28 September 2012

The Legends: Lata Mangeshkar

28.09.1929
If I found it difficult to write about Kishore Kumar, how much more difficult is it to write about Lata Mangeshkar? What can one say that has not been said before? She is truly a legend, one who has straddled generations with seeming ease. The past seven decades have seen her sing for countless heroines. Sadhana once said that heroines felt they had ‘arrived’ when Lata Mangeshkar lend them her voice.  At her best, she was peerless.  

It is not that there weren’t good singers before her, or after. It is just that when she burst on the scene and found her bearings, there was no one who could match the purity of her voice or her control over pitch. Kambakth kabhi besuri  nahin hoti is what Bade Ghulam Alisaab  had to say after listening to her sing Ye zindagi usi ki hai. What is more, she made it seem effortless. 

Perhaps being able to hold pitch at an impossible octave was also her weakness. It certainly made music directors give her compositions that were pitched higher and higher. She once complained to Shankar-Jaikishen that they were making life difficult for her by only giving her songs in the higher octaves.   

It is difficult, nay, well nigh impossible to choose her ‘ten best’ songs or even my 'favourite' songs from her oeuvre. I have ‘favourites’ that run into hundreds. I have no idea then how to categorise this selection – By heroine? By music director? By mood?  I do not know. 

Out of the many, many songs that I love, here, on her 83rd birthday, I have picked a few solos, in no particular order, which will always be close to my heart. They display her amazing range, and a gamut of emotions. (Lata Mangeshkar was known to ask about the character’s age, her background, and the situation,  before recording the song.) 

Khemchand Prakash
1. Aayega aanewala 
Mahal (1949)
Music: Khemchand Prakash
Lyrics: Naqshab
Full of hope and longing for a lover who will come one day, the singer wonders Tadpega koi kab tak be-aas be-sahaare, then reassures herself, Lekin yeh keh rehe hain dil ke  mere ishaare – aayega aayega aanewala – he will definitely come. 

This is definitely the Lata song, the number that catapulted her into the top league. She was 20. From its haunting beginning – Khamosh hai zamana, chhup-chhaap hai sitaarein - she had it under perfect control, each note ringing true and pure. Exquisite! 
Producers Ashok Kumar and Savak Vacha, and music director Khemchand Prakash had a difference of opinion about the song, but the latter stood firm, so sure was he of his composition. Eventually, the veteran music director’s opinion prevailed, and they recorded the song.

Director Kamal Amrohi had a vision of how to evoke the mood and atmosphere that he was looking for through this song. In order to create the effect of the song coming from far away, Lata stood in the corner of the studio, far away from the mike. She began singing the alaap, walking towards the mike as she did so, and then sang the refrain ‘aayega aanewala’ as she reached the mike. They repeated this process many times to finally record the song. It took them a whole day.

Even after the recording, producer Vacha remained unconvinced. However, upon release, the song justified its music director’s belief. Unfortunately, Khemchand Prakash passed away not knowing of its success. In those days, the singer’s name was not credited on the music disc. Therefore, when the song was released, it was credited to ‘Kamini’, the name of Madhubala’s character in Mahal.  

Lata & Salilda
Courtesy: rediff.com
2. O sajna barkha bahaar aayi  
Parakh (1960)
Music: Salil Choudhary
Lyrics: Shailendra
This is one song that will rank among my all-time favourites. I love the cheery pitter-patter of the rain, the sheer exuberance (albeit quiet) of love, the notes that trill and ebb with such ease – the music, the lyrics, the singing, the picturisation where a luminous Sadhana, in love with the village school master, is enjoying the rains, its music echoing the beats of her heart – this is one song where they all meld into that harmonious romantic whole. It never ceases to make me smile. 

Salil Choudhary’s compositions were not easy  to sing. There were so many high notes and low notes that the musicians were often flustered, but Lata Mangeshkar enjoyed singing them. In this song, listen carefully to how the notes rise and fall in the antara - Aisi rhim-jhim mein o sajan, pyaase pyaase mere nayan tere hi khwaab mein kho gaye – and then rise to a crescendo with Saanwli saloni ghata... Beautiful! 
(Parakh has another of my favourite numbers – the softly rendered Mere man ke diye, which was Lata's personal favourite. Salilda was a genius!) 

In an interview, Lata once said, "Over the course of my life I have worked with over a hundred music directors. Of these, perhaps only ten understood both music and cinema. And of these ten, Salilda was the foremost."

Lata & Hemant Kumar
3. O beqaraar dil  
Kohra(1964)
Music Director: Hemant Kumar
Lyrics: Kaifi Azmi
An exuberance of a different kind. The kind that comes from being so happy that one is now in love with tears – Ho chuka hain mujhko aansuon se pyaar – that one does not want any more happiness – Mujhe tu khushi na de, nai zindagi na de... Waheeda lip-syncs so beautifully to Lata’s voice that you really do not know who is acting and who is singing.

The Hindi version of Hemantda’s Bengali composition, O nodi re, he changed the orchestration, using violins, cellos and the bamboo flute to great effect. Kohra, inspired by Rebecca, had some wonderful songs; another favourite from the same film is the haunting Jhoom jhoom dhalti raat.
Lata Mangeshkar was a great fan of Hemant Kumar’s even before she had met him. The first song she recorded for him (as composer) was for Vande Mataram.

