Articles By Lataji

Translation By Sameer Desai


Thinking a lot about the song, putting in hard work, etc, such a mentality is not seen now a days. Making a quickest possible, simple, and easy song is what is done. Nobody feels the necessity of presenting music which would leave an effect on the mind and create an impression.. the result, one or two good songs are heard. Earlier an entire movie used to run on songs. Even if the movie was a flop, the songs used to be great hits. But nowadays, if a movie crashes, the songs too crash and once the movie is gone, the songs too are forgotten. Then if such a song is sung, people feel, why this one?

One of those many such evenings. When I am alone or late in the night, birds of memories start fluttering everywhere. Old, new memories start wandering around me..a journey over so many many experiences. Many of them nice, sweet, fit to be remembered again and again. And experiences very bitter. But my life grew richer and prospered due to all these. All that flashes in front of my eyes again an again. My song. my co-singers…… poets and all those technicians working in the studios…..and all those innumerable fans who loved me beyond imagination. My song was liked, admired by them…… they took me on their heads…… brought me to this position……and God always helped me.

That’s the reason, I never felt like taking pride in whatever I did. The moment pride is born in an artist, it is the death of art in that artist… whatever I have with me, all that is his(God). If we have this in mind, then never in life do we feel sad and let down. Whatever happens gives us happiness.Similarly I kept on receiving happiness. I had the luck of carrying forward the legacy of my Baba (father), it was with his blessings only. Therefore, whenever I start remembering myself, memories of my Baba are aroused afresh……

I was hardly 4-5 years old. I still remember….. there was a stand to keep the utensils in our kitchen. I used to stand on that and sing in front of Mai (mother)…. At times Saigal’s songs, sometimes Baba’s music pieces and ragas….. I used to sing loudly….. but never did I have the courage to sing near my Baba.It was one such evening. I was roaming in the gallery of our house…… with little Asha in my arms….. Within the hall, Baba was teaching a student of his… I was listening from outside.At that time, Baba had to go some where out. He told his student, “you continue practicing, I will come back.”…… the student was singing…..I was listening from outside. I felt he was singing wrongly, faultily. I went in and told him, this Raag Pooriya Dhanshri is not sung like this by Baba. Then I started to sing the Raga for him.

I was singing, at the same time Baba returned…. Stood behind me. I did not have the slightest hint …. I kept on singing. He listened to my song. Then he said to Mai, “ I have a singer in my house, why teach outsiders ?Baba used to get late due to his work related to music, but however late in the night, he used to get up early the next morning. The next day he woke me up… said, “Lata get up. Take up the Tambora. I will teach you.” The piece of music which I had sung, the same he taught me.And thus started my song. I was just four years old then……. Since then till now this song has being my companion.

Baba was from Goa, and Mai from Khandesh. Our childhood was spent in Sangli itself. Therefore our household language and living was all Marathi. Baba used to speak Marathi. But in moments of happiness or anger he used to start out in Konkani unknowingly. He used to say : AGO CHENDU KITE KARTA ! or PHUTTUR MAGE LO. But all other talk was in Marathi.

But the food he liked was Konkani styled only. He liked fish and meat very much. And though Mai was a pure vegetarian, she used to cook non-vegetarian food for baba. In those days, she used to accompany baba from place to place along with our drama company. In those places, baba used to get invitations for banquets from royal families of those places. Then baba used to come back home and say that the food there was very good. This used to trigger, and Mai used to go there, learn what was prepared, how it was prepared, then return home and prepare a similar dish for baba. Mai remained a vegetarian till the end. Hrudayanath and his daughter are also vegetarians, they do not even eat eggs. But we sisters became non-vegetarians.


The atmosphere in our house was very conservative. How the girls should be, how they should behave, baba had laid down strictures regarding these. If I ever forgot applying Kumkum, he used to point it out….. he used to ask me to wear bangles. But such were those days, the way people saw at the girls was such. That’s why there was a ban on watching late night dramas. Baba even did not like us waiting for his own dramas late in the night…. Even there was a ban on cinemas. Therefore there was no question of going for a movie.Even then if at all a movie was to be watched, it would be of Bhalji Pendharkar or of New Theaters…due to a feeling that those movies did not have anything indecent. Then when compared to todays movies all that appears funny. But song was in our house itself. Songs from baba’s dramas, his compositions were usual to us ; but we also could hear Saigal’s songs at home. Movies like Chandidas had come at that time. Among females, Kananbala was famous.

