Forever magic: Waheeda Rehman’s screen bond with Lata Mangeshkar

Every song that Lata Mangeshkar sang for Waheeda Rehman in Guide edified the allure of the character Rosy, writes Subhash K. Jha

Waheeda Rehman (left) and Lata Mangeshkar
Waheeda Rehman (left) and Lata Mangeshkar
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Subhash K Jha

Perhaps the single most celebrated song born out of the collaboration between Waheeda Rehman and Lata Mangeshkar is, hands down, Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai from Guide (1965).

Waheeda recalls, “No one in the Guide team thought much about Aaj phir... We were all saying, ‘Theek hai, dekhte hain (ok, let's see)’. Everyone  was crazy about Rafi sahab’s Din dhal jaye and Tere mere sapne. But this is destiny. Aaj phir... is the  song I am most closely identified with.”

Of course, there is much more to the almost mythic Waheeda Rehman’s onscreen image than this one iconic song. Every song that Lataji sang for Waheeda Rehman in Guide edified the allure of the character Rosy, including Piya tosey naina lage re, Saiyyan beimaan, and Gata rahe mera dil

“I would say Lataji contributed tremendously to my career, not just in Guide but to my entire career, right up to Phagun (1973), after which I had to switch to character roles. In Rang De Basanti (2006), Lataji sang the beautiful lullaby Lukka chuppi for me,” says Waheeda, who turns 84 today.

After her initial hits in the 1950s — Shamshad Begum's Kahi pe nigahen kahin pe nishana in Waheeda’s Hindi debut CID (1956) and Geeta Dutt singing for her in Pyaasa (1957) — it was Lataji all the way for Waheeda.

Their first superhit was Kahin deep jale kahin dil in 1961 (a song that  also marked Lataji’s return, as she had nearly lost her voice prior to this) in Bees Saal Baad composed by the brilliant Hemant Kumar, followed by Raat bhi hai kuch bheegi bheegi and Tere bachpan ko jawaani ki dua in Mujhe Jeene Do (1963) composed by the underrated Jaidev, followed by the ethereal O beqaraar dil in Kohraa (1964).

Two Waheeda Rehman starrers during this period — Kohra and Khamoshi — featured two of Lataji’s most enduring classics, Jhoom jhoom dhalti raat  and Humne dekhi hai. However, neither of these two were filmed on Waheeda.

The next few chartbusters from the duo were Soya mera laal (Meri Bhabhi, 1969), Rangeela re (Prem Pujari, 1970), Chala bhi aa (Mann Ki Aankhen, 1970), Mujhe pyar karne ka (Darpan, 1970), and Ae mere aankhon ke (Man Mandir, 1971).

Sunil Dutt’s Reshma Aur Shera (1971) which fetched the fabulously talented Jaidev a National Award, also gave Waheeda the opportunity to lip-sync two of Lataji’s best songs — Tu chanda main chandni and Ek mithi si chubhan, which the legend herself ranked among her favourites.

“Waheedaji put them across so beautifully on screen. We had a special  bond,” Lataji had once said to me.

But the piece de resistance of this cadenced collaboration was the epic number Tu mere saath rahega munne in Yash Chopra’s Trishul (1978). As written by Sahir Ludhianvi and composed by Khayyam, Tu mere... probably remains the one-stop destination to immortality for the incandescent Waheeda Rehman.

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