Lata Mangeshkar- The incognito melody maker
Her grace as a voice-artist nonpareil has mesmerised us every single hour wherever we be on the planet. Her melodious renditions have won her a legion of fans but, few would be aware of an equally enchanting facet of her personality that like her singing has the distinctive stamp of timelessness. The part of her life-force veiled from the general public is her ability at crafting beautiful melodies. Few may be aware that Lata Mangeshkar was also a music composer par excellence.
For those uninitiated: Lata Mangeshkar, has composed some of the most iconic film and non-film melodies in her mother tongue Marathi. These classics have been an integral part of every Marathi music lover’s treasured collection for well over 5 to 6 decades of their release.
Bhalji Pendharkar, Filmmaker and Dadasaheb Phalke Award winner must be credited with ushering to the screen Lata Mangeshkar, the composer. Pendharkar was also the one who recommended that she assume a different name to compose because by 1950, when she first wielded the baton as a tunesmith she already was a leading playback voice. So, after much deliberation it was decided that this new mysterious music maker would carry the moniker- Anandghan (आनंदघन)-literally translated – A Cloud Of Joy-.
Anandghan’s, glorious film music journey taking off in 1950 with Ram Ram Pahuna lasted till 1969 Tambdi Mati(Red Mud) and included Mohityanchi Manjula (1963), Maratha Tituka Melava (1964)and Saadhi Manasa (1965),in which she has rolled out some of the most everlasting numbers, adapting to the film medium as a composer with the ease of a true maestro.
Her virtuosity as a composer can be seen in the sheer variety of melodies she created. From a spicy Lavni “Reshamachya Reghana” belted by sibling Asha Bhosle to the delectable Ode to the Gods in the sublime “Airanichya Deva” to the haunting “Akhercha Ha Tula Dandavat”- the marvellous range mirroring her understanding of the film medium, the situation, and versatility- the ideal mix for a film music composer.
Stating that she was at par with the best composers of the time would be no exaggeration. The likes of flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia and Santoor Maestro Shiv Kumar Sharma-a part of her orchestra contributed their wizardry to the gorgeous tunes.
“Sadhi Mansa” (1965) won Anandghan the best music composer award at the state level and it was only when the name was announced and she went up to receive the award that the world knew the true identity of Anandghan.
It is perhaps one of the reasons why no less a filmmaker than Hrishikesh Mukherjee-an excellent Sitar player himself- offered Lata Mangeshkar the opportunity to score the music for his sensitive film on the life of a cancer patient “Anand.” A tempting offer that was politely declined after much consideration as it would stymie her progress as India’s leading female playback singer. The singer, at one point, was also toying with the idea of teaming up with her talented composer brother Pt.Hridaynath Mangeshkar but, alas it was never to be. What did the industry and the world of music -especially her multitude of admirers lose because of this non-event is a matter of speculation.
Media personality and songwriter Amit Khanna, who wrote many of her popular songs like “Pal Bhar Mein Yeh Kya Ho Gaya” and Aap piye aur aap na jhoome” avers “She was one of the few singers who could add valuable inputs to the original melody of the music composer giving it an unmatched wholesomeness”. It was perhaps this aesthetic exuberance that seeped into her own creations and made it all the more endearing.
Popular tunesmith Lalit from the Jatin Lalit duo reminisces about the time they were recording for “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge”, the biggest film of their career at the time. The value she added to the chartbuster “Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye” has stayed with him over the years. He relates with reverence a particular nuance she added to the melody that became the heart of the song.
These are but a few insights into her gift for taking the basic composition to another level of artistry.
As is rightly believed, music is its own language. It is about time the finest works of Lataji as a composer are revived – much like her favourite composer Madan Mohan’s were for the film “Veer Zaara”-and presented to the larger audience who’d love to partake in their timeless ageless allure.
(We’re happy to share the link to this fine panel discussion where media personality and writer Amit Khanna, veteran Music Directors Lalit Pandit and Milind Shrivastava, Senior Journalist and Historian Pavan Jha discuss the legendary Lata Mangeshkar and her work as a music composer par excellence. The discussion was moderated by lyricist, author and RJ Vijay Akela.
Here’s the link https://youtu.be/-E0xV-jYkAM