will start out by saying that I am not particularly a fan of the sound of songs from the 40s, either the orchestration or the style of singing. I felt like the style often lacked subtleties, and while the orchestration by composers like Pankaj Mullick was interesting and different, it was not in the same ilk as what came later.
I don’t think Lata influenced the dominant style of singing as much as composers gravitated towards it. It is my belief that her voice and style (that she evolved on her own or was she was capable of) descended on Hindi film music like a brilliant light and composers were enamored by it. One sees other singers like Geeta Dutt evolving their style to adapt to this. So, it was the composers and not Lata that changed the course of the sound. And then composers (like Shankar-Jaikishen) seemed to have this penchant to use the fact that her voice could scale high octaves and over-used it – the downside in my mind – because not all singers could do that, and even Lata’s own voice failed to co-operate after a point.
I am not sure Noorjehan was Lata’s mentor – she was a dominant voice in the industry when Lata started, and an amazing singer. I am sure Lata tried to or was asked to emulate Noorjehan but not sure that I think of the former as her mentor.
I have a lot of problems with how Lata tried to monopolize the fact that she was the most sought-after voice, based on various rumors that have doggedly pursued her. However, I have great respect for how she rose to that stature – for a single woman to have achieved that in a ridiculously male-chauvinistic environment speaks to both Lata’s talent, and her political skills. There was a comment about a strong female character (Rosalind Shayes) in the TV Show LA Law which I loved “Roz is very good at was she does. She’s a brilliant lawyer and a brilliant businesswoman. If a man did what Roz does, he’d be accepted. A woman doing it seems to horrify people.” and I think it applies here as well. Maybe she took it over the top. The one thing that bothered me a lot about Lata was her re-writing history – often after the people that could contradict something had passed on. I saw that older interviews had her being more honest about the contribution of composers and others, but over time, it became a lot more self-aggrandizing. And then there would be a fan(atic)s and yes-men who would make outlandish claims that would take on a life of their own – like the erroneous claim on the # of songs she sang which I saw being referenced again in the wake of her death.
Anyway, that was enough rambling on my part.
I hope your “domestic crisis” has resolved without tears–!
Thank you for this lovely tribute. “Naina Barse Rimjhim Rimjhim” is one of my favorite songs ever, but it had not occurred to me to relisten to it in the past few days before your list reminded me. I don’t know if this terminology transfers appropriately to filmi music, but it’s so harmonically rich! A couple of these songs were new to me, of which “Dil Ka Diya Jalaake Gaya” was especially lovely. I think I am finally becoming myself again after having lost a couple of days in Lata-nostalgia.
Thank you, Shelomit – yes, the domestic crisis was resolved soon enough. When you have a naughty eight-year old at home who will do what she pleases, no matter how often she’s warned of the possible consequences of the damage she might do in the process… such crises are fairly common here!
I’m glad you liked the songs, and I think I know what you mean by Naina barse being harmonically rich. I always feel the same way about Ajeeb daastaan hai yeh too:
Eight-year-olds are a tricky lot that way ( ;
The ranch where I grew up was too remote to get a radio signal, so when my grandmother visited, she insisted on driving to a milo field every Saturday to listen listen to a local program called “Western Swing and Other Things” on the truck radio. Once cell phones became a thing, she was so excited to be able to call into the radio show and request her favorite Jim Reeves song:
So, although I love “Ajeeb Daastaan Hai Yeh” in the context of the film, it makes me chuckle to hear it in isolation! I can only think of Jim Reeves swaying in his little Western suit and my grandmother jamming out in the cab of the pickup truck.
Anyway, to cleanse your blog from the unwonted country-and-western influence, here is another favorite harmonically varied Lata song:
Given that my parents are both great fans of Jim Reeves and we used to listen to his songs a lot in our home, I am surprised I haven’t heard My lips are sealed before. Yes, I can see the resemblance to Ajeeb daastaan hai yeh, but I do agree with Anu (below) that what Shankar-Jaikishan did to that base tune is beyond everything – really a case of just being ‘inspired’, rather than lazy. C Ramachandran in Aa ja re aa more piya, for instance, takes the easy way out and makes so few changes to Volare that it’s blatant:
Thank you for Tere sadke balam; lovely song.