Once in Pune, I secretly went to watch the movie ‘Brahmachari’ at the Aryan cinema hall. Later when baba came to know of this… his anger knew no bounds. He expressed his anger on the movie thus, “ you had been to watch Brahmachari? That Ratan (Meenakshi), has she no shame, she shoots in a swimming dress?But see this fate ! I got everything after coming into this film industry itself. I used to like classical music. I also felt that my baba has a treasure of ragas, I should learn all of them……then I myself used to request him to teach me some particular raga. Then he used to teach me.

Ganapatrao Mohite, whom we used to call Ganu, used to learn music from baba. As soon as baba used to teach any new composition, I used to gall Ganu and ask him : I know this piece of music, do you?. He used to reply that he knew. That used to make me sad. I used to think that what I have learn just now, how come ganu knows it before me. He used to know then due to his years of learning near baba. But unknowingly my self esteem would be hurt by this.Baba had his own stride. We used to be afraid of him. But he never even touched us…. But even then we were under the terror of his glance. His eyes were large… any mischief from us, he used to just lay a glance at us…… as if to say “ do you understand what I mean….will not repeat again ?” and that’s it.But Mai used to beat us black and blue, specially me. I was very mischievous. I always used to play… and naturally the fruit was beating.


Baba was respected by one and all in Sangli… he was like a God to people…. I was Master Dinanath’s daughter. Right from my childhood I had a feeling that no one would say a thing regarding music to me.My aunty was Vijabai. Her daughter Vasanti was studying in class third in Murlidhar’s school at Sangli. The school was near to our house. I used always follow her to the school. I used to force her to take me to school. She told me that I had to be quite there, else the teacher would scold. I agreed. The school had a one hour period of music per week. Ranade bai used to come to teach music. She saw me and asked “Ae Vasanti, who is she?”. I stood up and replied, “ Master Dinanath’s daughter”. She asked me, “Is it so? He is such a good singer, can you sing?” An instant reply shot out from my mouth, “YES !. She asked me to come to the office on the ground floor during the recess break. Later I went there. All the teachers were present. I did not feel afraid at all. “ Yes, can you sing?” someone asked me. I replied that I could sing ragas, I can sing Malkauns, Hindol, etc etc. Then they asked me to sing. I sang a composition in Rag Hindol. All were very much impressed and sent a message home to baba, “ your daughter sings very well”.

Baba said, “ good, you went there and sang. Showed your mischief !!”. Then Mai told my father to send me to school. I was very small. I was admitted to the same school in the Bigari (nursery or kindergarten, probably) class on the ground floor. Our teacher was a six foot tall person. A long Dagala(a type of traditional shirt), a bordered dhoti, sandalwood paste on his forehead, a Pagadi ( a traditional headwear – the one like Balagangadhar Tilak), such was our teacher. He entered the class and wrote Shri Ganeshaya Namaha on the board. He asked us to write the same. I wrote it. He checked my slate, and said, “Wah ! good, ten marks out of ten.” I was overjoyed. On returning home, I told Mai about the miracle of me getting ten out of ten marks. She appreciated it a lot and asked me to study in the same way with dedication.

…….. but what, it was my handiwork. The next day I took little Asha in my arms and went to the school. I placed her beside me and started writing. The teacher came there and said, “you cannot bring your sister like this, it would not be accepted.”But I had in my mind, the same old thing, I am Master Dinanath’s daughter !! I picked up Asha and immediately returned home. And I said to Mai, “ What if he is a teacher? Why should he have spoken in such a way?” Mai told this to baba. He said, “ Let her not go to school. We will teach her at home.” Then my education began at home. We had a servant called Vithal Kambli. I asked him to teach me. He started to teach me the basic syllables A, AA, E, EEE, etc. but how much could he teach? Then I got some books and started to learn.

Around the same time baba went to Mumbai. Our financial condition had worsened …… we used to suffer a lot….. Hridaynath was born. Baba then decided to that he would cut off from the movie industry and stay only in the drama line. He suffered huge losses in the film industry. He started the Balwant Natak Company……. We celebrated Hridaynath’s first birthday at Satara. By ill fate, during the same time baba started to suffer from high blood pressure. In 1937 Balvant Company was started. In 1940 it closed down. In those days, there were no medicines for blood pressure like today. In 1941 we came to Pune. A lot happened around this time. We lost everything. Our house in Sangli was auctioned. But we were all very young, we could not understand all that. But I had the fortune of performing with baba on stage. My first performance on the stage with baba was in 1941 in Pune at Bahuli Houda. I even sang on the radio with baba. I also did classical music concerts with baba.


