Going strong at 75
She has serenaded at least three generations of fans. But Lata Mangeshkar, who turned 75 last week, says she would like to be remembered for her public service too
Q: What do you feel as you turn 75?
A: I do not feel that I am now 75 years old. In my opinion what matters is not the years but how you feel at heart. I still feel the same way as I was in my 50s and 60s.
Q: You have achieved a very special position in film music, whom do you give credit for this?
A: The Almighty, my gurus and of course all 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 it. Yes, I was a great admirer of Saigal saheb since my childhood. 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 growing youngsters will ask `Lata who?'
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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 mistakes. During singing each of us were aware of 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 not there.
Q: How do you recall your music directors and lyricists?
A: Almost all music directors have their own styles. Anil Da, Naushadji were great, but as a team I had given 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. I have rendered most of my Bengali songs to his music. Besides, composer Salil Da 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 film on Madan Mohan's tunes in the film "Veer Zaara". How was that experience?
A: Oh! It was really a lovely moment for me. Although almost 30 years back Madanji had played those tunes to me. He and R.D. Burman had the habit of getting all their tunes recorded. In film Mausam, Madanji made 16 tunes for the song Dil Dhoondta Hai, out of which two were retained in the film. This time Yashji, Madanji's son and I worked on 300 tunes of Madan Mohan. Thirty were selected and then finally 11 tunes were recorded for the film. 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 work for society. In Pune a very big hospital has been built in my father's name, which is serving people. In future I would also like to do such work, which may benefit society.
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