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I feel as though I ought to clarify that my purpose in bringing up “My Lips Are Sealed” was not at all to diminish “Ajeeb Dasataan Hai Yeh” or to accuse Shankar-Jaikishan of nicking the tune in a “gotcha!” kind of way. I am personally fascinated whenever melodies are reused in a different context from the one in which they were first introduced. My academic work involves studying that phenomenon in nineteenth-century sacred music. “My Lips Are Sealed” and “Ajeeb Daastaan Hai Yeh” are both excellent songs; Shankar-Jaikishan’s version demonstrates thoroughgoing craftsmanship within one genre, while the Jim Reeves version (composed by Hal Blair, Ben Weisman, and Bill Peppers) does the same in a very different one.
It is both a surprise and a delight to learn that your parents liked Jim Reeves ( ;
No, no: I didn’t at all think you were doing a “gotcha!” thing for that tune at all. So no worries, there. And, the truth is that a lot of tunes were filched, some pretty blatantly too, with not very much being done that would let the Hindi ‘composer’ really be worthy of the credit he/she is given for the song.
Jim Reeves – along with Pat Boone, Doris Day, Perry Como et al – were very popular among the more hip and Westernised Indians back in the 50s and 60s. My mother grew up in Calcutta, which was far more Westernised than much of India; and my father, thanks to a brother who was a musician in cinema (and listened to a lot of Western music), ended up knowing a good bit of what was being played and sung in the US. My mother’s favourite, by the way, is Elvis. :-)
Dear Madhu ji,
While not relevant to the Topic under discussion, this is the Original, for those not in the know :
[ Imitation is the best form of flattery ]
Parthaji, the ‘original’ is but a pale version of Ajeeb dastaan hai ye – yes, the base melody is the same, but SJ’s composition is thousands of miles ahead of this that there is no comparison! They have taken what’s a banal tune and turned it into a rich tapestry of both melody and music. Call it ‘inspired’ but imitation it certainly is NOT! :)
Dear Madhu ji,
That was a Rap on the knuckles for me :-) I stand corrected.
With warm regards
Sorry, that should have been “Dear Anu ji”.
Parthaji, not a rap on your knuckles, not at all! :) Just a mild disagreement, and that because, I find a lot of people who seem to spent their time looking for the English equivalents of Hindi songs to cry, “Plagiarism!” The funny part is many Western songs were also taken from old folk songs; melodies were inspired by older melodies and so on and so forth.
If you take a look at Beethoven’s compositions, you will find there were a few where he was directly inspired by Mozart. That does not take away from Beethoven’s prodigious talent.
My apologies, if you thought I was schooling you. I wouldn’t do that to anyone.
Dear Anu ji,
My humble apologies for this belated reply – I was busy waging my own war with WordPress and I am not so sure about who is winning :)
At times, people like me deserve a good bashing – “schooling” as you so politely put it!
There are only 7 Notes and there are only so many scales; thus there are bound to be similarities. I have banished the word COPY from my Musical Vocabulary and replaced with INSPIRE!
Here is one more example of “Inspiration”. One reason why SD Burman so readily agreed to Roshan borrowing his tune of “Thandi Hawaein” was the fact that SDB too had been inspired by this Song, sung by Charles Boyer
Every time he sings “C’est La Vie” one can hear “Thandi Hawaein”, or am I imagining things?
Please feel free to pull me up, when I goof up.
With warm regards
Oddly enough, Parthaji, I found that Shelomit had posted a comment with another clip of the same song by Jim Reeves. Shelomit’s comment had gone into moderation by WordPress and has only just been approved, but it’s similar to yours.
I agree with Anu, though: this is more inspiration than a blatant lifting of a tune; SJ, in my opinion, really added pizzazz to what was a very straightforward, even rather boring tune. I always think some of our best MDs managed to do that very well; Ravi’s O babu o lala, for example, is to me miles ahead of Rum and Coca-Cola.
Dear Madhu ji,
This particular Post of yours will remain active for the next 5 years at least as I intend to add one of her songs everyday :-)
Seriously, here is a song that all of us will be proud of – she sang it without any Instrumentation, from the 1958 Film MEHNDI, perhaps the first of several Hindi Films on Umrao Jaan, composed by Ravi, strong accusatory Words by noted Urdu Poet KAMIL RASHID :
With warm regards
I had never heard this one before, though I have been meaning to watch the film for a while now. Thank you so much for this, Parthaji – beautiful song.
