Lata: The queen of cadence

QUEEN of cadence by M.L. Dhawan (Spectrum, Sept 24) gives a view of the melody queen Lata Mangeshkar’s unparalleled contribution to Indian film music. Of the four leading musicians who have been honoured with the highest national award, the Bharat Ratna, she is the only one who is not a classical musician but has left a far more deep impact on listeners in India and abroad.

Lata Mangeshkar is one of the few celebrities who have donated their earnings for a social cause.

She has built a large public hospital in Pune and named it after her late father Pandit Dinanath Mangeshkar, thus winning the gratitude of a large number of not-so-privileged people.

V.K. RANGRA, Delhi



Lata has been active in all walks of Indian popular and light classical music, having sung film songs, ghazals, bhajans and pop. The Guinness Book of Records listed her as the most-recorded artist in the world with not less than 30,000 solo, duet and chorus-backed songs recorded in 20 Indian languages.

She could master vocal exercises effortlessly and from early on she was recognised as being highly gifted musically. She also acted in as many as eight films in Hindi and Marathi. She made her debut as a playback singer in the Marathi film Kiti Hasaal.

The first Hindi film in which she gave playback was Aap ki Sewa Main (1947) but without any notice. Lata was even rejected for Shaheed (1948). However Ghulam Haider unable to use her in Shaheed gave Lata her breakthrough song with Dil Mera Toda from Majboor (1948). The four films in 1949, Barsaat, Andaaz, Dulari and Mahal were runaway hits particularly Aaega Aanewaalaa from the last film. 

Geeta Dutt survived the Lata onslaught. Asha Bhosle too came up in the late 1950s and the two sisters were the queens of Indian playback singing right through to the 1990s.

The 1960s and 1970s saw Lata go from strength to strength even as there were accusations of her monopolising the field. Lata cut down on her workload to concentrate on her shows abroad. Lata Mangeshkar sings infrequently now but even today the songs of some of the biggest hits of today Dil To Paagal Hai (1997), Maachis (1997), Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (1994) and Dil Se (1998) are sung by her. From Nargis to Kajol, she’s sung for them all. Lata Mangeshkar is in fact that rare artiste who has realised her search for excellence.

M.L. GARG, Chandigarh

Buying land in HP

This has reference to Khushwant Singh’s Despoiling Himachal (Saturday Extra, Sept 30). His observation about not allowing the outsiders to purchase land in Himachal can be disputed. There are valid reasons behind this policy of Himachal Pradesh.

When Himachal was a part of the Punjab, rich people from the plains used to purchase land at throwaway prices from the poor and illiterate hillmen. The hillmen became the tenants or farm labourers. Their sons started working as domestic servants in the plains. Happily this unfortunate practice was stopped after the formation of the state of Himachal Pradesh.

Wayside ‘dhabas’ or small restaurants which are run by the poor Himachalis after taking small self-employment loans from the government do not cause any damage to the ecology of the area as they run their businesses just by the side of the road. n

V. P. MEHTA, Chandigarh


Master Madan, prodigious singer

This refers to Pran Nevile’s write-up Master Madan (Spectrum, October 1). More than five decades ago, I heard a ghazal with the exordium Yoon na raih raih kar hamein tarsaaeeye / Aaeeye, aa jaaeeye, aa jaaeeye (I have forgotten the actual words), sung by Master Madan.

On the couplet Phir vohi daanista thokar khaaeeye / Phir meri aaghosh mein gir jaaeeye, a nonagenarian, who was sitting beside me and was a great admirer of the singer and had seen him in some concerts, went into ecstasy crooning the verse Ghazal us ney chheri mujhey saaz dena / Zara umar-e-rafta ko aavaaz dena.

According to him Master Madan was a simple, guileless, good-looking chap having a pleasant disposition, and although he wore splendid dress he was not conceited or showy.

It is said that if the last Mughal King, Bahadur Shah Zafar, had composed only the verse Kitna hai bad-naseeb Zafar dafn key liye / Do gaz zameen bhee mil na saki koo-e-year mein, it would have preserved him from oblivion as a poet. I think, only two odes of Saaghar Nizaami sung by Master Madan would have perpetuated his memory even if he had not sung any other number.

Many people think that his voice resembled to some extent those of Malikah Pukhraj, and Begum Akhtar. However, his soft and sweet voice was nonpereil, which cast a spell on the audience. He had a wonderful knack of modulating it as required by a particular word or expression.

He brought down the house in every concert. Certainly, “there was some thing unearthly in the gifted child”.

There is no iota of doubt that he would have become the dean of ghazal and classical singers. Ah gulcheen-e-ajal sey kaisi naadaani hui / Phool voh tora ke gulshan bhar mei veeraani hui.





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