Lata & C Ramchandra
4. Ye zindagi usi ki hai 
Anarkali (1953)
Music: C Ramchandra
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishen
This has been a personal favourite even before I watched the film – the doomed love story of a prince and a courtesan had me shedding enough tears, and Lata’s voice held such pathos as Anarkali (a very beautiful Bina Rai on screen) bids farewell to her lover. What if they could not meet in this life? Another awaits –  Do dil yahaan na mil sake, Milenge us jahaan mein, Khilenge hasraton ke phool, Jaake aasmaan mein. 
I confess that when she gets to "Ae zindagi ki shaam aa, Tujhe gale lagaoon mein, Tujhii mein doob jaaon mein, Jahaan ko bhool jaaoon mein, Bas ik nazar mere sanam, Alvida alvida...", I am in tears. (I’m a romantic, what can I say?)

Even now, when I watch its picturisation, I mentally exhort Prince Salim to ride faster so he can get there before they bury her alive. (I also wonder why the heck he couldn’t just break the wall down when he reaches there, instead of just sitting and crying! But then, there wouldn’t be a story, would there?)

C Ramchandra was not the original composer of the film. In fact, composer Basant Prakash (composer Khemchand Prakash's younger brother) had composed and recorded one song with Geeta Dutt. His untimely death brought in C Ramchandra. He composed the entire score for the film, on condition that Lata sing all the songs. Filmistan, the producers, agreed, but the Geeta Dutt song Aa jaane wafa remained. 

What very few people know, is that part of Ye zindagi usi ki hai was composed by Roshan. C Ramchandra did not feel that he was getting the right tune for the verse 'Sunaayegi ye daastan shama mere mazaar ki, Khizaan mein bhi khili rahi ye kali anaar ki, Ise mazaar mat kaho yeh mahal hai pyaar ka,' and asked Roshan, who was there in Filmistan at the time, to give it a try. Roshan borrowed the harmonium and composed the tune for that verse on the spot.

Lata & Shankar-Jaikishen
Courtesy: sjmusic.org
5. Ajeeb dastaan hai ye  
Dil Apna aur Preet Parayi (1960)
Music: Shankar-Jaikishen
Lyrics: Shailendra
Another song that has been a favourite for as long as I have been listening to Hindi songs. Once again, the lyrics are full of pathos – she is in love with him, now he is married to another. Her love is not selfish; she can only hide her tears and wish him well. Congratulate him, even though, in becoming dear to someone, he has gone far away from her... Mubarake tumhi ke tum, kisi ke noor ho gaye, Kisi ke itne paas ho,ke sabse door ho gaye...
It is a strange story indeed, no one knows where it began, or where it will end (that is strangely prescient), but she will never be able to forget him – Kisi ke pyaar leke tum naya jahaan basaaoge Yeh shaam jab bhi aayegi tum humko yaad aaoge.

Lata’s voice is soft, full of the pain of heartbreak, of seeing one’s hopes and dreams dashed before they have time to bloom. Shankar-Jaikishen imbued the lyrics with just the right dash of music, its lilting melody complementing Lata’s voice in exquisite detail.

Shankar-Jaikishen
Courtesy: sjmusic.org
6. Ye shaam ki tanhaiyan 
Aah (1953)
Music: Shankar-Jaikishen
Lyrics: Shailendra
Another melodious SJ composition, this song is heart-rending in its yearning. Inexplicably jilted by her lover who has since vanished without a trace, she cries out her longing and her heartbreak, her loneliness intensified by the deepening night. When the wind rustles the leaves, it startles her.  The path on which he should have come is disappearing; he never came, but the seasons came and went a hundred times.  And now, as she weeps at night, holding his memories close to her, the moon and stars weep for her.  
Seene se laaga teri yaad ko, roti rahi main raat ko, Haalat pe meri chaand taare ro gaye shabnam... Lata’s voice quivers with pain and sorrow. 

Lata Mangeshkar shared a close and often fractious friendship with Jaikishen; she fought with him often and sometimes, fiercely, but they always made up. They met for the first time when Raj Kapoor sent Jaikishen over to Lata Mangeshkar’s house to ask her to record some songs for Barsaat. She had seen Prithviraj Kapoor in Kolhapur, and had met Raj Kapoor just a few days previously. When Jaikishen came, Lata told her sister Meena, “Raj Kapoor had sent someone over; perhaps it was his office boy. He was so handsome- maybe the people who work for the Kapoors are as good-looking as the Kapoors.” Imagine her embarrassment when she went to RK’s office and was introduced to the ‘office boy’!

Lata & Madan Mohan
Courtesy: rediff.com
7. Lag jaa gale 
Woh Kaun Thi (1964)
Music: Madan Mohan
Lyrics: Raja Mehdi Ali Khan
Naina barse is the more popular song from this film, but Lag jaa gale is achingly, hauntingly sweet, an effect heightened by the allure of Lata’s voice. It is ethereal, enticing, dare I say, seductive? There is also the sense of something ephemeral, here today – a wish to snatch some moments of happiness from the fates. What if tomorrow never comes?
Humko mili hai aaj yeh ghadiyaan naseeb se, Ji bhar ke dekh lijiye humko kareeb se, Phir aapke naseeb mein ye baat ho na ho, Phir is janam mein mulaqaat ho na ho... There is also an underlying sense of loss.