Dear Madhu ji,
Here is one more moving song from the same Film, this time with some accompanying instruments. Hope you like it
With warm regards
PS : I have declared war on WordPress :-)
Pyaar ki duniya lutegi was new to me, thank you, Parthaji.
Thank you for the lovely tribute. It must not have been easy to select 10 composers and a song from each of them.
One of her songs that I like is Jyothi Kalash Chhalke. I loved Meena Kumar’s performance here. It was so natural. I was born in a village and spent all my vacations there. This song brings back all those memories.
Thank you for this! It’s such a lovely song. I’ve had this film waiting t be watched a long time now, I think I should see it soon.
Hi, Madhu. This is indeed an excellent review of Lataji’s songs. Like others I’ve also been waiting for your blog on the songs of India’s nightingale, and you didn’t disappoint. I also love “O Sajna barkha bahaar aayi’ , and Naina Barse’ . And of course ‘Lag ja gale’ is my all time favorite. It has now also become one of the nation’s favorite, thanks to You Tube. And I do agree that Sadhana did indeed bring alive the songs of “Woh Kaun Thi” , she looked bewitchingly beautiful in all its songs. In an interview to “The Times of India”, Lataji said that her top three all time favorite songs were ‘Tu jahan, jahan chalega’ , ‘Lag ja gale’ and ‘O Sajna’… al featured on Sadhana !.. Of many of Lataji’s songs of the 50’s, were excellent.. ‘ Mehfil me jal uthi shama’ , Hamaare dil se na jaana’, ‘Tum na jaane kis jahaan me kho gaye’, ‘Guzra hua zamana’, ‘Thandi hawaayein’ ‘Mera salaam leja’, ‘Ichak daana’ etc. and her songs of the 60’s were legendary, some of which you ,mentioned. I do agree with you that her voice became shrill and off key with age, and that she should have stopped singing much earlier. Best wishes.
Thank you so much! I am so glad you enjoyed this list. I hadn’t known about Lata having mentioned those songs as her favourite, but even when I was compiling this post, I was thinking to myself: some great songs picturized on Sadhana.
Unfortunately, I have not heard most of the songs mentioned here., but I m a diehard fan of Lata songs from 1948 to 1964…mostly the songs set to tune by CRamachandra, MadanMohan and Shankar -Jaiikishen. …My tribute is in sites.google.com/site/decadesbacksongs .
Very learned people steeped iin the science of acoustics and musicology are discussing ‘shruti-purity’. in the context of classicall music of south india. That set me thinkiing and searching my memory for the song that would be the last word for shruti-purity.. ‘Aajaa ab tho aajaa’ by Lata- Anarkali- CRamachandra.
What is the raagam of that song? May i know?
Thank you for the lovely photo of LATA. She was indeed a homely beauty. !
I’m sorry, but my knowledge of Indian classical music is nil. I appreciate it, but I know next to nothing of it, so I can’t help you with the raag of Aaja ab toh aaja; perhaps someone else will be able to identify that for you.
Thank you for commenting.
Msdam, Thank you for your kind response. How do you find time, to read and write so much, so beautifully? I have read quite a few of your old Hindi film classics.. and am perfectly in sync.
here is the youtube link to ‘aajaa ab tho aaja’ – Anarkali- CRamachandra
– A few years back, I was commenting that instead of giving images only, we can give youtube links to songs. and then you had correctly explained the problems…I now wish that , you stuck to your previous
pattern. “as almost invariably, the visuals take away the loveliness of Lata’s great singing.”
May I share the links from my website ?
https://sites.google.com/site/decadesba … amachandra
https://sites.google.com/site/decadesba … dhan-mohan
https://sites.google.com/site/decadesba … -jaikishan
https://sites.google.com/site/decadesba … s-d-burman
https://sites.google.com/site/decadesba … l-chaudhry
Stiill in the process of editing the site
Thank you for those links. The first one opened fine, but there was some problem with the others. No problem, because I can explore the site through the first link, I think? I’ll do that, hopefully sometime soon.
“I now wish that , you stuck to your previous pattern.”
I’m not sure what you mean, because I’ve not changed the pattern I’ve followed since I began this blog. :-)
I read your review of ‘Householder’ last night. Leela Naidu was an elfin lovely. but the film was focused more on the hero . Anuradha on the other hand was almost entirely an exercise in bringing out her extraordinary loveliness and charm. Why not a write up on Leela?
