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The greatest songster of all times

The living Legend
Lataji's Personal Favourites

Lata Pendentants-A Collecter's item for Lata fans Bedard Tere Pyar Ko [PADMINI] (1948) More
Aayega Aanewala [MAHAL] (1949) More
Aaj Mere Naseeb Ne Mujhko [HULCHAL] (1951) More
Aa Ri Aa Nindiya Tu Aaja [DO BIGHA ZAMEEN] (1953) More
Phaili hui hai sapnon ki baahein [HOUSE NO. 44] (1955) More
Aaja Re Pardesi[MADHUMATI](1958) More
O Sajana Barkha Bahar [PARAKH] (1960) More
Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya [MUGHAL-E-AZAM] (1960) More
Kaise Din Beete [ANURADHA] (1960) More
Allah Tero Naam [HUM DONO](1961) More
Kahin Deep Jale Kahin Dil [BEES SAAL BAAD] (1962) More
Ae Dilruba [RUSTOM SOHRAB] (1963) More
Woh Chup Rahe To [JAHAN ARA] (1964) More
Naina Barse Rim Jhim[WOH KAUN THI](1964) More
Dil Ka Diya Jale [AKASHDEEP] (1965) More
Duniya Kare Sawal [BAHU BEGUM] (1967) More
Kya Janoon Sajan [BAHARON KE SAPNE] (1967) More
Dil-Vil Pyar-Vyar [SHAGIRD] (1967) More
Chalo Sajana [MERE HUMDUM MERE DOST] (1968) More
Bhai Batoor [PADOSAN] (1968) More
Aa jaane ja[INTEQUAM] (1969) More
Bindiya Chamkegi [DO RAASTE](1969) More
Chalte-Chalte [PAKEEZAH] (1972) More
Raaton Ke Saaye Ghane [ANNADATA] (1972) More
Bahon Mein Chale Aa [ANAMIKA] (1973) More
Chala Vahi Des (1974) More
Satyam Shivam Sundaram [SSS] (1978) More
Dard Ki Ragini [PYAAS] (1981) More
Dikhaye Diye Ki Bekhud [BAZAAR] (1981) More
Aye Dil-e-Nadaan [RAZIA SULTAN] (1983) More
Shri Ram Bhajan/Shyam Ghanashyam (1985) More
Dil Deewana[MAINE PYAR KIYA](1989) More
Sunio Ji Araj Mhari [LEKIN] (1990) More
Kuch Na Kaho [1942 A LOVE STORY] (1994) More
Diya Jale [DIL SE](1998) More

What does Lata have to say about these songs??

Lataji has lost count of the number of songs she has sung. Some of the more popular numbers don't find favour with her. But there are innumberable songs in her awesome repertoire which cannot be denied either on merit or success. Songs that contributed to shaping one of the greatest success stories of the 20th Century. Here's looking at some of Lataji's favourites and why she likes them so immensely.

Bedard Tere Pyar Ko (Padmini,1948; Ghulam Haider) - "In those days, we had to record every song twice. Once for the film and again for the disc. Ghulam Haider saab was the first major composer to give me a break. One night he summoned me. I went immediately with my sister. While Haider saab sat at the piano composing the song, my sister and I waited patiently throughout the night. The next morning at 7.00 he was ready with the tune for 'Bedard tere pyar ko'. Within a couple of hours I was ready for the take. A few days later I went back to the HMV studio to record the song. This time in an abridged version. Soon after Ghulam Haider saab migrated to Pakistan."

Aayega Aanewala (Mahal,1949; Khemchand Prakash) - This was the song that defined the beginning of the Mangeshkarian magic and transformed Madhubala into an instant living legend. Ironically, Madhubala didn't lip-sync it on screen at all ! It was played in the background. But what an impact it made ! With one song Lataji wiped away all the careers of existing female singers. Ashok Kumar who played the lead in Mahal still recalls how everyone in the room reacted when the then- unknown Lata was asked to sing. Even today mention of Aaayega aanewala lights up Lataji's eyes. "It's hundred percent my favourite. I had done a number of rehearsals for the song. Actually the composer Khemchand Prakash heard me singing for Anil Biswas. A number of tunes were readied for Aayega aanewala. I was given strict instructions about the importance of the song. The producer Ashok Kumar and the director Kamal Amrohi told me I had to sing as though the heroine was approaching from a distance. Since the studio was very large, I was placed in one corner of the room and told to gradually approach the microphone in the middle of the room while singing. There were no dubbing and editing devices in those days. We had to do it all in one go. I still remember we recorded the entire day."

