Dr. Shruti Jauhari

A rare blend of Performing Artist, Voice Coach, Historian, Author & Guru on Hindustani Classical Music. Highly Creative and Melodious due to which the Khayaal Gayaki & Thumri comes to her naturally.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Hamare Baad ~ Lata Mangeshkar

7th February 2022

What classical musicians take 3 hours to do, Lata does in 3 mins


हमारे बाद अब महफ़िल में अफ़साने बयाँ होंगेबहारें हमको ढूँढेंगींना जाने हम कहाँ होंगे |

The word for Sur was ‘Saam’ in ancient India. In present times it is known as Swar - a melodic and soothing sound. If one wishes not only to listen & feel it but also see it (swar) in all it’s perfection, then it could be termed as ‘Lata’.

The legendary Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali after listening to Lata Ji had commented: ‘What we classical musicians take 3 1/2 hours to accomplish, Lata does in 3 minutes’.

Much of it came naturally to her as she carried genes of Natya Sangeet maestro Pandit Dina Nath Mangeshkar - the timbre of her voice - ability to render the most intricate Swar Sangati in a fraction of second with each note rendered to its perfection. Her first unreleased song was ‘Naachu Yaa Gade, Khelu Saari Mani Haus Bhaari' for a Marathi film Kiti Hasaal (1942), when she was merely thirteen years old. The most mystifying feature of her songs however is the perfect pitch rendition - a singer’s most precious vocal asset. This is something one is born with as it is extremely difficult to acquire.

Lata ji beautifully reinvented her singing style from the Classical system to obtain the best results ideally suited for Film Sangeet (Light Music).

Further enrichment and chiselling of Lata Ji’s renditions happened when she came in association with music directors like Anil Biswas, Naushad, C Ramachandran, Sajjad Hussain during the 40’s and 50’s. Every music director had their own rendition preferences and she went on to satisfy each of their highly specific demands and requirements in delivering those master-pieces. If it was andolit swar - demanded by Sajjad Hussian in ‘aye dilruba’ from the film Rustom Sohrab (1963) - she produced it like nobody else could. She had rendered it earlier very subtly in ‘Tera Jana’ for Shankar Jaikishan for the film Anaadi (1959).

Her classical training reflected prominently in her initial pieces like ‘Pa Lagun Kar Jori’ - the famous Pilu Thumri, revisited by Datta Davjekar for the film ‘Aapki Seva Mein’ (1946) when the legend was still in her teens. This classical prominence however became more nuanced (the Lata effect) in years to come when she rendered the same Raag Pilu in ‘Chandan Ka Palana’ (with blissful tranquility of a lullaby) along with Hemant Kumar for the film ‘Shabab’ (1954) and ‘Na Manu Na Manu’ (both compositions of Naushad) for the film Ganga Jamuna (1961) with breathtaking Taans (both - Arohi & Avrohi) to emphasise the chanchal aspects of Rag Pilu.

Music director Anil Biswas in his Ektaal composition ‘Rooth ke tum to chal diye’ for the film ‘Jalti Nishani’ (1957) made Lata Ji croon. He composed this masterpiece with pathos rendered through detailed note-patterns.

When it comes to intricate singing, one has to but remember the genius of both - music maestro C Ramachandra and Lata Ji, for gifting compositions like ‘Radha na Bole’ (Azaad,1955) in Rag Bageshri, ‘Balma Anaadi’ (Bahurani, 1963) in Rag Hemant; ‘Dheere se ajaa’ (Albela, 1951) Not to forget the jugalbandiof Meend based Bihag composition ‘Tere Sur Aur Mere Geet’ (Goonj Uthi Shehnai, 1959) by Vasant Desai. In this song, Lata Ji matched the flow of Shehnai played by none other than Ustad Bismillah Khan.

Madan Mohan was one who specifically composed tunes for Lata ji - one of the countless magic melodies created by the duo: ‘Pritam Daras Dikhao’ (Chacha Zindabad, 1959) - a piece in Raag Lalit, also accompanied by the great Manna Dey, is worth mentioning. The taans rendered in this Teental composition are extraordinary. Any attempt to sing this song seems futile.

Does anybody remember the ‘Ati Tarsaptak’ swars used in western style for the song ‘Woh ik nigah kya mili’ from the film Half Ticket (1962). No wonder the genius Salil Chaudhary mentioned that this composition was so difficult that only Lata ji could sing it to ‘perfection’.

Lata Ji was the favourite for Classical musicians like Pandit Ravishankar, Shiv-Hari (Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma & Hari Prasad Chaurasia). After all, 'Saanwre Saanwre' in Rag Bhairavi, 'Jaane Kaise Sapno Mein' in Rag Tilak Shyam, 'Hai Re Woh Din Kyun Na Aye' in Rag 'Jansammohani' for the film Anuradhaa (1960) - three different dimensions of musical expression composed by Pt. Ravishankar, could only be justified by Lata Ji.

Lata Ji's musical journey, spanning across generations, speaks highly of her disciplined and tireless singing ability, which could only be attained with her classical background.

Will Lota sing? Then I am safe’ - said the great S D Burman once. For only she could materialise his thoughts on ‘Tum na jaane’ (Sazaa, 1951), inspired by Rabindra Sangeet. When R D Burman composed the evergreen melody, moving in & out of Rag Todi - ‘Raina beeti jaaye’ (Amar Prem, 1972) , it could only be handled by Lata Ji. Every version of ‘Shyam na aye’ in this composition is a treat and Lata Ji seems to be tossing it effortlessly. 

And the story continues ...

Singing, and singing-effortlessly, are two entirely different exercises. Singing effortlessly to perfection is yet another level. This is what Lataji did to the classical style - she created her own three-minute masterpieces.

How else to end this swaranjali other than quoting maestro Ilaiyaraaja:

nothing will remain the same and anything can be replaced by something, but one thing that will remain in the world is Lataji’s divine voice”

                                                                                                     Dr. Shruti Jauhari.

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