In 1942 Baba passed away. At that time Master Vinayak was working on the movie ‘Pahili Mangalagaur’. He heard my song and called me in ‘Navyug studio’. He was to direct the movie. But something went wrong and he left the project and went away to Kolhapur. There he started ‘Praful pictures’. While going he told me that he would call me to Kolhapur. Then ‘Pahili mangalagaur’ was directed by Junnarkar. After finishing that movie, I went to Kolhapur in 1942. I was just 13 years old ! Later in 1945 I had to come to Mumbai. Master Vinayak was making a hindi movie ‘Badi maa’. The film had Noorjehan in it. I had met her in Kolhapur itself. I used to like her songs a lot, because I had seen her first film. Noorjehan listened to my song and said to me, “ you sing very good. Practice well.”. I felt very good. Later in Mumbai our meetings increased. She used to always encourage me.


Till I came into movies, I used to like Bengali film music a lot. But when I was in Kolhapur, movies like ‘Basant’, ‘Kismat’ etc were released. Music in these films was changed to certain extent……it was the 1944-45 period. When I was in Pune, Master Gulam Haider’s first movie ‘Khajanchi’ was released. The music in this film changed the style of hindi film movies itself. The movie was a very big hit. Here onwards hindi films started having a touch of punjabi music. Till then it was the influence of Marathi music due to ‘Prabhat cinema’ and bengali music due to ‘New Theatres’. After ‘Khajanchi’, composers like Naushad came in. And music started to change. Exactly around the same time I came into playback singing. Master Vinayak expired in 1947 and his company closed down. I lost my job.

………it was ten days since Vinayak had passed….. I did not have work…… everyone at home was dependant on me…. Hrydaynath used to be ill, expenditure of his medicines…. What to do……….I could not understand a thing….. After ‘Pahili mangalagaur’ I had acted in many films. I had even acted in many of Vinayak’s movies like ‘Chimukla sansar’, ‘Gajabhau’, ‘Badi maa’, and his last venture ‘ Mandir’. Vinayak had even directed one of V. Shantaram’s movies. I had a role in that too. ……..But to be true, I never liked to act in movies…..but even then I did all that. The reason, family members at home should not feel the lack of any thing. We had lead a royal life during Baba’s reign. The same should continue and nothing should be lost, this is what I felt…… and I worked.

Six to seven years after the death of baba were of horrible misery…. Unwanted, undesirable days. During that period we came across different types of people. Many cheated….. troubled and harassed a lot…… some good people were also seen. Who was true…..who was a cheat, I could not understand anything. How much money I should take for my work, I never understood. Some paid me, some never paid……. I could not understand a thing…… …..there was a music director…. A non-marathi person. I liked his music very much. You can say that I was his fan. He decided to produce a movie. He asked me about singing. I told him, “If it is your movie, I do not want any money. I would have taken money for others…..” And anyway what would we get for singing…. ……. Two hundred to three hundred per song. But for what would it suffice?…..He took my signatures on vouchers….and I signed. He probably did it to avoid income tax. I did not even see what amount he had written opposite my name on the vouchers. …….. I used to respect like my father. I had such faith on him. Even today whenever his name is discussed, I always speak good…..but that person did such a thing……I do not blame him. Probably at that time, he thought of himself……. But I mean to say is that I even met such people.

I even came across people who listened to my song and behaved very well with me.

.. this is an incident of later times. I was singing for Madanmohan. The song was recorded and the producer asked what amount I would take for the song. I never used to name an amount. Then Madan bhaiyya asked me. I said, “one thousand”. The producer said that I should take TWO THOUSAND. I denied saying that two was too much. He immediately said that I had sung very well and so I should take two thousand. He even added that it was his wish.

……. So I met such good people also. All the people in the film industry are not bad. Some good, some bad, and that is it.