Aaj Mere Naseeb Ne Mujhko (Hulchal,1951; Sajjad Hussain) - "Ah I really like this one. Sajjad Husain's tunes were always a challenge. I was always scared of singing his songs. He would come up really close to explain a song. That made me nervous. But he wasn't a terror. He was a perfectionist. He taught me how to sing an alaap in a subdued voice. Like me, he was from Indore and he always reminded me of this fact. Unfortunately Aaj mere naseeb wasn't recorded properly."

Aa Ri Aa Nindiya (Do Bigha Zameen,1953; Salil Chowdhary) - "I think this was Salilda's (Salil Chowdhary) first Hindi score. It was very difficult to sing this number. There was no breathing space between the lines. Salilda recorded two versions of the song, one with no orchestra. He wanted to create the feeling of solitude as Meena Kumari sat singing all by herself."
Lata with S.D.Burman

Phaili Hui Hai Sapno (House No. 44, 1955; Sachin Dev Burman) - "Sachinda had his own style of putting across a composition to the singer. He gave me the freedom to make suggestions. He had a deep knowledge of folk music. He used to be very particular about the song situation. Being a singer he could get exactly what he wanted from my voice. If he was pleased with my singing he offered a paan which I happily accepted. I love paan."

Aaja Re Pardesi (Madhumati, 1958; Salil Chowdhury) Salil Chowdhury is one of her absolute favourite composers. "I love all the songs of Madhumati," the Nightingale confesses excitedly, and blushingly remembers how happy everyone was on the day Aaja re pardesi was recorded. "Lyricist Shailendra gave me flowers. The director Bimal Roy came forward to congratulate me. The song was beautiful and it was such a big hit too." The song won Lataji her first Filmfare award.

O Sajna Barkha Bahaar (Parakh, 1960; Salil Chowdhary) - "I had recorded the original version of this song for Salilda in Bengali as a Dusshera Puja number. He often turned his Bengali compositions into Hindi numbers. Not just me, everyone thinks O Sajna to be among Salilda's best creations."

Lata with NaushadPyar Kiya To Darna Kya (Mughal-e-Azam, 1960; Naushad) - The image of Madhubala dancing in a thousand images reflected on the walls of the sheesh mahal set is as alive today as it was in the 60s. The lyric by Shakeel Badayuni has acquired the hue of an emblem accentuating rebellious love. It was composed by Naushad who suggested the key line Pyar kiya koi chori nahi ki to Badayuni. The line became the highlight of the song. Naushad feels Lataji gave her best to Mughal-e-Azam. Listen to Lataji sing Pyar kiya to darna kya and you'll know why the composing genius Sajjad Hussain once exclaimed, "Lata sings, the others weep before the microphone."

Kaise Din Beete (Anuradha,1960; Pandit Ravi Shankar) - "Hrishida's Anuradha was special. Pandit Ravi Shankar composed four lovely songs for me. This one is my favourite. To sing for Panditji was a big event for me. Woh itne bade artiste hain! I really respect him. When I rehearsed the song with him, I was apprehensive. But he patiently explained what he wanted. We recorded two songs of Anuradha in one day. After I saw the film I realized how well they had been composed."

Allah Tero Naam(Hum Dono, 1961; Jaidev) -When Dev Anand's Navketan banner decided to give this prestigious assignment to S.D. Burman's assistant Jaidev. It was on condition that Lataji sing for the film.The softie that she is Lataji immediately set aside her differences with Jaidev to sing one of the tallest devotional numbers ever. Classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj remembers waking up from sleep with tears streaming down his streaming down his cheeks after hearing the bhajan in Hum Dono. "Allah tero naam her very first song that we recorded for the film," Lataji recalls. "Like Shankar - Jaikishan, Jaidev's tunes were steeply scaled." Though she has sung at unbelievably high-pitch all her life Lataji detests singing at what's traditionally the male scale.
Lata with Hemant Kumar
Kahin Deep Jale Kahin Dil (Bees Saal Baad, 1962; Hemant Kumar) - Prior to this song, Lataji had fallen seriously ill. Doctors had predicted that she'd never be able to sing again. Being a born fighter, the Nightingale swore to bounce back. Her first recording after her illness was this high-pitched number of haunting Dimensions. Lataji was nervous and apprehensive. "Fortunately the recording went off very well. Hemant Kumar was of a very quiet temperament. He knew exactly what to compose for me." Interestingly Hemant Kumar recorded Lataji's voice during the rehearsal and okayed it as the final take, the Nightingale says she's glad she made a comeback after her illness with an intricate song like Kahin deep jale. She had a point to prove to her detractors who were waiting for her downfalls and she proved it. The song won her another Filmfare award.