Lata first met Madan Mohan when he recorded a duet with her for the film Shaheed under Ghulam Haider’s baton. But the song was never used in the film and it was deleted from the disc as well. Madan Mohan was one of Lata’s favourite composers, and after an initial misunderstanding, he asked her to tie a rakhi on him. After that, he was always Madan-bhaiyya to her, while Madan Mohan called her beta.

Lata & Jaidev
Courtesy: rediff.com
8. Allah tero naam 
Hum Dono (1961)
Music: Jaidev
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
I don’t usually like bhajans, I don’t usually like Nanda, and the combination should have put me off completely. Yet this is a song that quietly crept into my favourites and stayed there. 

Wives praying for their husbands’ safety, and at the same time appealing for peace, it was shot beautifully by Vijay Anand. Composed by Jaidev (so under-rated a composer), Allah tero naam just flowed with the story. Lata rendered it so beautifully, I can understand how a bhajan can be a spiritual experience. And honest confession? Nanda’s reaction to the song, the sweetness of her expression, just added to its overall attraction. 
Jaidev assisted both Ali Akbar Khan (Aandhiyan, Hum Safar) and SD Burman. Hum Dono was his first break as composer, and he delivered a wonderful score. Lata was not on good terms with Jaidev at the time, and had refused to sign Hum Dono until coaxed by the Anand brothers.

Lata & Burmanda
9. Tum na jaane kis jahaan mein 
Sazaa (1951)
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
Aah. Now this is one song that I cannot bear to watch. Beautiful, beautiful melody, lovely lyrics but murdered onscreen by Nimmi making faces. (I truly wish she wouldn’t; she was quite pretty.) She had a total of 2½ expressions. Like Leela Chitnis being bedridden/dying in film after film, Nimmi seemed to be stuck with playing morosely martyred/ slightly mental characters. But I love the song so much, I will listen to it with my eyes closed. 
A few years later, Burmanda and Lata Mangeshkar had a disagreement that led to a five-year rift between the two. That rift was a boon to Asha Bhosle, who, along with Geeta Dutt sang most of SD's compositions during the period. The warring pair reunited for Bandini (1963).

Roshan Lal
10. Saari saari raat teri yaad sataye 
Aji Bas Shukriya (1958)
Music: Roshan
Lyrics: Farooque Qaiser
Recording a song brings back so many memories of happier times. What is one to do when on the one hand, the memories of a lost love burn inside, and on the other, the moon fans the flames? Ik to balam teri yaad jalaaye, Dooje chanda aag lagaaye, Aag lagaaye teri preet jagaaye re neend na aaye, Saari saari raat teri yaad sataye... 

Roshan preferred using Indian musical instruments and was proficient on the dilruba himself. The song, though composed by Roshan, was recorded by Naushad. Roshan was recording the song at Mehboob studios when Naushad arrived. Holding his colleague in high esteem, Roshan requested him to record the song for him; Naushad complied, instructing Lata and the musicians without changing a single note of Roshan’s composition.
(I don't know what this says about me, but more than half the songs on my list are the pathos-ridden songs that tell of love and longing and heartbreak.)

Ghulam Haider/Lata Mangeshkar
Courtesy: rediff.com

11. Dil mera toda
Majboor (1948)
Music: Ghulam Haider
Lyrics: Nazeem Panipati
Back when Lata first started her career, she was strongly influenced by reigning songstress Noor Jehan. Not only that, many music directors also wanted her to sing that way, considering her voice too thin (patli) for a heroine. In fact, Shashadhar Mukherjee even rejected her citing her voice as unfit for Kamini Kaushal, who was the heroine in Shaheed. Master Ghulam Haidersaab was irritated; taking the young girl with him, he stomped off, promising her that she would sing for Majboor, a film he was doing for Bombay Talkies. 

While they waited for the train, he tapped a tune on his cigarette case, and asked her to sing Dil mera toda mujhe kahin ka na chhoda after him; pleased with her rendition, they recorded the song after a two-day rehearsal. It turned out to be the first ‘hit’ song of Lata’s career. There is an edge of rawness to her craft still, but one could see the talent and the skill that was waiting to be honed. 

Lata considers Ghulam Haider saab her mentor. He is the person who taught her to pay attention to the lyrics, to enunciate them clearly, and to consider the actress who would be enacting the song on screen.

Lata & Khaiyyam
Courtesy: rediff.com
12. Baharon mera jeevan sanwaaro 
Aakhri Khat (1966)
Music: Khaiyyam
Lyrics: Kaifi Azmi
Lata’s voice in this song is deeper than usual, especially in the lower notes. A hill maiden, her emotions wakening with the advent of spring, awaits someone who will be hers, who will love her, marry her. The hope in the song tugs at your heartstrings, its sweetness intensified by the pure emotion in Lata’s voice. Who hasn’t longed for love? 
Na jaane kiska saaya dil se guzra, Zara awaaz dena raazdaaron, bahaaron... Spring holds her secrets dear. 