If I have to write about music, I would like to say that I used to like the music of those days very much. Saigal and Noorjehan had their influence on me in those days. But I never sang like Noorjehan. Because copying is against my principles. I used to think, that if I sang like Noorjehan, what was my necessity, Noorjehan was already there !! But I used to listen to their songs intently. How they pronounce different words, how they say ‘HAI’, ‘MOHABBAT’ etc. I used to keep all this in my mind and sing accordingly.

…….I received a lot of guidance and help from musicians like Gulam Haider, Anil Biswas and Naushad regarding usage and pronunciation of words, speaking clearly etc. Then came Shankar-Jaikishan, and they changed film music. Their music suited me a lot. I got a new turn with their music. Music changed. Then others started to imitate Shankaro-Jaikishan in their compositions. Now it was difficult to identify whose music it was. ……..But the funniest thing was that whosoever be the music director, I used to be there in the songs. All used to wait for me. Initially Shankar-Jaikishan did not have much of a classical touch to their music. Then they brought in that change. But Vasant Desai’s music was quite different. He used to create a marvellous mixture of folk music and classical music. Even Naushad gave very good music. His ‘Baiju bawra’ was excellent. Even his music was classical based.

But Madanmohan and I, we were a different lot. His gazals….. his classical touch…. Everything was different. But we never thought of doing something different. But while singing his compositions, I used to get a totally different happiness and joy…… I keep on remembering many of Madan mohan’s songs. But his films which I specially liked were Jahanara, Woh kaun thi…..the song “Lag ja gale” is still dancing on my lips. But his ill fate was that, even after giving such excellent music, many of his songs were suppressed. No trace was found of them. I do not feel that someone did it. Rather in those days, there was a lot of competition and all were at the top !…….It was a competition of quality. Even Salil Choudhary was the same. You will not find a film of his without my song. He and Sachindev Burman blended folk music from their region with classical music.

Salil choudhary was a challenge to singers. His tunes used to be tough. But he always used to say, that other than Lata no one can sing my songs. ‘Aja re paradesi’ or ‘ghadi ghadi mora dil dhadake’ were such songs which anyone could sing. But there were some songs, which did not become hits, but they had very difficult tunes, and I do not feel anyone could have sung those. His specialty was that he used to blend classical, folk music and Russian music too freely. Symphony was his pet subject. Mozart and Choykoski were his favorites. ……. Once he came to my house and took me in his car. He took me to Rhythm House. There he bought LPs worth 500-600 rupees, all of symphony. He gave all of those to me and asked me to listen to them. I did and since then started liking symphony very much. To tell you the truth, Madan mohan, Shankar-Jaikishan and Salil Choudhary brought the turning point for hindi film music. Sajjad Hussain was of a totally different framework. His music had an Arabian touch to it. His alaap used to be similar to those of Arabs. In the song, ‘ Ae Dilruba’, he displayed how to take a unrestrained and light alaap with fluctuations in an inner pitch.

Sachinda’s son Rahul-pancham created wonders. He gave an Indian touch to western music. He did not just copy. His western-appearing songs had a pure Indian touch. Pancham’s stress lay on rhythm. He himself had learnt sarod from Ali Akbarji. ……..Pancham was very gifted. He used to make songs according to singers. He created songs for me, totally of a different class. His songs for Kishore used to be well apart.


But I like to listen to Indian classical music. But of selected people….. like Bade Gulam Ali Khan, Amir Khan Saheb, Jasrajji, Bhimsen. I have seen and listened to many of the old people. …….I was also impressed by Begum Akhtar’s ghazals and Barkat Ali Khan. There are not many records of Barkat ali. Someone had sent me some records from Pakistan, but not many. I even like Mehdi hassan. ……..In western music I liked ‘Not King Cole’ a lot…. Everyone at home liked him. I have all of his records. Even today, if I get them I buy. …….There is a Lebanese singer. Her name is Fairooz. She sings very well….. Another singer from Saudi Arabia – her name Umeh Khultu. She was very famous. I have her records. I have listened to their songs also. …….I liked songs from movies like ‘ Sound of Music’. But to be frank, I do not like the western style of ‘Opera’. I do not like, because I do not understand it. The way they sing in high pitch, that is what I do not like. When it comes to symphony, Mozart is my favorite. My mood changes on listening to him. When I feel depressed, I listen to Mozart, to be filled with joy again. In American music, I like to listen to Bing Crossby or the singer from ‘Star is born’. If a song is soft and mild, I appreciate listening to it. But I do not like the other hue and cry in music.. Among the Beatles, I like their rhythm, their style of singing, their words, the difference in that and all that. But the shouting and screaming which come after that, I do not like that. I cannot listen to it.