Ae Dilruba (Rustom Sohrab, 1963; Sajjad Hussain) - "No list of my favourites can be complete without this song. Sajjad Husain saab insisted that I don't stress any sur in the composition. He wanted every note to be relaxed and unaccentuated. I agree when you say my voice sounds completely different in this song. As usual I was very scared during the recording. Like his songs, Sajjad saab was unique."

Woh Chup Rahen Toh (Jahan Ara, 1964; Madan Mohan) - "It was a classical tune. After the recording, I remember Madan bhaiyya came inside the recording room. He had tears in his eyes. When he was deeply moved, he used to address me as beta. Jahan Ara was Om Prakash's film. Om was my raakhi brother. He too was there during the recording. Actually every song by Madan bhaiyya is important. Kis ko rakhen kissko nahin... "

Lata with Madan Mohan

Naina Barse Rimjhim (Woh Kaun Thi, 1964; Madan Mohan) - Every song in Woh Kaun Thi is precious to Lataji's heart. But Naina barse was the all-time hit."This was the time when I had fallen ill. I couldn't be present for the recording. Madan bhaiyya recorded the tune in his own voice and sent it along to Simla for the shooting. I dubbed the number later. But during the shooting spectators were shocked to see the heroine Sadhana 'singing' in a male voice. Woh Kaun Thi was a very important film for Madan bhaiyya. I felt bad when he didn't get the Filmfare award for it. But he laughed away my sorrow saying, 'It's enough of a reward for me that you feel this way.' It's sad that people didn't recognize his talent during his lifetime. They realized his worth only after he died."

Dil Ka Diya Jalaa (Akash Deep, 1965; Chitragupta) - "A lovely song composed by a lovely person. Chitragupta was like a family member. We visited each other all the time. I would even drop in at his place for lunch if I was recording nearby. My sisters, Usha and Meena, Chitragupta saab, his assistant Dilip Dholakia, lyricist Prem Dhawan and I were all part of one group. We had great times together. Later we stopped meeting frequently. But he only had to pick up the phone and call me for a recording. I'll tell you a funny incident about Chitragupta saab. Once I noticed his chappals were broken. He said it was his lucky chappal. I turned around and quipped, 'Kyoon Chitragupta saab? Aapko apni chappal par itna vishwas hai, aur hamare gaane par nahin?' Everyone burst out laughing. For 'Dil ka diya' he wanted a very subdued sound. I sang it very softly.

Duniya Kare Sawaal (Bahu Begum 1967; Roshan) - "I simply adore this ghazal. The lyrics by Sahir saab were excellent. The tune by Roshan was as usual, impeccable. Roshan saab and I were friends. When he came to Mumbai in the 1940s, he stayed in a garage with his wife. Their first son, Rakesh was born in that garage. He had a vast knowledge of classical music and so did his wife. In fact Mrs Ira Roshan and I once sang a duet for Anilda (Anil Biswas). Two other songs composed by Roshan saab which I like very much are 'Rahen na rahen hum' from Mamata and 'Raat ki mehfil sooni sooni' from Noorjehan."

Kya Jaanoon Sajan (Baharon Ke Sapne, 1967; R.D Burman) - "The double-voiced effect was Pancham's idea. He recorded my voice with the musicians and then he projected the recording into my headphones and asked me to overlap it. But even without this experiment 'Kya jaanoon sajan' is a really haunting melody."

Dil-Vil Pyar-Vyar (Shagird, 1967; Laxmikant Pyarelal) - "Let me tell you a story about this song. Composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal would constantly throw ideas at each other. Once we were recording a song with Majrooh Sultanpuri saab when I told them about a person who always spoke in rhymes. He would say, "Main chai-wai laaon ... Khana-wana khayen." Laxmikant immediately suggested to Majrooh saab that we create a song on similar lines. That's how Dil-wil pyar-wyar was born. The exclamation 'Aiyya!' became a rage. "

Lata with Laxmikant & Subhash Ghai

Chalo Sajana Jahan Tak (Mere Humdam Mere Dost, 1968; Laxmikant Pyarelal) - "This one ranks as one of my absolute favourites. I remember when recording the song, Pyarelal, who seldom speaks, made some very useful suggestions on how I should render the lines. I listened to him. The recording was over in a jiffy. It may seem like a simple composition. But it's actually an intricate tune. It would have been ruined if I rendered it without grasping the nuances."