Lata sang very few songs for Khaiyyam, but the ones that she did were incomparable. Khaiyyam first met Lata when she was recording for Ghulam Haidersaab for Majboor. He was fascinated by the new singer. According to Khayyam, Lata’s greatest merit was in understanding the need of each individual music director, and moulding her voice according to the character on screen. (She learnt her lessons well.) 

Lata & Sajjad Hussein
Courtesy: rediff.com
13. Ae dilruba 
Rustom Sohrab (1963) 
Music: Sajjad Hussein
Lyrics: Jaan Nisaar Akhtar
Ah, sweetness. The song is mostly in the higher octaves, but yet there is a softness to the notes. A lilting tune with subtle middle eastern undertones.  Her control over the notes is astonishing. 

It was Lata Mangeshkar’s guru Amanat Ali Khan Devaswale who introduced her to Sajjad Hussein. Lata has said in interviews that she was always apprehensive when she sang for the notoriously hard-to-please music director. Sajad Hussein's compositions were complex, and he was very particular about the notes, and the instruments being tuned perfectly.
 
Her first song for the taskmaster was Aaj mere naseeb ne in Hulchul, but according to Sajjad, it was deleted from the film. (Lata chose this as her favourite from the songs she sang for Sajjad.) He composed three songs for the film, but didn’t complete Hulchul because the producers didn't pay him. (The score was completed by Mohammed Shafi.) Like Madhubala, Sajjad eventually had it written into his contract that he would only compose if Lata sang. 

Lata & Ravi Shankar
Courtesy: www.aacm.org
14. Haay re ye din kyun na aaye 
Anuradha (1960)
Music: Ravi Shankar
Lyrics: Shailendra
One sighs for the days that were, when music filled the air. Today, without music, the strings of her veena are silenced as well. The frustration of a neglected wife (the complete cluelessness of her hardworking husband having brought them to this pass), finally breaking out in song. Her dreams have withered; as she sings, the pathos in her voice breaks her husband’s heart. Is it too late for them?  Lata moves from the low notes to the high ones, staying there awhile before falling back with hardly a pause to caress the low notes once again. 

Pandit Ravi Shankar had already composed music for films like Dharti ke Lal, Neecha Nagar, and Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy. Before he came on board as music director, the film had been offered to Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. This was Ravi Shankar's first 'commercial' score.

Lata & Anil Biswas
15. Beimaan tore nainwa 
Tarana (1951)
Music: Anil Biswas
Lyrics: DN Madhok
Who would have thought that a hero twirling the heroine’s curls, or she running her hand through his hair as she sings him to sleep could be so sensuous? Fingers clasp and unclasp, trail over faces and wind themselves in tresses; smiles flash as he plays with her bangle... there is laughter, there is love, there is a mild flirtation. Above all, there is an innocent sensuality that is in keeping with the character of a village girl who finds herself swept off her feet by the sophisticated city doctor. 
This is a very sensuous romantic number, and the first time Madhubala and Dilip Kumar starred together. It is said they fell in love during the making of this film; whether that be true or not, they definitely set the screen on fire. Their chemistry was unbelievable, and lent a certain charm to a straightforward love song. Anil Biswas’ music played languorously in the background, complementing the softness of Lata’s voice.

He was one of the earliest composers that Lata worked with. He was a sociable soul and singers, including Lata, and musicians seem to have spent an inordinate amount of time in his house. Lata credits him with teaching her how to breathe while singing; how to inhale and exhale between words so that it wouldn't interrupt the song. He also taught her how to modulate her voice, and how to ensure clarity before the microphone.

Lata & Naushad Ali
16. Beqas pe karam kijiye  
Mughal-e-Azam
Music: Naushad
Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni

Lata soars effortlessly in this Na`at (poetry that specifically praises the Prophet), her voice rising fluidly as Anarkali, chained and thrown into the dungeon for her audacity in falling in love with the prince, appeals to a higher power. Naushad was all praise for Lata’s range as she effortlessly scaled an octave and a half.
The first song that Lata recorded for the maestro was a duet Haaye chore ki jaat badi bewafa with GM Durrani for a film called Chandni Raat. In his own way, Naushad was as hard a taskmaster as Sajjad. Lata confessed that when they finished recording, Naushad would say, “Excellent, Lata. Very good. Once more.”

These are not necessarily her ‘best’ songs, but they will definitely rank among some of the best songs from the period. It is only when I finished listing the songs that I realised that, with the exception of Shankar-Jaikishen who appear twice, every song is by a different music-director. Considering the wide difference in their styles – Sajjad Hussein and Shankar-Jaikishen being on the opposite sides of the spectrum, for instance – it speaks to Lata Mangeshkar’s capabilities that she could adapt so beautifully to each one. 

I have restricted myself to her solos here, leaving the duets for another post. For someone whose voice has given me years of pleasure, whose songs from her golden period still echo my feelings better than I can ever express them - Many happy returns of the day, Lataji.

*Acknowledgements:  
  • Lata Mangeshkar... In her own voice. Conversations with Nasreen Munni Kabir
  • www.salilda.com

40 comments:

  1. Anu, now I miss dad more than ever. He would have been poring over your post, and these songs would have played in a continuous loop as he waited for the duets...

    As always, great post. I have been reading regularly (well, as regularly as you have been posting); it's just that I haven't posted comments.

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  2. When I started reading the post, after every song I said "but this is better...", "why not this...?, "did she forget this..." and so on. Finally, I came to my senses and stopped trying to improve your list and just enjoyed your brilliant and detailed write up and the lovely songs. No matter which song we choose to list, its all perfect with Lata in her prime.

    And yes, finally two songs of Lata ji(first is the favourite of my grandmother and second of my father)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Caty2oXABGg (M.D is Sajjad Hussain)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhHW0cLnx08 (M.D. is Shalil Chowdhary).

    Happy Birthday LataJi.
     

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  3. Great post, but ... but ... why so many songs of heartbreak and separation and melancholy?  Here are some of my favorites, and they are brimming with life and joy:
    1. Kaanton se kheench ke yeh aanchal
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zgvw2GhRs8

    2. Dheere dheere machal 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIDnaZUyzv0&feature=related

    3. Kuchh dil ne suna
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69dnqIFfrnE&feature=related

    4. Tera mera pyar amar
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3c2pg7lyXSA&feature=related

    5. Aap ki nazaron ne samjha
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKCQZvfOxqA&feature=related (even though I don't care for the lyrics - she is thanking him for loving her - ugh!) - yes, I know this is not particularly happy, but it was my mother's favorite song!

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  4. Writing, or for that matter attempt to put any organised portrayal, about any one of the player of the Golden Era of Hindi Film Music must always be an exercise fraught with frustration - of feeling of failure to do justice to the subject or to one's own views or feelings - because every micro-aspect of their contribution has innumerable shades of monochrome.
    Therefore, to say that Anuji has been able to do a wonderful job –balanced, restrained, emotional but un-biased, interesting – still would not possibly what one may have to say, as much as she must be feeling after having posted this article!
    Even if we keep aside the conduct of her professional career aside – one will find a litany of tales of her very strong differences with one or other persona of the Film Industry of her times – her singing itself has merited an extreme range of views – from sheer devotion to outright cursory performances.
    But to carry on the torch for so long, under all kinds of circumstances, in itself is a no mean task. The kind of responsibility that puts, at every step, on the conduct of the person can be spine-breaking or morale – sapping. Lataji, when all is said and done, has been 1quite exemplary in this role – any occasional weak moment can be attributed to the natural human nature’s weakness. How so ever perfect one keeps on trying, there are bound to a few moments when the person does become what one’s natural self, particularly when the span of attention is wide and diverse.
    A few generations down the history, someone may wonder was such a voice really existed or it was creation by a herculean effort by machine!

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  5. Why am I not surprised any more that songs you feature in a post are more often than not the ones I'd have selected too? Ajeeb daastaan hai yeh, Lag jaa gale, Aayega aanewaala and Yeh shaam ki tanhaaiyaan were in my 'Lata in Ten Moods' post, two years ago. :-) You've included some more that I really love - especially O sajna barkha bahaar aayi and Haai re woh din kyon na aaye. Lovely post, Anu. Thank you for that. And a very special thank you for the anecdotes here and there - loved those!

    (Incidentally, there are some interesting overlaps between this post and one that I'm planning to publish in two weeks' time!)


     

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  6.  Hi Sridhar, welcome back. I thought of your father when I was writing this post. He would certainly have commented. Thanks for reading this and the other posts.

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  7.  Nra, *grin*. This was Lata at her peak, remember? I  bet everyone who reads this will disagree with my choices at least some of the time. Thank you for still liking my post despite your qualms about my choices. :)

    I listed the song from Hulchul under my choice for Sajjad Hussein. The second, the Bengali song is new to me - I wonder if it has an equivalent in any other language. Thank you for that.

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  8.  I don't know why myself. :) It's just that the songs I listed have always been my favourites. I didn't even realise it when I was listing them - it's when I began writing them up that I realised I was full of woe. I love, love, love the first three you listed, especially Dheer dheere machal.

    I hate (well, that is too strong a word, but still) the other two - Tera mera pyar amar because the tune just stretches each word like chewing gum; the last because of the sheer doormat-ishness of the lyrics. It ranks with Tuhi meri mandir from Khandaan for me - just begging the chap to come and wipe his feet on them! Ugh!

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  9.  Only four similarities? Are we losing our touch? :) No, you said your future post is going to overlap this one, so I guess we are keeping our tenuous link going. :))

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  10. Even 100 songs of Lata would be a fraction of her songs which have given us eternal pleasure over the years. Your list includes some of my great favorites.  Especially the stories behind some songs such as Naushad recording Sari sari raton teri yaad sataye or Roshan helping his mentor CR at a crucial point in Ye zindagi usi ki hai are very interesting.

    At a personal level, among her recognized great song, there is one which somehow does not appeal to me much - Allah hero naam.  

    Your write up is excellent as always.

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  11. He used this tune in a film called Jeevan Jyoti. I prefer the simpler guitar chord settings in the original Bengali. The Hindi version was sung by Asha
    http://www.sangeethouse.com/jukebox.php?songid=40101

    There is a rather decent song by Lata in the same film
    http://www.sangeethouse.com/jukebox.php?songid=40097

    It has a lovely prelude, the chord progression is nice.