Today’s ways have changed, style has changed. There is no surety that today’s song will be remembered tomorrow. Because the songs are such. Even today people listen to my ‘Aayega aanewala’ with interest. Even today it impresses them the same way as then. Where ever I go they ask me to sing it. But if it is a song from the last two years, they would not ask me to sing the same. And if I start singing, they would say, why this song? But there are exceptions to this. For example, Yash Chopra. He is always conscious about songs. Songs from his ‘Dilwale dulhaniya le jayenge’ or the later one ‘Dil to pagal hai’ were good. Then there was the ‘Jiya jale’ song by A.R. Rehman in ‘Dil se’. It was excellent. Such songs come once in a while, but as exceptions ! What happens is, just one or two good songs come in. Earlier entire movies used to run on songs. Even if a movie failed, its songs used to be hits. But nowadays, if a movie crashes, the songs too crash and once the movie is gone, the songs too are forgotten. Then if such a song is sung, people feel, why this one?

Even Laxmikant-Pyarelal did a wonderful job. They gave such beautiful songs. Even Khayyam was the same. A very old music director. I like all of his compositions. But out of them all, I like ‘Ae dil-e-nadan’, sung my me. What a beautiful song it was. Even though the movie was a flop, the song is liked by people even today. Ravi was a music composer of a definite framework. But Ravindra Jain was of a different style. Have a look at his ‘Ram teri ganga maili’ or his last work ‘ Heena’. His style was totally different. Hemant Kumar was a very good singer, but he was a better music director. What has happened today is that, the songs are also very badly written. Saying that tunes are composed initially is no reason for this. Because even in olden days this used to happen. S. D. Burman used to compose tunes first. Then Shailendra used to write beautiful songs for those tunes. But today where do we have good lyricists? The last good lyricist was Majrooh Sultanpuri. He went. Today you do not have a good poet. Leave aside Anand Bakshi and you have to search for another. Gulzar and Javed Akhtar are there. But what later on ?

Now about Rahman….. he is a good music director , but I about him I feel that he gives a lot of importance to orchestration. In the film industry itself the use of technology is increasing, but sill in Maharashtra at least, people are conscious about music. They are conscious of the songs, their lyrics, their tunes, how it has been sung etc. I do not know about outside. I do not know what happens in Punjab. Even in Bengal, musical films are over now. That musical era, when Suchitra Sen, Uttam Kumar, and Hemant Kumar were present , all that is over !!

Probably the reason may be a lack of thinking about the song, putting in hard work, etc, such a mentality is not seen now a days. Making a quickest possible, simple, and easy song is what is done. The result is that even though people can do good music, they do not get a chance. No one finds the necessity to give music which would leave an everlasting influence on the listeners. Due to all this nothing comes to my mind regarding the future of Indian film music, what may happen of it, I cannot think. If anyone can overcome this cruel trap, maybe then something good may happen. But I cannot say, when this may happen. But I have a firm belief. It is that , no conditions prevail the same way for a long time…..the earth is round. It would rotate and come back to its original position. I hold television also equally responsible for the state of today’s film music. Making songs for TV, dancing funnily wearing least possible clothes…. all this lead to the devaluation of songs and music. Put on any channel today. What do you see? Vulgar clothes, sometimes only banian, sometimes not even that. Hair spread out, such people only keep dancing. What is music, what is song, what do they know? Then if they like any western song, they copy it as it is. They should change at least a little ! no ! not even that. Then what should I do? What I do not like, I would not like doing it. Therefore I have gradually reducing my singing assignments. There are two reasons for this……. Firstly, I have been singing for the past 60 years. Now I feel bored and tired of again and again going for recordings. I also feel that I should not sing that which is not my choice. Once accepted, I should work on my assignment with full dedication, such is my mentality….. therefore it is better not to take on them. ……… just the other day I listened to Shubha Mudgal’s song from the movie ‘Aks’. The tune is an exact copy of R. D. Burman’s tune for the song ‘ Sharm aati hai, magar’ from the movie ‘Padosan’. I PITY SUCH MUSICIANS. They cannot imagine or create anything new. Or is it that they are made to do that? I cannot understand anything. But this should not be done. An individual should do something individually. If a music director wants to create his own name and maintain it, he should never copy.


