Dilip Kumar on how Lata Mangeshkar touched lives of Indians

'There are good singers, but no one has been able to equal her (Lata's) refinement. It is difficult for anyone to compete with her as there is so much of her in every person who cares for music'

Dilip Kumar introduced Lata Mangeshkar at her first
international concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London.
1974.
Dilip Kumar introduced Lata Mangeshkar at her first international concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London. 1974.
user

Nasreen Munni Kabir

In 1989/90, I was making a documentary series on Lata Mangeshkar called LATA IN HER OWN VOICE for Channel 4 TV, UK and knew there was no one as articulate and perceptive as Dilip Kumar to speak on the subject. He regarded her with much affection and respect. She too would smile the minute his name was mentioned and you could sense her great feeling for him. Excerpts from the interview:

Dilip Kumar: You ask what effect Lata’s voice has? It’s like asking what kind of effect magic has on a person. First there is the quality of her voice – it is crystalline, beautiful like the mood, immersed in sweetness. It is melodic, honey-like. Although her voice is thin, the sound quality is superior. Like all good singers she is very mindful of her voice. Her work discipline and practise have not been affected by her success. She continues to be untouched by her fame.

She may give the impression of being a person with complexes – she has none. She wants to protect herself. She does not want other things to come near her. This solitude is a very essential part of all artists. People may want to get close to her and if too many people get close to an artist, the artist can be overrun.

Filmmakers wanted to leave a mark on the hearts of the audience. And this fine artist’s beautiful voice has linked itself with the heart. There are an infinite number of hearts, thousands, millions — that have been marked by Lata. You have been and so have I.


There is also the memory factor. These songs have become part of one’s memory, of one’s life. That voice, the notes she sings, that atmosphere, the story of the film, that suffering, that happiness, that separation.

In our music there is a lot of sentimentality, particularly in poetry. There are so many songs, written with such beautiful words and when you recall them, your past life is resurrected, and this has a much greater impact than memory has. So, what we have embedded in our hearts, as far as Lata’s voice is concerned, is far more powerful than life itself.

Now, if someone else were to sing the same song, the effect would disappear pretty quickly. I must say that there are good singers, but no one has been able to equal her refinement. It is very difficult for anyone to compete with her because there is so much of her in every person who cares for music.

NMK: Have you witnessed her recording?

DK: I have sat by her many times when she was recording a song. I used to ask myself, “What is the effect of her singing on me?’ It affected my mind and heart and there was a sensation that ran through the body like a mild electrical current. Her voice has that quality, it can create a tremor in a person.

I think whenever you hear something very beautiful it has an impact on you, and that impact is made even stronger by the addition of the story and the given film situation.

I will give you a crude example: So many people tell me: “You know, in such-and-such a film, you did something really wonderful in that scene and I can never forget it.” I ask myself: “What was it? What is that particular thing that has entered a person’s psyche – I myself have forgotten what it was. I am sure Lata does not remember each one of her songs, but for other people, the way that she sang them, with all the inflections, has become a part of their lives.

Memory is very precious and I think there is nothing more beautiful than a sweet memory. We try to resurrect our past when we grow up – resurrect the sweeter moments from our childhood that are so beautiful and elevating. And so, Lata is part of that phenomena – it is so elevating. It would be difficult to replace her, or to equal her, because the size of her involvement in our lives is unparalleled.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines