3 songs where the melody queen let her hair down
Subhash K Jha lists 3 songs of the Melody Queen, Lata Mangeshkar, that find her at her sensual best
It’s been two months to the day when Lataji left us. Not a day goes by when we don’t think of her whenever her songs play in our hearts and on our I-pods. An entire new generation of Lata bhakts has burgeoned almost overnight since she was gone. Subhash K Jha lists 3 songs of the Melody Queen that find her at her sensual best.
1. Aa jaan-e-jaan (Inteqaam): This Laxmikant-Pyarelal composition is regarded by many Lata bhakts as the most sensuous song she ever sang. Surely the drumbeats, the trumpets, the cannibalistic chorus slithering towards danseuse Helen as she cavorts and slithers in enticing moves, all add to an experience that qualifies Lataji’s versatility. Speaking about the song, Lataji once told me, “Laxmikant-Pyarelal who were very close to me, were always experimenting with my voice. When they suggested a cabaret song for me, my first reaction was, “No!! Asha(Bhosle) my sister sings cabaret songs so brilliantly. Why should I attempt something that is not my forte? But they insisted and the result was this number.” Helen who danced to this Inteqaam classic once said that though most of her cabaret songs were sung by Asha Bhosle, her favourite was Aa jaan-e-jaan.
2. Mujhe Buddha mil gaya (Sangam): When Lataji heard the words and the situation for this song, her response was to refuse outright. She told the Sangam maker Raj Kapoor to get someone else for this song. But Raj Kapoor was adamant. “If you are singing the whole album why should some other singer do this song?” And what was so prohibitive about the number? It has the heroine Vyjayanthimala seducing her husband Raj Kapoor to stay in the hotel during their honeymoon rather than go to a striptease club. An upbeat Parisian version of Geeta Dutt’s Na jao saiyyan chhuda ke baiyyan in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. Lataji finally agreed. “And thank God for that!” laughs Vyjayanthimala. “She made the situation seem so decent and aesthetic. Once I knew Lataji was singing Buddha mil gaya I was completely relaxed.”
3. Pichware Buddha khansta (Anita): In director Raj Khosla’s Mera Saya, Asha Bhosle sang the super-blockbuster folk song Jhumka gira re for composer Madan Mohan. One year later, when Khosla directed Anita with the same star cast (Sadhana, Manoj Kumar), he switched from Madan Mohan to Laxmikant-Pyarelal. His brief to L-P: “Compose a song for Lata on Sadhana that is as folksy and sensuous as Asha Bhosle’s Jhumka gira re for Sadhana in Mera Saya.” Laxmi-Pyare came up with Pichware Buddha khansta. Lataji described it as a “no holds barred” fun song. It retains its rumbustious flavor to this day.