Which is your favourite Lata Mangeshkar song? This is as difficult to decide as plucking out your favourite star from the sky. But what about the songs that matter the most to the Goddess Of All Melodious things?She picks. We listen.
1. Aayega Aanewala (Mahal, 1949):
The song that actually announced the arrival of the singing phenomenon. Lataji remembers every detail of the song: “I’ve forgotten most of my recordings. Even the songs that I’ve sung are mostly forgotten. But Aayega aanewala is still fresh in my mind. The haunting tune was composed by Khemchand Prakash. It was the first of many songs that I sang for a ghost. The song became a rage.I had to sing it in every live concert .Ironically I did not get credited for the song . The 78 rpm record mentioned the name on the label as ‘Kamini’ the character who lip-synced my song on screen in Mahal.”
2. Hawa Mein Udta Jaye/Jiya Beqaraar Hai (Barsaat, 1949):
“1949 was really the year when I arrived as a playback singer. It was the busiest year of my life. I was running from recording studio to another with barely room for pause.During this year I sang 150-160 songs. Most of them became hits. But the songs of Shankar-Jaikishan for Barsaat were popular on another level altogether.Every song in this film was a rage. But Hawa mein udta jaye and Jiya beqaraar hai were the biggest hits in Barsaat. Both were playful mischievous songs. Most of my biggest hits have been on a more serious note.
3. Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon (1963):
“When Ae mere watan ke logon was being created we never thought it would become such an imperishable patriotic anthem. I recall vividly that cold winter evening in Delhi in 1963 when I sang the song as part of the Republic Day celebrations in front of an audience that comprised President S. Radhakrishnan, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and so many other distinguished guests. It was Pradeepji, the poet who wrote the immortal lyric , who came to me and asked me to sing the song composed by C Ramachandra. I declined because there was no time to rehearse and prepare to sing it in front of so many distinguished personalities. You see,at that time I was working round-the-clock. To give special attention to one song seemed impossible. We had very little time to get Ae mere watan ke logon ready.Rather than do a rush job I wanted to opt out. But Pradeepji said if I don’t sing Ae mere watan ke logon he would scrap the idea.Only Pradeepji had faith in the song. He had prophesied to me, ‘Lata, tum dekhna yehgaana bahot chalega. Log hamesha ke liye issey yaad rakhenge.’
I didn’t take it that seriously.Since it was not part of a film I thought it would have a limited impact. Ae mere watan ke logon became my signature tune. No show of mine, no concert or event is complete until I sing Ae mere watan ke logon.I give full credit to Pradeepji fot writing such powerful words. He wrote words that reverberated across the nation. We had just come out of a war defeat with China. Ae mere watan ke logon triggered emotions of great patriotic pride in every Indian. My regret is that Pradeepji had not been called for the Republic Day function where I sang the song to immortality. If he was there he would have seen with his own eyes what impact Ae mere want ke logon had created.”
4. Allah Tero Naam (Hum Dono, 1961):
“ Of all the genres of songs, the devotional Bhajan is my favourite. And among all the Bhajans my favourite,and why just my favourite everyone’s favourite , is Allah tero naam. It is a deeply felt lyric written by the great Sahir Ludhianvi Saab.And Jaidev Saab composed such a beautiful tune! I did not sing that many songs for Jaidev Saab. But whatever I sang for him was very special.”
5. Dil Deewana Bin Sajna Ke Mane Na (Maine Pyar Kiya, 1989):
“This song was a turning-point for no other reason except that it came to me at a time when I was seriously considering retirement. Nothing inspiring was coming way. The film-music industry was in a slump.I felt there was no reason to continue doing playback singing. I decided to pursue my lifelong interest in classical singing instead. Just then composer Raam Laxman came to me with the songs of Maine Pyar Kiya.Dil dewaana and the songs of Yash Chopra’s Chandni revived my interest in playback singing.”