I’m sorry, but removing the links to the other pages is not possible, and just not feasible. Even I, when I visit the site (which I do fairly often, while compiling fresh posts), need to use those links. In any case, having those links there should not make a difference in the time the page takes to load.
Also, while I could encourage readers to ‘give the video-link in plain text’, that doesn’t work. As soon as you copy and paste a URL, it automatically converts to a hyperlink and embeds the video. Besides, I’ve seen that encouraging people to do anything doesn’t really work. I’ve lost count of the number of people whom I’ve asked to please write the name of the song they’re referring to instead of just posting the video, but they still don’t do it. :-)
I just don’t know enough about Leela Naidu to write a post about her, so will pass that up.
Madam, I will have to check with other blog-web sites. The major problem is that with google sites,, if the link is ever so sllightly changed, we are asked to sign in with the emails . That is an unwanted risky security attack. May I request you to remove that comment totally?
Several people have commented in response to your comment, so deleting it will mean deleting the entire thread, which I think is unfair. So I’m editing it to leave only your comment about Leela Naidu there.
Re. Leela Naidu:
This is with reference to your Query re. Leela Naidu.
If you were to send me an email I could send you “excerpts” from write-ups on a book by Leela Naidu with writer Jerry Pinto:
“Leela – A Patchwork Life” pub. by Penguin Random House in May 2010.
This is not an autobiography. It is a collection of anecdotes, narrated by Leela, which illuminates aspects of her life and personality.
“A Patchwork Life” is a memoir that is charming, and idiosyncratic and …..much more.
Leela’s life was about ‘staying in the moment’.
Everyone who met her has a Leela Naidu story.
This is her version.
The “excerpts” themselves make for an interesting read, but I do not not wish to post them here.
It is likely that copies of the book are available.
Prabha Madam,…Thank you very much. I have sent mail to you. Best Regards
Have sent you (on Email), the excerpts of write-ups on the book : ‘Leela – A Patchwork Life’. Hope you do get a copy of the book. Enjoy!
A brief note: No ‘madam’ please, and no ‘h’ in my name.
Dear Madhu ji / rsrs,
You can have it cross checked, but a friend informed that the Song
“Aaja ab toh aaja” is a combination of two Raags, namely Raag Pahadi and Raag Shudh Kalyan.
Partha-ji,….Thank you very much. I will check up the raga. But i feel that it is one ragam only, some close to HM Bairavi, or Maand, the latter more likly. It souunds close to bhool jaayen saare gam duet—Lata and Rafi-
Nousherwanae ae dil.I may be wrong, however. Thank you for the help.
Dear Madhu ji,
WordPress must be having a graveyard of sorts where ALL the Comments that it swallows up are kept buried. In the last 7 days alone, it has gobbled up at least 5 of my Comments, the most recent being a reply to Anu ji on her last comment to me. I’ll have to send her an EMail .
I came across an Old Post of yours where you have labelled the Film NAUJAWAN as a “One Song Wonder”. I think you overlooked this melancholic number
With warm regards
This is very odd, Parthaji. Usually, if WordPress suspects a comment has (perhaps) too many links or is otherwise suspect, it sends it into moderation, where I am immediately able to see it and approve, if fit. None of your comments have recently come for moderation, and I can’t see anything in the spam folder either. I think WordPress simply swallowed it up, how frustrating.
Dil ka dard na jaane duniya is a nice song, but when I talked about one-film wonder films, the idea was that the film is remembered primarily for one song, which I feel is the case with Thandi hawayein and Naujawan.
To begin with, a clarification:
This is not in response to the previous comment(s).
I happened to come upon this very interesting tribute to Lata Mangeshkar
(had me riveted!) in “The Telegraph (Calcutta)”.
With Madhu having moved on to “a new theme”, I was wondering if I should still give the LINK to this article by Arijit Mukherjee:
“Mogara Phulala”: A harmonica player’s tribute to Lataji.
‘To understand her ouvre, one has to go through her body of work in Marathi and Bengali, especially with the three greats, Salil Chowdhury, Madan Mohan and Hridaynath Mangeshkar’.
With more comments coming in on Lata Mangeshkar, I felt I had to post this LINK to Arijit Mukherjee’s article.
As it happens, besides the LINK given by the writer to “Mogara Phulala” (Audio with lyrics), no other LINKS (on YouTube etc.) have been given by the writer. I guess you will look out for them yourselves, if interested.