Anandghan is a small corner in my long journey through the world of music……I never felt that I should compose music….. actually once Hrishida had asked me at the time of ‘Anand’. Once Shantaram bapu had also asked me regarding composing music. But everytime I denied the offer. I always felt that I should be away from composing, sitting there, seeing the lyrics etc. But once what happened, ……. Bhalji Pendharkar was making the film, ‘ Mohityanchi Manjula’. He asked a couple of music directors. But they were busy. And Bhalji was in a hurry. He called up and told me about his problem. He told me the name of a composer and asked me to talk to him regarding the new film. I told him that I doubted that person’s ability to give music to a historical movie. He asked me to suggest some other name. I immediately said that I would do the composing. He said that it would not be right. He felt that my name was very big, I was very famous and if the music of his historical movie did not click, the name of Lata Mangeshkar would be spoilt. He said that if the print media would speak ill of me, he would not like it.

As a solution to that I told him that I would compose music with a different name. He suggested the name ‘Jatashankar’. But I did not like it. Just then I had finished recording ‘Anandavan Bhuvani’ of Shri Ramdas. I used to like it a lot. So I suggested the name ‘ANANDAGHAN’. He agreed. And I accepted the movie. I sang out the tune of the song ‘Neelya aabhali, Katarveli’ to Bhalji Pendharkar on the telephone itself. He liked it a lot. But he said that in his movie there was not much importance to music. All his stress was on the story, the dialogues, and Shivaji Maharaj. I said okay, as you wish. He sent two songs. I gave them tunes. I do not compose tunes without lyrics. Around that time, I wanted the help of Hridaynath. But he was in Hyderabad and thus unavailable. I could not wait. So I called Datta Davjekar. I told him the tune. I also laid down a condition, that no body would come to knowtaht I had given the music to those songs. He agreed. He told everyone that there was a young man who had composed the music and that he could not come to the recording as he was working.

After the movie was done, C. Ramchandra, O.P. Nayyar etc had come to Kolhapur to attend my sister’s wedding ceremony. C. Ramchandra asked me, “Lata, tell me one thing, who is this musician ‘Anandaghan’?” I replied, “May be someone, I do not know.” He then said, “Do not speak a lie, okay.” I said, “Why don’t you ask Datta Davjekar. He would tell you” I tried to avoid. But he kept on asking me. He said , “On listening to those compositions, I feel that someone who understands music well has done that work. It is not possible for any common person.” I said, “May be the person understands music. May be Bhalji Pendharkar knows about him.” Saying this, I slipped away from there.

After ‘Mohityanchi manjula’, I gave music for ‘Maratha tituka melavava’, but still my name was a secret. But after the release of ‘Saadhi manasa’, this secret came out. That movie was awarded around 8 state government awards. Director, story, music etc. The song ‘Airanichya deva tula’ got the song award. I accepted it. Then the award for music was declared, but I kept sitting. But someone had told the announcers that I myself had given the music. And the announcer requested that I should accept the award, but still I kept sitting. Then they announced that Latabai should come on to the stage, and Anandaghan was none other than Lata. Then I went and received the award. ……. I gave music for Bhalji Pendharkar’s ‘Tambdi maati’. That was my last music direction. I never had the interest in giving music to songs, but still once I had thought that myself and Hridaynath should together give music together, similar to Shankar-Jaikishan, I thought we could give it as ‘Lata-Hridaynath’. But Hridaynath would not have liked it, so I just dropped the idea…. But I had felt that way.


Basically, I do not like this thing called remix. Probably you readers may not agree with my opinion; but I feel – once we have sung a song long ago…… probably technically it may not be of a high level, the reason being, the advancement in technology with time. But a song once done, if tried again does not turn out to be as good. When the song would have been made originally, the tunes would have been created according to the technology and instruments available during those days. That tune would suit those instruments and pace only. My songs undergo remixes. But I do not listen to them. Anuradha and Sadhana have done such songs. But what meaning does it have? These artists sang my songs. Done. Then what ? what about those artists? I have so may songs to my credit, out of which you sang about 50. But do you have 50 songs of your own? What about you?