Bhai Battoor (Padosan, 1968; R.D Burman) - "Everyone prefers 'Sharm aatee hai magar'. But I like 'Bhai battoor' better. The tune was simple enough. But the alaaps that Pancham put in for me were challenging. I've sung many numbers like 'Sharm atee hai magar'. But Bhai battoor was unique. The recording continued for many hours. At the end of it, I was quite exhausted. "

Aa Jaan-e-Jaan (Inteqaam, 1969; Laxmikant-Pyarelal) - Cabaret songs used to be sister Asha Bhosle's domain. Until Aa-jaane-e-jaan. Tuned and styled specially to suit Lataji, Aa-jaan-e-jaan is today regarded as the best cabaret song in Hindi films Tell her this, and Lataji laughs. "I remember telling Laxmikant not to give me any cabaret songs to sing. He assured me I could swing it without a hitch. Aa jaan-e-jaan was tailored to suit my taste and style." The song cracked open the charts it's a favourite with Helen who danced to the opulently orchestrated numbers.

Bindiya Chamkegi (Do Raaste, 1969; Laxmikant-Pyarelal) - Filmmaker Raj Khosla was a man of many talents, Music to him was life, A born singer he could hum tunes for hours-together. Bindiya chamkegi was a Punjabi folk tune that Khosla had board his mother singing. He wanted it in his film. Not a hot favourite with the singer herself. Bindiya chamkegi brings the roof down at every live concert of Lataji. When spectators break into a jig in the aisles the decorous Nightingale baulks. But what to do. Its just one of those unavoidable things . Interestingly Lataji sang this Punjabi-folk hit long before it became fashionable to have such items in Hindi films.

Chalte-Chalte (Paakeezah, 1972; Ghulam Mohammed) - "To be honest I am not too fond of any of my songs in Paakeezah. But if you insist, I'd select Chalte chalte over and above Thare rahiyo and Inhi logon ne. The tempo created by Ghulam Mohamed saab in Chalte chalte was outstanding. My singing trails off and the sitar and tabla take over. I never recorded a song unless I felt my voice was up to the mark. There was a prevalent catchline about me in the music industry. Aati nahin gaati nahin (laughs). My logic was simple. If I cancelled a recording a hundred people suffered. But if I recorded without feeling up to the task, what would thousands of listeners say?"

Lata with Salil ChowdharyRaaton Ke Saaye Ghane (Annadata , 1972; Salil Chowdhury) - "Salilda was very fond of Western classical music. He would not only buy recordings of symphony music for himself, he also presented them to me. He would then explain the nuances of Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, etc. Those were really wonderful days!" (Lata prefers this classic beauty based on a Western symphony over her other raga-based classical numbers from the early 1970s like R.D.Burman's Raina beeti jaaye' and Beeti na beetayi raina.)

Bahon Mein Chale Aao (Anamika , 1973; R.D Burman) - "Han, woh gaana bahut achcha hai. The credit must go to R.D. Burman for explaining the entire situation in the film so carefully. He was confident I'd grasp the mood. After every recording Pancham would come and stand in front of me and exclaim, 'Fantastic! Kya gaaya aapne!' I must also give credit to Jaya Bhaduri and Sanjeev Kumar for acting so well in 'Bahon mein chale aao'. Since the song is shot in the dead of the night I had to sing in a hushed voice."

Chala Vahi Des (1974) Music Director: Hridayanath Mangeshkar) - "I love every single song in my brother Hridayanath Mangeshkar's bhajan albums. Meera bhajans have always been my favourite." (Lataji refused to sing Pandit Ravi Shankar's compositions in Gulzar's Meera, arguing she had already sung Meera bhajans for her brother). When I recorded Chala vahi des I was so ill I could barely stand on my feet. It's a project very close to my heart. During the recording, we maintained a spiritual atmosphere all around us. Around the time we recorded the Meera bhajans, neither my brother nor I recorded any film song. We had followed the same pattern when we recorded my brother's compositions of the Bhagavad Geeta earlier."

Lata with Raj Kapoor

Satyam Shivam Sundaram (Satyam Shivam Sundaram, 1978; Laxmikant Pyarelal) - "I like the songs in this film because they were written by Pandit Narendra Sharma. I was very close to him. The title song was okayed in one take. I also like 'Yashomati maiyya se bole Nandlala'. As an artiste I had a huge responsibility on me. I first had to sing the lyrics in a child's voice (for Padmini Kolhapure) and then as an adult (for Zeenat Aman)".

Dard Ki Ragini (Pyaas, 1981; Bappi Lahiri) - "Bappi Lahiri could compose lovely songs. Bappi's father had come to Mumbai to sing for a film called Badshah. But he couldn't make any headway. We would meet whenever I visited Calcutta. I once visited the Lahiris' home. Bappi was one year old then. His father clicked a photograph with Bappi on my lap. Bappi still has that photograph framed on the wall of his home. I sang his very first film song. He calls me Aunty."

