Lata Mangeshkar chooses her own favourite songs

Lata Mangeshkar talks about her top 5 favourite songs on her 90th birthday, talking to Subhash Jha about why she loves those songs

Photo by Milind Shelte/India Today Group/Getty Images
Photo by Milind Shelte/India Today Group/Getty Images

Subhash K Jha

Lata Mangeshkar’s favourite Lata Mangeshkar numbers keep changing, as do ours. But the ones that she doesn’t like, remain unmoved. Among the classics of the immortal Lata Mangeshkar that we adore; the ones that Lataji doesn’t like are Bindiya Chamkegi(Do Raaste) , Piya bina pinya bina(Abhimaan) and Teri yaad karte karte (Amrapali).

Here are Lataji’s self-picked Top 10 for her 90th birthday.

1. Khwab bann kar koi ayega toh neend ayegi, Razia Sultan: Everybody loves Ae dil-e-nadaan so much that we tend to neglect this other gem from Razia Sultan. Says Lataji, “The director Kamal Amrohi explained the entire situation in detail. Khayyam Saab wanted a particular mood. He was very clear in his mind about what to do.”

2. Chunri sambhal gori, Baharon Ke Sapne: Everyone raves over Lataji’s solo Kya janoon sajan. What about this snappy foot tapping folksy number with Manna Dey? Says Lataji, “Chunri sambhal was much more difficult to sing than Kya janoon sajan and Aaja piya tohe pyar doon in Baharon Ke Sapne. The exclamation ‘Ha-ah’ after ever line of the mukhda was Pancham’s idea. It added a new dimension to the song.”

3. Barse ghan sari raat Sangg sow jao, Tarang: The only song that Lataji sang for composer Vanraj Bhatia is a long discursive meditative melody on the yearnings of love. The poetry by Raguvir Sahay has a very high erotic quality. Says Lataji, “I remember this was a very tough song. In the way the composition moved it reminded me of my brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar’s compositions. On top of that, the complex lyrics were in a free-flowing no-rhyme format. This was one of my biggest singing challenges.”

4. Tu aaj apni haath se kuch bigdi sawaar de, Daku: An obscure long-forgotten film directed by Basu Bhattacharya, this film is best remembered for Amrita Pritam’s pain lashed poetry of protest where an outcast woman wonders how she can bring her child up with dignity. Says Lataji, “If I am not mistaken this song was composed by Shyamji-Ghanshyamji. The poetry was powerful. It addressed the anguish of a downtrodden mother pleading with God for a better life for her child. I always felt good about singing words that conveyed more than what was actually being sung.”

5. Raja beta soya mera, Raja Harishchandra: A mother sings a lullaby to her dead child. Can’t get any more tragic? Lataji sings her brother’s composition with such heart-breaking intensity. She recalls, “It wasn’t easy doing this song. The lyrics were a about a grieving mother. The composition was replete with steep dips and curves. I am always scared to sing my brother’s songs. Everyone at the recording was weeping.”

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