Sunday, September 28, 2014

Lata Mangeshkar: The Living Legend, Nightingale

A very Happy Birthday to Lataji and her crores of fans across borders...

The testimony of Lata Mngeshkar's genius lies in the fact that she has sung duets starting from the likes of Talat Mahmood and Hemant Kumar to a post-Kishore Kumar generation like Kumar Sanu and Udit Narayan. Her hit songs range from ‘Ayega Ayega Anewala (Mahal), to ‘Jo Wada Kiya Tha (Taj Mahal with Mohammd Rafi) and ‘Dil Tadap Tadap ke (Madhumati with Mukesh). On the other hand, decades later she continued to be natural choice for the music directors to sing for heroine less than half her age. The new generation would know her for Madhuri Dixit starrers and films like  Shahrukh Khan-acted ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaeyenge’, Mohabbaten and Dil Toh Pagal Hae. In Amitabh Bachchan starrer 'Silsila' : yeh kahan aa gaye hum....portrayed on actress Rekha is another sensational. 

Born September 28, 1929, Lata, Lataji or Latadi as she is known today
first bagged national laurels decades back when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was moved to tears at a public function where she sang her famous patriotic number, “Aye mere watan ke logo …”. It was, her admirers say, only in fitness of things that on the eve of Golden Jubilee Celebration of Independence Day in 1997, Lata was grand attraction for the special function in the capital.
A number of hit movies and reigning queens owe their success to Lata’s meldious voice and no wonder she was longback aptly titled ‘Nightingle of India’.
When seven year old Lata played Narad in a play to her father's Arjun. She showed sings of maturity and sobriety that would remain her trademark characteristic later. 
Another facet of her virtues is hardly known. Despite detesting acting, Lata played several cameo parts in Hindi and Marathi films including Pahili Mangalagaur (1942), Maze Baal (1943) , Badi Maa (1945 ), Subhadra (1946 ) Chimukla Sansar (1943) , Gajabhau (1944 ) ,Jeevan Yatra (1946 ), Mand (1948 ), Chhatrapati Shivaji (1952 ). Actually, domestic responsibilities after the untimely death of her father Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar, classical singer and theater actor, compelled Lata to act.

In her first film ‘Pahili Mangalagaur’, she played actress Sneprabha Pradhan's sister. In ‘Badi Maa’, starring Noor Jehan, Lata acted, sang for herself and for younger sister Asha. 

Waheeda Rehman, a star in her own right and to whose performance Lata rendered her voice many a times, rightly says, 'Lataji never thinks of her self as THE Lata Mangeshkar. She has always done her job to the best of her abilities and then never looked back'.

In 1999, during the erstwhile Vajpayee government she was nominated as a member of Rajya Sabha. In 2001, Lata Mangeshkar was awarded Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honor. In the same year, she established the Master Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital in Pune, managed by the Lata Mangeshkar Medical Foundation (founded by the Mangeshkar family in October 1989).
The genius of Lata can be understood from the fact  if decades back, Lata lent her voice for Dimple’s debut film 'Bobby', years later it was the irreplaceable Lata, albeit with glasses on, singing for an older Dimple in Bhupen Hazarika composed famous number ‘Dil Hoon Hoon Kare’ in Gulzar’s Rudali.

With legendary Hemanta Mukherjee
The ruthless competitive world of Bollywood even had occasions when attempts were made to replace her with other casts like Suman Kalyanpur and Hemlata, but Lata weathered all such challenges with disdain to live like a true living legend.
In 1973, she won the National Film Award for Best Female Playback singer for the song Beeti Na Bitai from the film Parichay, composed by R. D. Burman, and written by Gulzar. In 1975, she again won the same award, this time for the song Roothe Roothe Piya from the film Kora Kagaj, composed by Kalyanji-Anandji.

From 1970s onwards, Lata Mangeshkar has also staged many concerts in India and abroad, including several charity concerts. Her first concert overseas was at the Royal Alebrt Hall in London in 1974.

From 1980s onwards, Lata Mangeshkar got selective and cut down on her film singing. She recorded mainly for films by well-known banners, such as
Yash Raj Films and Rajshri Productsions even as she worked with new music directors often in new genre of songs like with A R Rahman and Shiv Hari. She also recorded some non-film songs, including ghazals with Jagjit Singh.
Lekin was another milestone move in early 1990s for her wherein she won her third National Film Award for the  song Yaara Sili Sili from the film.
Rahman recorded a few songs with Mangeshkar during this period, the most popular sogs include "Jiya Jale" from Dil Se and "O Paalanhaare" for criticaly aclaimed Lagaan.

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