Swar Kokila Lata Didi is no more… The body of the Nightingale of India was laid to rest on Sunday evening 06 February 2022 at the age of 92. The soul is at peace resting in music and soothing the ears of gods and her creator Maa Saraswati.
It took me time to write a tribute/remembrance on Lata Mangeshkar, fondly called Lata Didi by all. The body is laid to rest, the soul is in melody in the heaven, toh hamare pass kya hai Lata Didi ka, Lata Mangeshkar the epitome of right pure note, the devi, the Maa Saraswati of Indian/Hindi playback singing.
Maa nahi rahi par unki awaaj hai or sada rahegi, this all may sound filmi but sometimes the encounters between fact and fiction is so fascinatingly intimate that it becomes part of our life’s.
Today Indian Hindi music has everything money can buy all the saaz etc but no money could buy that divine awaaj that right note which Lata Didi had.
Some may get a flash back of Deewar’s iconic Amitabh Bachchan Shashi Kapoor’s Mere Pass Maa Hai wala scene. But why Deewar over here?
Such is the impact of Lata Mageshkar’s songs in her highly illustrated around 80 years of singing journey that you can begin from anywhere, here last song Saugandh mujhe is mitti ki, as a tribute to the Indian Army, in March 2019 at the age of 90, or her her first song, Natalee chaitraachi navalayee at the age of 13, to Dil Deewana filmed on Bhagyashree when Lata Didi was around 60, to Yeh Sama, Sama Hai Yeh Yeh Pyaar Ka on Nanda in Jab Jab Phool Khile to Dil Mein Tujhe Bitha Kar in Fakira filmed on Shabana Azmi and Shashi Kapoor, the bhaav the voice, the note never went wrong experts say.
Talking about the bhaav, request you to listen to the song Yeh Kaha Aa Gaye Hum from Silsila sung by Lata Didi (again after reading this) with prose by Amitabh Bachchan in this soothingly beautiful composition by Shiv-Hari and written by Javed Akhtar.
This particular portion from the song meri saans saans mehake mehake, koyi bheena bheena chandan, tera pyar chandni hai, mera dil hai jaise aangan, huyi aur bhi mulayam, meri shaam dhalte dhalte. The way Lata Didi has emoted on the word ‘mulayam’ is nothing less then a cuddle a caress.
The world talks about the great Rafi Sahab’s emotions in his romantic numbers which are like cuddling, caressing your lover for example – yeh dekh ke dil jhuma, aap ke haseen rukh, pass baitho tabiyat bahal jayegi, iss rang badalti duniya mein, kaun hai jo sapno mein aaya.. the list is endless.
The emotions Lata Didi had in her songs are incomparable, amazingly, it was a routine for Lata Magehkar our dear Lata Didi to get it right.
Be it Jaya Bhaduri teasing Sanjeev Kumar wearing his kurta in ‘Baahon mein chale aao’ from Anamika, or Lag ja gale from Woh Kaun Thi on Sadhna and Manoj Kumar, or Baiyan na dharo o balma from Dastak filmed on Sanjeev Kumar and Rehana Sultana.
That drunk song, ‘Kaise rahoon chup ke maine pi hi kya hai!’ from Intaqam, the cabaret number 'Aa jaane jaan' from the movie Intaqam filmed on the legendary Helen.
Name any genre, you will have a song sung by Lata Mageshkar locked in your memory, her bhavgeets, bhajans and verses of Bhagwad Gita are pure divine.
For me Lata Didi’s voice had that quality to melt into your ears, Listen to Rangeeela re, from Guide if you still don’t agree.
Aaj phir jeene ki tamana hai from the same Guide filmed on the same Waheeda Rehman and Luka Chuppi from Rang De Basanti picturised on the same Waheeda Rehman.
From Rangeela Re to Rang De Basanti, to the Gayatri mantra recorded for specially for the wedding of Isha Ambani and Anand Piramal, so many things have changed but Lata Didi’s magic remained the same.
From her first shot of fame with Aaayega Aanewala from Mahal (1949) where she was made to walk from a certain distance towards the mic and get that last Aayega right while reaching near the mic after multiple takes more than a dozen to be called the reincarnation of Maa Saraswati – The Hindu Goddess of learning, arts and wisdom later by generations after generations.
The eldest of her siblings Hema Mangeshkar aka Lata Mangeshkar aka Lata Didi urf Queen of Melody, The Nightingale of India, hailed as Voice of the Millennium was initially naive about Production Houses/Studios having canteen where refreshments can be brought.
The young Lata would stay in the studios while others enjoyed their refreshments, she couldn’t afford that luxury as she used to travel via local train to Bombay Talkies in Malad, avoid taking Tonga, from that one/two rupees Lata Didi travelled and after recording picked vegetables, stuffs near the station for the family to make them eat.
Today people are talking about her priced possessions – which have market value – her house, her fleet of cars etc.
Lata Didi fought for royalty for singers, today singers get royalty because of Lata Mangeshkar.
Today, we should be talking about what Lata Didi has left for us, Remembering Lata Mangeshkar – the reincarnation of Maa Sawarswati – the Tulsi/Devi of Hindi film music has left a legacy of thousands songs, a priceless gift, a play list which will keep you moving, loved, inspiring, at all levels.
The feeling of empowerment with songs like ‘Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamana Hai’, the feeling of unparallel love like “ Tere Liye Palkon Ki Jhalar Bunu’ (this one in particular makes me cry, I still don’t know why).
Respect for the country with Vande Matram with Hemant Kumar, making the first PM of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru cry with Ae Mere Watan Ke Logo’ in 1963 and after around fifty nine years on Sunday 06, February 2022, making the current PM Shri Narendra Modi crossing all political barriers and making a visit to Mumbai to pay his last respect to Lata Didi is a testimony of impact the divine soul and goddess of Hindi play back singing had on Indians and the world around.
The Devi/Saraswati/Tulsi of Hindi film music had a regret that she was not able to take classical fully and was not in awe of the unnecessary sufi/Punjabi influence in Hindi film music where music started becoming functional and not always part of the story/flow with the culture of riyaaz getting forgotten.
Lata Didi’s songs still rule the reality shows, Yash Chopra said in case of Lata Mangeshkar art followed the artiste, Tu jaha jaha chalega mera saya saath hoga, Lata Mangeshkar and sur followed each other it seems to me.
The great Bade Ghulam Ali Khan saheb said about Lata Didi ‘Kambakht besuri hee nahi hoti.’ Satyam Shivam Sundaram - Chanchal Sheetal Nirmal Komal Sangeet Ki Devi Swar Sajni
Lata Didi Woh Devi/Tulsi Sangeet Ke Aangan Ki