Even Asha did ‘Rahul and I’ But she did it with her own songs. She had told me that instead of anyone else singing her songs, she did it herself. But I feel, why waste my time on singing songs already sung by me? Instead of my singing ‘Aayega aanewala’ or ‘ Aaja re pardesi’ with new orchestration, why should I not devote the same time to new songs? This would lead to addition of new songs to my credit. Even I did ‘Shraddhanjali’. I sang songs of old singers. But it was a Shraddhanjali. I had told it clearly at that time. Those singers were not among us. But what sense does this make, singing our songs when we are still alive? …… IF ANY ONE WANTS TO PROVE THAT SHE SINGS BETTER THAN LATA, THEN IT IS A TOTALLY DIFFERENT STORY !.

When Mukeshbhaiyya expired, we were abroad doing shows. We had to cancel two to three shows. When I later went to do the same, Mukesh’s son Nitin was with me. At that time, as a memory of Mukesh, I sang ‘Jane kahan gaye woh din’. Singing a song of a particular artist on the stage because you like him is a different matter from bringing out remix versions of his or her songs. Later they even bring out videos of those remixes. All this appears to be disgusting.

Now regarding stage shows. The experience of recording is entirely different from singing directly standing in front of the audience. We make many mistakes at that time, at times we cannot get the proper tune, at times the song turns out good. Much also depends on the audience opposite you. Sometimes the audience is very excited, always appreciating you. And at times, it becomes necessity to tell them to clap ! Abroad, the audience take the entire hall on their heads. But in India, this happens at times. Once I was performing a show in Sangli or Miraj. Amin sayani was with me. He had to ask the audience, “Kya aap taliyan bhi nahi bajate?” the reply from the people was, “ we were enjoying, so did not clap ! If you ask me, I am a lot very much scared while doing stage shows. I practice for months together. Only then I face the audience. Because I do not like the trend of recording the songs beforehand and just moving your lips in front of the audience. That should not be done. I had to do it once. I had to sing ‘Vande mataram’ in a show. It was not possible to do the song along with the chorus in just four days. I told them, “I have the song recorded. If you say, then play the record and place me far away. It was done. But when the song was going on, even I was holding the mike and singing. But one person caught the trick. At the end of the song, after the aalaap, ‘vande mataram’ is repeated 3-4 times. I moved away the mike by mistake at this moment. And one person asked, you had moved the mike away, then how come still the song was playing? I replied, “It happens like that!”. …. But that was the only incident.


Marathi bhavageet became very famous and ruled at a time. But today there is no one left who can do good Bhava geet in marathi. During our times, Sudheer Phadake, Vatave saheb were there. Manik varma, Malati Pande, Arun Date were also there. Then myself, Asha, and Hridaynath were also there. But today most of these do not do bhava geet. Sudheer Phadake’s son shridhar does bhava geet nowadays. Shrinivas Khale is not in good health. I myself did a lot of bhavageet where the music was by HridaynathHridaynath. I also did Jnaneshwari, BhagavadGeeta and Galib. But Hridaynath picked up good poets like B. R. Tambe and Aarti Prabhu. He composed music to their deeply meaningful poems. For example, songs like ‘Ghanamati shukra bagh rajya kari’ which had very good meaning, he composed music for such songs. Earlier we had enough time and such bhavageet used to be appreciated……. Even today they may be. In 1971-72 I had recorded Ganapati bhajans-aarti . Even today HMV takes out cassettes of this recording and every year 50 to 60 thousand cassettes are sold.

Marathi people appreciate music. They like good lyrics and good songs. Lavani is appreciated in some parts only. But other songs are liked everywhere. Bhavageet of Mangesh Padgaonkar, Suresh bhat are liked and drive people mad. Shantabai writes very well. Balakavi, Kusumagraj, Kavi B, and Indira Sant are some others who still have many poems which have not been sung. If anyone does this , people may still like them, appreciate them. When I listen to my own songs, I feel, “Oh god, how did I sing this” I start noticing my own mistakes. I feel that I should have sung it in a different way. But I do not listen to my own songs a lot. Nowadays I do not practice as before, riyaz is not possible as before. And not at all with the Tambora. I have recorded the tambora on cassettes. I put on the cassettes and sit for practicing. But mind it, every singer needs riyaz. If the throat does not get riyaz, it gets spoilt. But it is not right to give a lot of stress to the throat also. I do not feel like teaching something on my own to the new singers. Because I do not know to what extent they may like it. And seeing today’s music and trend, what I can teach them is a question !