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  12. On Sajjad , I like these two songs that aren't played that often. The first one from Khel is a typical Sajjad song, the rhythm is deceptively simple and linear, but the orchestration and the melody are superb.  There is a lovely orchestral accompaniment through the antara (you need headphones to make it  out). The end climbs away from the original melody in the mukhda
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkxarYFTjfo&feature=related

    The second ..
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJX9xTOJIjI&feature=related

    I have been trying to find a good recording of this song. I found the musical accompaniment lovely but all the recordings I have heard do not have a good technical quality, they are just too muddy. See how she takes the line "ab ro ro saawan jaaye" effortlessly just that little drop .. beautiful..

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  13. Not again! why do I always end up listing/recommending/mentioning the song you have already discussed in your post? Guess, great minds think alike :). I just LOVE(Raj Kapoor  kind in your case) the second song. As SSW mentioned(thanks to him), the same(almost) tune was used in Jeevan Jyoti. However, the guitar piece in the prelude of the original(Salil-Lata Pujo album) is just amazing. Unlike the hindi version, the original is a sad song but the rhythm and the chord progression makes it optimistic and hopeful instead of depressing and melancholic.

    Everyone in my family has a favorite Lata`s bangla song(usually from her durga pujo album with salilda). This is mine and the music director is Kishore Kumar.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChHhREC1Qhw

    ReplyDelete
  14. Writing, or for that matter attempt to put any organised portrayal, about any one of the player of the Golden Era of Hindi Film Music must always be an exercise fraught with frustration - of feeling of failure to do justice to the subject or to one's own views or feelings - because every micro-aspect of their contribution has innumerable shades of monochrome.
    Therefore, to say that Anuji has been able to do a wonderful job –balanced, restrained, emotional but un-biased, interesting – still would not possibly what one may have to say, as much as she must be feeling after having posted this article!
    Even if we keep aside the conduct of her professional career aside – one will find a litany of tales of her very strong differences with one or other persona of the Film Industry of her times – her singing itself has merited an extreme range of views – from sheer devotion to outright cursory performances.
    But to carry on the torch for so long, under all kinds of circumstances, in itself is a no mean task. The kind of responsibility that puts, at every step, on the conduct of the person can be spine-breaking or morale – sapping. Lataji, when all is said and done, has been 1quite exemplary in this role – any occasional weak moment can be attributed to the natural human nature’s weakness. How so ever perfect one keeps on trying, there are bound to a few moments when the person does become what one’s natural self, particularly when the span of attention is wide and diverse.
    A few generations down the history, someone may wonder was such a voice really existed or it was creation by a herculean effort by machine!
    P.S.- Some thing funny had happened to my first attempt for this comment. It appeared when I posted, and is lost thereafter. This has happened three times previously , too.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Writing, or for that matter attempt to put any organised portrayal,
    about any one of the player of the Golden Era of Hindi Film Music must
    always be an exercise fraught with frustration - of feeling of failure
    to do justice to the subject or to one's own views or feelings - because
    every micro-aspect of their contribution has innumerable shades of
    monochrome.


    Therefore, to say that Anuji has been able to do a wonderful job
    –balanced, restrained, emotional but un-biased, interesting – still
    would not possibly what one may have to say, as much as she must be
    feeling after having posted this article!


    Even if we keep aside the conduct of her professional career aside – one
    will find a litany of tales of her very strong differences with one or
    other persona of the Film Industry of her times – her singing itself has
    merited an extreme range of views – from sheer devotion to outright
    cursory performances.


    But to carry on the torch for so long, under all kinds of circumstances,
    in itself is a no mean task. The kind of responsibility that puts, at
    every step, on the conduct of the person can be spine-breaking or morale
    – sapping. Lataji, when all is said and done, has been quite exemplary
    in this role – any occasional weak moment can be attributed to the
    natural human nature’s weakness. How so ever perfect one keeps on
    trying, there are bound to a few moments when the person does become
    what one’s natural self, particularly when the span of attention is wide
    and diverse.


    A few generations down the history, someone may wonder was such a voice
    really existed or it was creation by a herculean effort by machine!"
     

    ReplyDelete
  16. Writing, or for that matter attempt to put any organised portrayal,
    about any one of the player of the Golden Era of Hindi Film Music must
    always be an exercise fraught with frustration - of feeling of failure
    to do justice to the subject or to one's own views or feelings - because
    every micro-aspect of their contribution has innumerable shades of
    monochrome.


    Therefore, to say that Anuji has been able to do a wonderful job
    –balanced, restrained, emotional but un-biased, interesting – still
    would not possibly what one may have to say, as much as she must be
    feeling after having posted this article!

    Even if we keep aside the conduct of her professional career aside – one
    will find a litany of tales of her very strong differences with one or
    other persona of the Film Industry of her times – her singing itself has
    merited an extreme range of views – from sheer devotion to outright
    cursory performances.


    But to carry on the torch for so long, under all kinds of circumstances,
    in itself is a no mean task. The kind of responsibility that puts, at
    every step, on the conduct of the person can be spine-breaking or morale
    – sapping. Lataji, when all is said and done, has been 1quite exemplary
    in this role – any occasional weak moment can be attributed to the
    natural human nature’s weakness. How so ever perfect one keeps on
    trying, there are bound to a few moments when the person does become
    what one’s natural self, particularly when the span of attention is wide
    and diverse.


