Lata Mangeshkar remembers Naushad on his 14th death anniversary on May 5

I owe a lot to Naushad Saab. In terms of voice modulation and specially pronunciation of Urdu words, he helped me through difficult Ghazals, says Lata Mangeshkar

 Lata Mangeshkar and Naushad (Photo Courtesy: Twitter)
Lata Mangeshkar and Naushad (Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

Subhash K Jha

Naushad, says Lata Mangeshkar, was a perfectionist. “He was never satisfied with a recording, and would insist on one more take. I’d get the tune right in the first take. But he would say, ‘Come back tomorrow for more rehearsal.’. That’s how he was, never satisfied with the end-result, always ready to polish a tune.”

Recording with Naushad Saab was never easy. Lata ji recalls one specially challenging recording. “It was a for Naushad saab in Baiju Bawra. It was the song Dur koi gaye dhun yeh sunaye with Shamshad Begum. The set to shoot this dance number had been put up. I had not been able to record the song because I was out of town. Naushad Saab rang me up and said, ‘Aap bas aa jayiye. Hum record karenge aur who gana shoot karenge.’ At first I didn’t understand what he meant. What he was saying was, they were waiting to get the song on the set. I had to fly back, record the song and then they were to shoot the song. This was very unusual.

Almost like a live recording? “Yes, there was no time to rehearse, Shamshad ji has already sung her portions. Everything was done. Only I had to sing. There was no time to lose. It had to be a one-take recording. I asked Naushad Saab if he thought I could do it. ‘Tum kar paogi,’ he was confident. By God’s grace, we did it.”

Lata ji was close to Naushad Saab. “Naushad Saab was close, very close to not just me but to my entire family, specially my brother Hridaynath. In fact Naushad Saab was so close to my brother that when my brother had a son he named his child Baijnath inspired from the film Baiju Bawra which was one of Naushad Saab’s earliest classic ,classical, score, Hriday sang for the child actor who played Baiju and I sang for baby Tabassum who played the child Meena Kumari. But I remember little Hridaynath sang a song for Naushad even before that for Naushad Saab in a film called Diwana in 1952. The song was Yeh duniya kaisi hai bhagwan.”

Lata ji is filled with gratitude to Naushad Saab. “I owe a lot to Naushad Saab. In terms of voice modulation and specially pronunciation of Urdu words, he took keen interest in the way I sang and helped me through difficult Ghazals like Uthaye jaa unke sitam in Andaz and Pyar kiya toh darna kya in Mughal-e-Azam. Naushad Saab’s score in the film Rattan in 1942 was a turning point for Hindi film music. It changed the way we looked at film music. There is a false mythology surrounding my rendition of Pyar kiya toh darna kya. That Naushad Saab and I got the echo effect in the song by making me sing in the bathroom of the recording room. No such thing happened. During those days when songs were recorded with a huge live orchestra, the studios were stuffy enough. Singing from the bathroom would have been impossible. It wouldn’t be wrong to say Naushad Saab nurtured my voice cultivated my abilities and honed my skills. He was a perfectionist to the core. He would not compromise on a single note in a melody. When I recorded with him I made sure my diction was faultless. Before me Naushad Saab had worked with singers who had a natural command over the Urdu language like Shamshad Begum, Noorjahan and Suraiya. I had to make sure my Urdu was as good.

I learnt more from recording with Naushad Saab than I can express. He was a father-figure and a mentor and like I said, so close to my entire family right till his final years. When there was a wedding in the Mangeshkar family Naushad Saab was of frail health. But he came for the wedding on a wheelchair to bless the couple. This is how much we Mangeshkars mattered to him. I am indebted to Naushad Saab.”

You can listen to one of the most popular song composed by Naushad and sung by Lata Mangeshkar here:

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