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Sweet at 75

Lata Mangeshkar talks about her music directors, lyricists and co-singers


SHE HAS been winning hearts with her golden voice for decades.

But melody queen Lata Mangeshkar, who turned 75 on September 28 this year, would like to be remembered for her public service too. Excerpts from an interview:

Q: What do you feel on completion of 75 years of life?

A: I do not feel that I am 75 years old. What matters is not the years but how you feel at heart. I still feel the same way as I did when I was in my 50s and 60s.

Q: You have achieved a very special position in film music. To whom do you give credit for this?

A: The Almighty, my gurus and, of course, my listeners.

Q: K. L. Saigal was your ideal and his singing inspired you the most. Today, you are the ideal for newcomers. Don't you think history is being repeated?

A: I will not claim that history is repeating itself here. You are the people to decide this.

Yes, I was a great admirer of Saigal saab since my childhood days. He was the ideal for all singers in my time.

But today, I feel very sorry when the new generation does not recognise him. Maybe tomorrow youngsters will ask `Lata who?'

Q: Having sung with so many singers, whom did you feel most comfortable with?

A: I was never uncomfortable with any of my co-singers. I had great experience with Mukesh bhaiyya. Rafi saab was equally good and Kishoreda was superb. Those days we all worked as a team, which cannot be compared with today's way of working.

Q: If you were asked to compare the music scenario of yesterday with today's in one sentence...

A: Body is there without breath.

Q: Where are we lacking?

A: See, in those days everything was recorded live. Musicians, singers, co-singers and chorus, all had one recording slot. If anyone made a mistake, the whole song was recorded again from the beginning. We were so sincere and dedicated that after so many rehearsals we hardly made any mistake. When we sang each of us was aware of the action-reaction of the co-singers and accordingly expressed ourselves. Today, music is recorded separately; singers and co-singers do not record together. Everything is being framed in a mechanical way. That's why the natural touch is absent.

Q: About your music directors and lyricists?

A: Almost all music directors have their own styles. Anilda, Naushadji were great, but as a team I had maximum sittings with Shankar Jaikishan. At that time I was new. Jaikishan and I were of the same age group. We worked jointly on so many melodies. Salil Choudhary was a genius. Most of the Bengali songs I have rendered were set to his music. Besides, composer Salilda was a very good poet. Among writers Sahir Ludhianvi, Shakeel Badayuni and Hasrat Jaipuri were very good but Shailendra and Kavi Pradeep had no match. Today, I miss these great personalities and their poetry.

Q: Recently you have sung for Yash Chopra's "Veer Zaara" for which tunes composed by the late Madan Mohan have been used. What was the experience like?

A: Oh! It was really a lovely moment for me. Almost 30 years ago, Madanji had played those tunes to me. He and R.D. Burman had the habit of getting all their tunes recorded. In the film Mausam, Madanji made 16 tunes for the song Dil Dhoondta Hai, out of which two were retained.

This time Yashji, Madanji's son, and I worked on 300 tunes of Madan Mohan. Thirty were selected and then finally 11 were recorded for "Veer Zaara." Javed Akhtar has penned the lyrics. I enjoyed singing them.

Q: In what way would you like to be remembered?

A: I know I will be remembered as a singer but I would also like to be remembered for my commitment to social causes.

RAJEEV SHRIVASTAV

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