From Assam to Gujarat, West Bengal to Kerala, Lata Mangeshkar “named the unnameable and communicated the unknowable” through her songs that crossed language barriers
Mendichya Panavar (Marathi)
A song whose allusions to henna, jasmine and tulsi gently take the listeners on an emotional journey of the past, Mendichya panavar was written by Suresh Bhat and composed by Hridaynath Mangeshkar. It arrived in 1956 and remains an iconic song in the Marathi oeuvre.
Bhay Ithale Sampat Nahi (Marathi)
On May 10, 2019, on the birth anniversary of legendary Marathi poet Manik Godghate, better known as Grace, Mangeshkar had tweeted a link to her song Bhay ithale sampat nahi. In this, she had delivered the deep and layered poetry of Grace to the music composed by Hridaynath Mangeshkar.
Mee Raat Takli (Marathi)
An evocative song about the bygone night, Mee raat takli was a part of the award-winning film from 1977, Jait Re Jait, which was produced by the Mangeshkar family and is counted among the great works of Marathi cinema. Mangeshkar performed this with Ravindra Sathe, Chandrakant Kale and a chorus, which touched heartstrings for years to come.
Jonakore raati (Assamese)
This is Mangeshkar’s first Assamese song, sung with Bhupen Hazarika for the film Era Bator Xur in 1956. A melodious and soothing number, it depicts the natural beauty of Assam on a moonlit night. It remains to be Mangeshkar’s most famous Assamese song till date.
Rod Puwabor Karone (Assamese)
This was composed by Bhupen Hazarika for the 1951 conference of the Assam Pradeshik Mahila Samity. Mangeshkar, along with Talat Mahmood, Hemanta Kumar (Mukhopadhyay) and Hazarika, sang the chorus of Rod puwabor karone, which was about peace and unity among different communities in Assam, post-independence. It was later used in the 1956 film Era Bator Xur.
Akash Pradip Jole (Bengali)
By most accounts, 1956 was the year she entered the Bengali soundscape with this song. The dulcet piece set to tune by Satinath Mukherjee, was apparently recorded later, and became a super-hit on radios for generations.
Na Jeyo Naa (Bengali)
In this 1959 song, Salil Chowdhury exploited the romantic nature of raga Khamaj in both the original Bengali and its Hindi rendition O Sajna barkha bahar aayi (from Bimal Roy’s Parakh, 1960). The combination of Chowdhury and Mangeshkar was a gamechanger for the modern Bengali song, both film and non-film music.
Kadhali Chenkadali (Malayalam)
This single-track Mangeshkar number continues to be the most-cherished song from Nellu, a 1974 Ramu Kariat-directed film. It brought to light the life of the Adiyar adivasi tribe of Wayanad. Penned by none other than the veteran Malayalam lyricist Vayalar Ramavarma, the song Kadhali chenkadali, was composed by Salil Chowdhury.
Mangeskar sang Valaiyosai for the film Sathya (1988) to Ilayaraja’s composition. A song about love letters and gardens, star-crossed lovers and gentle breeze, it was directed by Suresh Krishna and produced by Kamal Haasan, who also starred in it, with Amala. Another song, Ingeyum, sung by Mangeshkar wasn’t included in the film.
Aararo aararo (Tamil)
Aararo aararo for Anand (1987), a film directed by CV Rajendran, had actors Prabhu, Radha, Chinni Jayanth in lead roles. This love song was composed by Ilayaraja to the lyrics of Gangai Amaran, his younger brother, and become one of the hit Tamil songs by Mangeshkar.