The article itself makes for a good read!
Thank you for sharing this article, Praba. Very interesting!
An excellent tribute to the legend.
I am fond of all the songs mentioned in the post and of course, many more of Lata did with these composers.
Hope there will be follow-up posts with other composers too.
We have all grown up listening to her songs day in and out. There has always been a Lata song for very event, occasion or milestone of our life.
One assumed that like her voice, she would stay with us in person too!
There have been some comments about how she should have retired decades ago.
Dr. Mandar Bichu in his book, ‘Lata – Voice of the Golden Era’, has discussed this very well in the chapter – Why did Lata continue to sing beyond her prime?
I had been thinking – though not with great purpose – that perhaps all the composers I had to drop from this list because of paucity of space should be covered in another list. Or more than one, since Lata, after all, sang for so many composers, even in the pre-70s era. Your comment has spurred me on to beginning to compile a follow-up post, so thank you for that inspiration!
“Why did Lata continue to sing beyond her prime?”
I have too many books already piled up to read, so I don’t know if I will ever get around to reading this. Please, if you don’t mind, can you give some indication of what prompted her to go on singing till so long? Thank you.
I can surely share the views expressed in the book.
Is it ok to post them here?
Of course, please do.
I am just posting here the views expressed by the author Dr. Mandar Bichu in his book on Lata:
– We live in an imperfect world and Lata did not or rather could not choose the right time to quit.
– Though In mid 70s, Lata’s voice started to show signs of war & tear, the years went by with plenty of commercial success, live foreign programs, some good (even great) film and non-film songs.
– The post 1980 period would have been the ideal period of retirement as her voice was becoming a pale shadow of her earlier self and the music quality was going rock bottom. Possibly, one could see here a lack of insight, the typical curse of highly successful and over-competitive artistic personalities. She was no longer able to critically look at her own work. Artistic and aesthetic considerations took a backseat as commercial success became the only measure and justification for her continuing career.
Another angle of looking at her decision – In 1969, she stopped accepting Filmfare awards. Even before 70s, Lata must have realized that it was indeed impossible for any artiste (including her) to better what was done in Golden Era. So, it was now a matter of going through the paces of life with the current flow.
Most artists have a narcissistic attitude and so, doesn’t seem an odd decision to continue singing. It can also be considered as a natural human tendency to hold on to youth and fame. It must have been hard to resist the opportunities of remaining in the limelight of the growing print and electronic media.
Also, it must have been difficult to convince oneself about your best days being over, when you have your biggest commercial successes in the creatively diminishing period. Even with her falling vocals and lower output, she had amazing box office successes. The booming sales of the film tracks must have been proof to her that she was still the best in business. Even while singing at lower standards, she was way above competitors in delivering blockbuster songs.
So, in last few decades, there were two Latas – a past Lata, the greatest singer and a present Lata who provided an occasional glimpse of the glorious past.
Music directors and film makers who kept repeating her, must also be blamed for her long and stretched career. Looks like, they must have okayed a below par Lata song as the final take and the composers should be blamed for lacking the courage to ask for a retake.
Lack of brutal, honest criticism and iconic treatment may have fanned a misplaced confidence in her about her ability to roll back years. 70 year old singing for a 17 year old was not realistic and it is surprising that no one from her camp told her to take a break from such an exercise.
This, of course, diluted the overall impact of a great career.
Thank you so much for sharing that. It makes perfect sense, and I agree with all of it.
May I share a very rare ‘LIVE’ video of very young LATHA in 1950 ? She was just 20 then. She looks so very serene and charming , in her luxurious double-plait. This is not a film clip but I am told that it is from her own site. She is singing Malkauns.
Dear Madhu ji,
Time was when noted Musician V BALSARA was Composing Music for VIDYAPATI (1964) and was adamant that only Lata Mangeshkar could do justice to this Song. But for some strange reason, she was not keen on travelling to Calcutta to record the Song. Balsara roped in “good friend” Hemanto who intervened and Balsara was asked to sing the notes to Lata over the telephone. On hearing the tune, she readily agreed to come to Calcutta and did not charge a paisa as fee nor the travelling and other expenses.
This was the song that she sang
( मेरे नैना सावन भादो ……..from the 1964 Film “VIDYAPATI” )
( poor quality Video )
With warm regards
Very interesting anecdote, Parthaji. Thank you so much; I hadn’t heard this song before.