Dikhayee Diye Yun (Bazaar, 1981; Khayyam) - "What a song! I love every word in it. The poet Mir Taqi Mir is among my personal favourites. I didn't see the film. I know the composer Khayyam saab for decades. I liked even his earlier songs in Footpath, etc. I think the first song I sang for him was 'Baharon mera jeevan bhi sawaron' in Aakhri Khat. He has indepth knowledge of poetry. His songs are composed in a specific style. But it's a very sweet style. He believes in going into the nuances of a composition. A perfectionist and a gentleman to boot."

Aye Dil-e-Nadaan (Razia Sultan, 1983; Khayyam) - "I like it so much because of the way director Kamal Amrohi saab explained the song situation. He made it come alive in front of my eyes. He said my Urdu was very chaste and clear. The day we recorded Ae dil-e-nadaan I felt very happy. The lovely lyrics were by Javed Akhtar's father Jan Nissar Akhtar. I've sung a number of his lyrics."

Shri Ram Bhajan & Shyam Ghanshyam Barso (1985) Music Director: Shrinivas Kale) - "These were the two solos I had in my album Ram Shyam Gun Gaan with Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. Composer Shrinivas Kale is very popular among Marathi music listeners. I had earlier sung for for him in Tukaram, which was a big hit. For this album I was a little scared to match my vocals with an eminent classical vocalist like Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. I agreed and even spoke to Pandit Narendra Sharma to write the lyrics. A year earlier I had done the historic Ram Ratan Dhan Payo. I understook this project because of Pandit Narendra Sharma who was a Ram Bhakt. My brother and sister Usha composed some of the tunes. We are all composers in our family."

Dil Deewana (Maine Pyar Kiya, 1989; Raam Laxman) - Who would believe that Lataji was ready to call it a day when she agreed to a sing this song for the little -known Raam Laxman? And who would believes that Raam Laxman had originally prepared the tune for a nondescript film called Agent Vinod for the Rajshris? "I was ill during the recording of the songs in Maine Pyar Kiya and Chandni. Chandni was specially painful for me. Though I was unwell, I recorded 5 songs for Maine Pyar Kiya in one day." she concedes softly. It boosted the career of Raam Laxman who had been struggling for more than a decade. It also turned around the slumping fortunes of the HMV music company which according to rumours was on the verge of closure. Finally Dil deewana helped Lataji to change her mind about quitting playback singing. There was hope for film music.

Suniyoji Araj Mhari (Lekin, 1990; Hridaynath Mangeshkar) - "Yara sili sili mein to chalne wali baat thi. But my favourite in Lekin was Suniyo ji. Dimple emoted so beautifully to the song! Gulzar saab who wrote the lyrics always says my brother Hridayanath is a perfectionist, 'Woh aapko nahin chodte hain.' I know for sure he'd never humour me by okaying an unsatisfactory take. He keeps recording until he gets what he wants. His argument is, 'We can leave it as it is. But tomorrow people are going to fault your rendition. I don't want that.' A lot of rival composers have harmed his career. I feel bad for him. He never wanted me to recommend him to filmmakers. It's a pity Lekin didn't run. I like the film. And I love the songs. Even the background music is tremendous."

Kuch Na Kaho (1942 A Love Story, 1994; R.D Burman) - "Let me tell you how I came to sing this song. Just before his death Pancham rang me up. He said there was a background song in 1942 which he wanted me to do. He also told me the rest of the songs were done by Kavita Krishnamurthy. I agreed to sing the song. Then he left for concerts abroad. Soon after he died. The film's producer and director came to me and said they still wanted me to sing 'Kuch na kaho', since they felt only I could convey the emotions. Later Kavita was told I snatched away her song. I've never done that. It hurt me that the one who spread this ugly rumour was a playback singer himself. But I must admit Kavita never said anything negative about me."

Lata with A.R.Rehman

Diya Jale (Dil Se, 1998; A.R.Rahman) - This is by far Lataji's most favourite number of the 90s. Mention Rahman and the experience of working with him in Chennai and she expresses the joy of a flower that has newly learnt to bloom. "A.R. Rahman's style is amazing," she enthuses. "No doubt his style is Indian. But there's heavy Arabic influence I don't think that man thinks of anything except his music." During recording she kept humming an alaap at the end to a herself. Rahman overheard her. "Keep doing it, I'll just continue to records," he urged the Nightingale. "At first I didn't think all that much of the tune," Lataji confesses. "But when I heard the recorded song I was floored. I got to sing an outstanding number after quite a while," she sighs

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