    A few generations down the history, someone may wonder was such a voice
    really existed or it was creation by a herculean effort by machine!"

    ReplyDelete
  17. First, I am wondering how did I beat Harvey to comment earlier :)
    Next, this is an excellent post; and I like almost all songs presented by you & by others. I had not heard a couple, the one with Ghulam Haider for instance, although I had read about him introducing LM.
    If you ever want to organize a Lata song session, I will bring a few bottles of Sauternes; it pairs well her :)

    ReplyDelete
  18.  SoY, for some reason, your comment had disappeared into the blackhole of Disqus. I just found it today, when Ashokji mentioned that his comments were disappearing as soon as he could write them. Hopefully, it is now taken care of.

    Thank you for your comment, and for the compliment. I agree that 100 songs out of her brilliant career is not enough to list the superlative numbers with which she has treated us over the years.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Not again! why do I always end up listing/recommending/mentioning the song you have already discussed in your post?

    Because you don't read my posts! *grin*

    ReplyDelete
  20.  Ah, thanks for that link to the song from Jeevan Jyoti. I wondered whether there was an equivalent in another language.

    The Lata song from the same film was really sweet. I know I have heard it before, but it is not a song that has remained in my memory.

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  21.  They are indeed very nice songs. But as I said in the post, Sajjad (for me) takes some listening to. :)

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  22.  Thank you for your kind words, Ashokji. And I agree with you about Lataji's career, and her brilliance in her prime. As for the rest, yes, she is only human, and therefore allowed all its frailties.

    (I also solved the mystery of your disappearing comments. Even the cut-and-paste I did earlier disappeared. While Blogger lists your comment thrice, Disqus, for some reason known only to itself, decided they were spam. It is when I logged on to Disqus to find out what was happening that I discovered them. Approving them took just a minute, and so, finally, here it is. Now I have to see what to do about Samir's comment, which is not showing up on Disqus at all! It is languishing in Blogger's comments, and I have no way of publishing it.)

    ReplyDelete
  23. First,
    I am wondering how did I beat Harvey to comment earlier :)
    Next, this is an excellent post; and I like almost all songs presented
    by you & by others. I had not heard a couple, the one with Ghulam
    Haider for instance, although I had read about him introducing LM.
    If you ever want to organize a Lata song session, I will bring a few
    bottles of Sauternes; it pairs well her :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Harvey has been missing in action for some time - he did say something about being busy until November, so perhaps he will come out of hibernation then.

    Thank you for the compliment, and I will organise a Lata song session (No, I won't sing. Promise!) if you come to visit us in MA. :) Bottles of wine are always welcome.

    (Samir, for some reason your comment would not load. I had to cut and paste it here. )

    ReplyDelete
  25. "Kambakth kabhi besuri  nahin hoti"
    How true! And she still hasn't lost the sweetnes of her voice!

    Aayega aanewala is indeed a memorable song! But it just doesn't do much to me.

    For me o sajna barkha bahaar aayi  is the quintessential Lata song! So simple so beautiful!

    O beqaraar dil was one of my sis's fav song, to which she used to listen very often. This forced listening has let its stock fall down with me.

    The overexposure has done the same to yeh zindagi usi ki hai.

    But the over-exposure to ajeeb dastan hai yeh has just made me discover more and new aspects to it everytime. Lovely song! The way Lata measures every word make sthis a jewel.

    IMHO Lata is at her best in sad songs, better still in the masochistic songs of Madan Mohan. Thus yeh shamm ki tanhaiyan is very close to my heart!

    Lag ja gale is by MM and not masochistic but the mysterious halo pervading this song gives it a certain sex-appeal!

    Allah tero naam is also one of my fav bhajans! Loved your confession!

    Don't you think that tum na jaane kis jahan me kho gaye has a certain Geeta Dutt-like quality (like that of mera sundar sapna) to it? I would have loved to hear this song in Geeta's voice, though Lata is superb in it!

    Saari saari raat teri is great. But when I think of Roshan and Lata, the first song that comes to my mind is mujhe mil gaya bahana tere deed ka. I know that there are other better songs, but...

    dil mera toda is dil mera toda! :-)

    baharon mera jeewan bhi is like an Asha song for me sung by Lata. But that is true for nearly all Khaiyyam compositions!

    ae dilruba is so unlike Lata, isn't it? BTW I don't beliebe that rumour about madhubala's contract stipulating that only Lata sing for her. Asha sang for her till her last film.

    Nobody could express longing like Lata and she displays this in an amazing manner in haay re woh din kyun na aaye.

    beimaan tore nainwa is one of the few Anil Biswas compositions which I really like. In my opinion he gave the better sogns to his wife! ;-)

    mohe bhool gaye sanwariya is the Naushad-Lata song which comes first to my mind.
    I personally would have preferred a heavier voice for beqas pe karam ki jiye. Lata's voice sounds for me too pure, too clear for a torture victim.

    Great List, Anu! Made good reading, particularly the anecdotes!

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  26.  How nice of you to remember me!
    *sigh*

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  27.  I like that when you do show up, Harvey, I can be assured of a nice, detailed comment from you.

    I love the alaap of Aayega aanewala; sometimes I think I like Aaja re pardesi more, but often times, I'm just in sheer awe of the clarity of her voice.

