Lata Mangeshkar — the living legend — Part I

Whatever is written about Lata Mangeshkar by various musicologists, it is a fact that I was a child when I first listened to her song “Aaye Ga, aaye ga, aaye ga, aaye ga aane waala, aaye ga” from the film ‘Mahal’. This film was released in 1949 with the then petite Madhubala in the lead and young Ashok Kumar getting haunted by this song searching for the identity of who was singing it, and was a Kamal Amrohvi directional spree. This song is even heard after more than 60 years, henceforth seems as lilting as ever. Its music composer was Khem Chand Parkash. Famous director Bimal Roy was the editor of this movie. This combination of excellent team work in the black and white days made this movie a memorable one with successful use of light and shadow technique. Alas! Khemchand did not live to see the glory of success of his hit movie ‘Mahal’ as he died 10 days before its release on August 10, 1950. Then I remained mesmerised with Lata’s song “Jhan jhan jhan payal bajje” especially when my aunt the painter Professor Zakia Maalik used to sing it at family dinners. This song was SD Burman’s semi-classical creativity for the 1951 Shahid Lateef’s directional venture ‘Buzdil’ pictured on Nimmi with Cuckoo dancing on classical steps. Kishore Sahu and Prem Naath were part of this movie also. 
Lata and Anil Da: Then Anis Biswas composed four lovely songs for Lata in Shahid Lateef’s 1950 movie ‘Aarzoo’. One of such songs was “Kahan tak hum uthaein gham jiyein ab yaa kei mar jaein”. It was a melodious number. The movie clicked with cast Dilip Kumar, Kamini Kaushal and Gope. Another of Lata’s song “Unhain hum jo dil sei bhulane lage” was lilting. I cannot forget the songs “Mera naram karejwa dol gaya” and “Jana na dil sei door aankhon sei door jaa ke”. Incidentally Anil Biswas was a very successful Bollywood music director of 1940’s and ‘50s. He is sometimes credited with the introduction of the full orchestra into film music though I have seen him using successfully little orchestra also in some of his songs and they sounded so very well. The movie’s music still bewitches many belonging to that generation; the earnest music lovers. The dohra of the song “Kaya khabar thi keh muhabbat mein yeh din atey hain” followed by the asthai “Woh din kahan gayey bata” by Mangeshkar still haunts me because of simplicity of expression and melody and the innocence with, which Madhubala pictured it in the movie ‘Tarana’. The depth of feelings emerged continues to haunt ardent music lovers, as and when this melody is played. Having said that, my all time favourite duet by Mangeshkar with Talat Mahmud is “Seene main sulagte hain armaan” is an unforgettable melody. Anil Biswas was also mentor of a number of Bombay’s great singers, such as Mahmud, Mukesh and Mangeshkar. Above all, Biswas is also said to have influenced the singing mode of Mangeshkar and helped her come out of groove of Noor Jehan style of singing. Biswas was always very particular about when a singer should or should not break a phrase for a breath. It is also said that it was Biswas who coached Mangeshkar to improve her breath control.
I have mentioned in my book Melody Makers that Biswas, in one of his interviews had said that if Rai Chand Boral was the baap (father) of Hindi cinema music, then he (Biswas) was the chacha (uncle) of Bollywood. It is only when we go through his contributions in music compositions and the way he made use of vocals of Mageshkar; we realise that his egocentric statement was true to its hilt. I did not dislike this statement after listening to “Ritu aye ritu jaye” followed by “Pee bin sunaa jee” sung by Mangeshkar and Manna Dey respectively for the movie ‘Humdard’. Imagine the command of Biswas that he had used for raags in the latter composition: Raags Gaud Sarang, Gaud Malhaar, Jog and Bahaar. Apart from the songs from the movie ‘Tarana’ mentioned above, the other songs that have remained imprinted in my psyche from my childhood are “Mosey rooth gayo mora sanwaria”, “Yun chhup chhup kai tera aana”, “Beimann torey nainwa nindiya na aye”, “Wapas lele ye jawani” all sung by Mangeshkar. Another duet by Mangeshkar and Mahmud is “Nain miley nain huey banwerey”. Finally the songs from films ‘Araam’ (1951), ‘Doraha’ (1952), ‘Aakash’ (1953) and ‘Fareb’ (1953), though were not box-office success, were rare gems like “Balmwa nadan” and “Man mein kisi ki preet basa le” (‘Doraha’); “Saraa chaman tha apna” and “So gayee chandni” also by Mangeshkar (‘Aakash’).
Mangeshkar’s background: We shall proceed ahead by mentioning my favourite songs of Mangeshkar composed by other music composers but prior to that let me give you a brief history of her background. 


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