We children carried the legacy of our baba through our songs. But what next? My chocolate voiced nephew and niece are today grown ups. They are even married. But I do not feel that the new generation has taken singing that seriously. Probably Hridaynath’s younger son Vaijnath and daughter Radha may continue. They are at present learning singing. The elder son Adinath sings well, but he is so engrossed in his other work that he does not get time to practice. Radha is in her college now. Vaijnath has completed his college just now. Hridaynath is teaching him music. He understands LAY and TAAL well and has apt knowledge of them. But still they have not decided about becoming playback singers.


Asha is a very excellent singer. When I listen to her songs, especially old ones, I feel that though the world thinks Lata Mangeshkar to be the best, but still the songs sung by Asha are such that I can never sing them. There are many of her songs which were possible because she sang them. Take for example her song from ‘Teesri manzil’ for helen and shammi kapoor, ‘O haseena julfowali’. If I would have sung it, I would not have sung it as she did. Even a song like ‘ Piya tu ab to aaja’ was to be sung only by her. She has her own style. Later on many tried to imitate her style. But they could not do it like her. Then came her ‘Rahul and I’. But among that, I liked her original songs itself. They were speedy and fast. But I liked her ‘Janam samjha karo’.

Usha has also been singing for the past 30 years. But I feel that everyone has neglected her. A lot of injustice has been done to her. Her movie ‘Pinjara’ was a super hit, and that was due to its music. All the songs she sang for Dada Kondke’s movies were a hit. She sang all the songs for ‘Jai santoshi maa’. But neither HMV nor the print media ever gave her due appreciation. Was she to face it because she was a Mangeshkar, or was it due to the fact that a small plant does not grow below a larger one……. I do not know. But injustice was done to her, this is what I feel for sure. Many girls who sang poorer than Usha became famous. People appreciated them and took them on their heads.

The same also happened with Hridaynath also. But he found a way out of it. He grew out to become Pandit Hridaynath Mangeshkar. But Usha could not do it. How famous was Usha’s song ‘Mungala mungala’, it is liked even today. But she never got enough credit for all that. On the occasion of her completing 25 years in the industry, no body thought of even taking her interview; because she herself never tries to be in the limelight….. probably her stars may be such. Therefore maybe she never got the due credit she deserved.


There are many new singers. But I do not remember anyone whose name I can take immediately. When we used to sing, everybody had his or her individuality in their voice. You could recognize the voice to be of Lata, asha, rafi, or mukesh. But today it is not the fact. Some one came to me after watching ‘Lagaan’. They said, “I could not make out anyone else’s voice. But I could recognize Ashabai’s voice, and then in the end you came”. This is common today. People cannot make out. Because, most of those who come try to copy. In the male singers there is only one singer Udit. His voice is his. As is Suresh wadkar’s voice his. Sometime ago I watched a movie. I felt the voice in a song to be that of Sanu. But I was told that it was not Sanu and that it was someone who sings like Sanu. I asked why he sang like Sanu and got an answer that he likes Sanu !!

I remember an incident narrated by S. D. Burman. Once a person came to him with his daughter for a trial of singing and told him, “Meri beti bilkul Lata jaisi gait hai”. Listening to this appreciation by the father, Burmanda asked him, “Aapki beti Lata ki tarah gati hai, to hamare paas original Lata hai !! Aapki beti hame kyon chahiye? Kuch doosra gaati hai to sunao !” And this is correct. Songs appear again and again on the TV. People watch them on the TV and do not buy the records. That has lead to drop in the business of these cassette companies. HMV brought out a cassette of my old songs. It had a song ‘Ghana othambuna yeti’ which I had recorded 25 years ago. HMV brought out a video for that song. And now I am told that the cassette is a hit and is been sold like hot cakes. Though originally the song was a flop but now it is a hit. I cannot understand any thing. Today all those singers who do not have a base of classical singing, should learn classical music. There is no loss in it. I was learning till about 8-10 years ago. Tulasidas Sharma used to come to teach Usha. Even I used to sit there with the tambora….. what kind of shame in learning something. You should learn anything and at any time.

Among the new singers Kavita Krishnamurthy and sadhana sargam have learnt classical. Padmaja Phenani is also a classical singer. She is still learning classical. No singer should ever feel that they are a very big artist. All this is false……


Translated By Sameer Desai (Member : Lata Mangeshkar Club )