Taj Mahal is not the only wonder we are blessed with. There is one living legend who not just makes India proud but continues to inspire generations. Call her Lata Mangeshkar, Lata didi or the woman with a nightingale’s voice, just the sheer mention of her name leaves melodies like ‘O Sajana’ or ‘Didi Tera Devar Deewana’ echoing in our ears. No wonder when she sang ‘Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon’, even the then Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru couldn’t hold back his tears. Her voice can make myths come true: it can bring rains, make peacocks dance and move stones. And as she turns 87 today, we remember not just some of her marvellous melodies, but also interesting stories attached to many of them. Check them out.
1. Bollywood’s eternal beauty Madhubala felt that the voice of Lata Mangeshkar suited her the best. Hence, she had a clause that whenever she would sign a film it would be her singing for Madhubala. On the contrary, Lata Mangeshkar feels it was actress Saira Banu who carried her voice with utmost perfection.
2. Lata Mangeshkar’s two songs – ‘Tere Sang Pyar Main’ (Nagin) and ‘Wada Na Tod’ (Dil Tujhko Diya) appear in the Hollywood film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet.
3. As much as their duets ruled the charts, Lata and Mohammad Rafi did not share a very cordial relationship in real life. Apparently, the two legends fell out on issues of royalty payment on their duets. So much so, that the two did not sing together for nearly three years.
4. Lata Mangeshkar was supposed to sing the iconic song ‘Aake Seedhi Lagi’ from Half Ticket with Kishore Kumar. But somehow, she coudn’t be available for its recording. To save the song day, Kishore Kumar convinced the music director, Salil Chowdhury and sang both the parts on his own! Also if you remember the beginning part of the song ‘Nahi Nahi’ where both Lata and Kishore are playfully talking — “Ay aao na, dila hai bekarar! Na na, na naaaa!”. This part was inserted on Kishore Kumar’s request to RD Burman.
5. Lata and filmmaker Yash Chopra shared a beautiful relationship. No YRF film was made without Lata’s voice in it. Such was Yash Chopra’s fixation for her voice, that it was only him who convinced Lata to sing for his films, despite her officially giving up on playback singing. Though she keeps crooning single tracks here and there, her last full-fledged album was YRF’s Veer-Zaara.
6. Lata has always been outspoken about her dislike for remixing and re-recording old classics. She had said it spoils the magic of original, one of the main reasons she stopped singing in films lately.
7. Regarding her story behind the song ‘Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon’, which she sang during the Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi in 1963, she said, “I declined because there was no time to rehearse and prepare to sing it in front of so many distinguished people. You see, at that time I was working round-the-clock. To give special attention to one song seemed impossible. We had very little time to get it ready.” She, however, sang it, and rest as they say is history!
8. Lata and her younger sister and another legend Asha Bhosle’s rivalry isn’t unknown. They grew apart due to personal family issues. But their conflictturned so apparent on work front too, that it became a constant trouble for musicians back then. They could not have both of them together on the same project and were forced to choose sides. However, with time, the two sisters bounced back and reunited. The two have sung duets like ‘Main Chali Main Chali’, ‘Mann Kyun Beheka Re Beheka’ and ‘Sakhi Ri Sun Bole Papiha’.
9. One of Lata Mangeshkar’s longest interviews was done by singer Sonu Nigam on a radio show which Sonu hosted. Actually, it was Lata’s gift for Sonu to appear on his show, for his birthday. She also revealed a whole lot of unknown stories about herself.
10. Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar can open a mutual admiration club. Both of them are self-acclaimed fans of each other. Lata sang his favourite song ‘Mera Saya Sath Hoga’ as a special dedication for Sachin during his felicitation after his retirement from cricket. It is said that Sachin always carried a playlist of Lata in whichever part of the world he travelled to play.
While there are numerous stories around the life and career of Lata Mangeshkar, we leave many more for her next birthdays. We wish she has many more years of good health and melodies!
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