Lata Mangeshkar – Part 4
As Lataji’s voice has matured and mellowed, her style has remained distinct. Lata clones proliferate but when the original grows richer and sweeter with age who wants imitations?. For somebody who started by imitating Noor Jehan’s style, Lataji has brought film playback a long way and played a definitive role in delineating the epitome of feminine expression.
Her silvery, sweet dulcet tones represent the magic, mystique and feminine aura of our screen goddesses. From Nargis to Kajol. Tastes have changed, stereotypes have changed, feminine role models have changed. But the charm of Lataji’s voice has remained so enigmatically constant it is little short of a miracle. Lataji’s own spontaneity perhaps plays a role in her constant improvisation. Lataji’s easy sense of humor among close friends is a little known secret. As is her famed banter and jokes in the recording room. Perhaps Lataji retains the child in her. Hidden behind her glasses, her austere white sarees, her long disciplined tresses, is a giggly girl who revels in warm family moments, games and playful interludes with young nephews and nieces.
True creativity can never be contained. It often spills over into another art. Lataji is a much respected non-film performer. By her own admission, she finds her non-film compositions more challenging that her film songs. No Lata devotee can forget, that mesmeric album of Meera Bhajans, composed by her talented brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar. Then, there was her successful pairing with Jagjit Singh, the honey voiced pioneer of the modern ghazal in Ghazaldom’s best selling album ‘Sajda’.
Who can forget ‘Ae mere wattan ke logo’, that haunting tribute to jawans who died for their motherland. Composed by C. Ramchandra, it brought tears to the eyes of Panditji. Compelling, moving, in this the 50th year of our Independence it serves to reminds us of those sacrifices that wrought us freedom. Lataji declared that her patriotic songs are so deeply moving, because she truly loves her country and through her music is willing to do anything for her Motherland.
True talent never goes unrecognized and that has been true of Lataji. Recipient of four filmfare awards, the Padma Bhushan in 1989, a mention in the Guiness Book of World Records, and the only Asian to have received the Platinum Disc of EMI London, Lataji personifies the complete artiste.
Relentless in her quest for perfection, effacingly humble, publicity shy and simple, and doggedly diligent. At a public function she said ‘I believe in past deeds and reincarnation. The fact that all of you have come here and showered me with your best wishes and given me the feeling of fulfillment, what else can it be but the fruits of my past birth? Disregarding differences of caste, region, religion, people have always welcomed me with great love. They’ve showered boundless affection on me for the past so many years. Can I ever forget this?
And so I salute the real ‘Legend’ The inspiration for film music. A beacon of hope, courage and endurance. A shining light of perseverance. After listening to Lata we know what Yash Chopra means when he says ‘Usually it is an artiste who follows art. But in Lata’s case, it’s the art that has followed her’ – Subhash K . Jha (Legends – Lata Mangeshkar – The Nightingale)