    It is funny, no, that you should dislike Ye zindagi usi ki hai because it is overexposed, yet like Ajeeb dastan hai ye despite it? Just goes to show there is really no rhyme or reason why we like songs sometimes! I'm like that too. :)
    I can never get tired of Ye zindagi usi ki hai - especially the sad version.

    With Ae dilruba you are 'hearing' Sajjad, not Lata (that is true, I think of all his compositions; they are quite unique).

    As for Madhubala, she did stipulate that only Lata should sing for her; I think the films where Asha lent her her voice were the ones which OP Nayyar composed music for; or during the times when Lata was having one of her rifts with one or the other of the other composers.

    Laughing at Anil Biswas giving the better songs to his wife. :) At least, ghar ki murgi was not dal barabar, no?

    The Naushad-Lata combination had some absolutely wonderful songs; Mohe bhool gaye saanwariya, though I like it, would not come into my first ten from their collaboration.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Arre, we miss you much. Where have you been hiding yourself?

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hi, I am a regular visitor to your blog, but writing for the first time. All the songs you mentioned are great. 
    My favorite are all the songs of "Poonam". Heard them recently and they are awesome. 

    ReplyDelete
  30.  Hi Siddharth, welcome to my blog, and thank you for commenting. Please drop in again.

    ReplyDelete
  31.  "I think the films where Asha lent her her voice were the ones which OP
    Nayyar composed music for; or during the times when Lata was having one
    of her rifts with one or the other of the other composers."

    That didn't leave much choice then, did it? In those days or even later, composers went to Asha, if Lata didn't sing for them. So madhubala could have stipulated as much she wanted, at the end, the MD decided who sang. That was the case for any other heroine as well. MDs had their songs for the heroines mostly sung by Lata, if not, then by Asha.
    In fact I remember Asha saying in an interview that after she had left her husbands's house, Madhubala helped her a lot and also asked for her voice for her songs.

    ReplyDelete
  32.  Harvey, that is very true. But that the stipulation was there is also true so far as I know. It has been mentioned in a couple of music directors' interviews, and even by Lata herself in her book.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Oh wow, Anu!  I don't envy you having to distill a phenomen like Lata down to 16 melodies!  Or maybe I do...I can imagine the immense joy of listening to her songs while coming up with the list. 

    As for the songs listed, I confess there are a few that I personally dislike (beqas pe karam, lag ja gale, allah tero naam, saari saari raat, aayega aanewala) but appreciate the variety and range they represent.  Some of my own favorites from MDs you haven't already mentioned include:

    Haye re meri zulfen (Burma Road, Chitragupta)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCmXLO_Bn0o

    Jal ke dil khak hua (Parichay, Shailesh)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TFKnHwtPlQ

    Ja ja re chanda ja re (Private Secretary, Dilip Dholakia)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MA0fDFfnv8Y
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCmXLO_Bn0o

    ReplyDelete
  34. I think you and Harvey are both right. :-)  I believe after Mahal, Madhubala did specify Lata in her contracts but dropped it post Howrah Bridge.  Madhubala's 1955 home production "Naata" is almost an all-Lata show, but her 1960 production "Mehlon Ke Khwab" is an all-Asha affair.  Actors are a supersitious lot, I think, and inclined to stick with/repeat what has worked for them previously.:-)

    ReplyDelete
  35. I forgot to say, much as I love him, I don't for a minute believe Roshan had any hand in composing "yeh zindagi usiki hai."  AFAIK, the only ones to make that claim are Lata and Hridaynath.  And as musically talented as they are, the Mangeshkars are also opportunistic liars!

    ReplyDelete
  36.  Shalini, I agree with both the points you made - it was very, very hard to whittle Lata's body of work to 16 songs; *and* it was an enjoyable, albeit impossible, task. :)

    Any particular reason for disliking the songs you listed, or is it a case of having heard them too often? Or no particular rhyme or reason (the same case for my liking certain songs) other than they don't appeal to you? (Just curious. :))

    All the three songs you listed as your favourites are new to me: Of them, I particularly loved Ja ja re chanda ja re and Haye re meri zulfein. Thanks for the links. I love being introduced to 'new' old songs. I also realise (woefully) how many songs I still haven't even heard from that period!

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  37.  Harsh words, but I haven't heard it said anywhere else, except in Lata's Conversations..., and there is no other concrete proof anyway. Let's leave it as a 'You may or may not want to believe...' :) Either could be right.

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  38.  Thanks for weighing in, Shalini. I think, at least for Howrah Bridge, even Madhubala would not have prevailed. That was an OP Nayyar show all the way, and he was adamant about not using Lata.

    I totally agree about actors being a superstitious lot and sticking with the 'winning' formula.

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  39. Anu, you are brave indeed to embark upon such a difficult task. I was thinking of mentioning here in my comments some beautiful songs that have always enthralled me but I did not dare to attempt even that. One would be nagged by the feeling of leaving out many gems from the list. I would just commend your attempt. You have covered some immortal songs in your post.

    ReplyDelete
  40.  Brave or foolhardy? :) I don't know. I have so many songs that I like, that unless I list her entire body of work (pre-90s) I'm going to always leave out some song I like.

    I'm glad you like the list, limited though it is in scope.

    ReplyDelete

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