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Celebrating Lata Mangeshkar

Last updated on: September 11, 2009 

Celebrating Lata Mangeshkar

Lata Mangeshkar turns 80 on September 28.

rediff.com heralds this milestone event with a month-long celebration of memories and song.

Today: Composer Jatin salutes the incomparable Lataji.

Jatin, who with his brother Lalit, composed one of her memorable numbers in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, sings his favourite Lata Mangeshkar songs, including Tujhe Dekha Toh Yeh Jaana Sanam.

I met Lataji for the first time in the mid-1970s. I was seven or eight years old. My brother Lalit, sister Vijeta Pandit and I had gone to Laxmikant-Pyarelal's studio to sing a chorus with Lataji. I don't remember the film's name, but it was a children's song. I sang with Lataji for the first time.

I was a big fan of hers and always dreamt of making her sing for me some day. When we got Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, the producer asked us to approach Lataji to sing a song for the film.

I took my father Pandit Pratap Narayan to meet Lataji. He knew her; he had taught her brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar.

I explained to Lataji that a new boy would be acting in the film opposite Juhi Chawla. Lataji said she would sing the song, but wanted to listen to the tune. In the end, she did not sing the song as she was out of town during the recording. Alka Yagnik sang it instead.

Two years later, in 1994, when we were composing the score for Dev Anand's Gangster, Devsaab asked us which singer we wanted for the song, Maine Pyaar Kisi Se Kiya Kyun Kiya Mujhe Kya Pata, to be picturised on Mink. Lalit said Lataji.

Devsaab immediately called Lataji and asked her to sing for the film and she obliged. That was the first time we got Lataji to sing for us. We did another song with Lataji for Gangster, and later did Devsaab's Censor with her singing a song in it as well.

We got close to her only after Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. Lataji was completely involved in that project. She had also become familiar with our working style.

In an interview she did then, Lataji said 'Jatin-Lalit are this decade's intelligent composers'. That was the biggest honour we got from her. It has been our privilege to work with her.

There is a huge difference between Lataji's journey and ours. She has been working since the 1940s, and has worked with many composers. That's why we were nervous initially. How would we make her sing?

But by the time Dilwale... happened, we developed a good friendship with her. She would joke with us -- she has a great sense of humour. She's very mischievous, but her jokes are all clean ones.

Yashji (Chopra) would order food from Gaylords (a restaurant in south Mumbai). She would always ask us to eat with her, and want to order new dishes. She loves Chinese food. She was very caring.

Lataji would talk about her struggle in the industry. But I will not mention that now because this is her birthday and a happy time, not the time to discuss sad stories.

She would tell us how recording songs earlier used to take a lot of time, that it is faster now, but not easy for her. I think recording those days was tougher because they used to record the whole song at one go. Nowadays we record the song in parts, and then mix it.

Before singing a song, she always has Milan supari. She does not bite it, she just has the juice.

When we were recording Tujhe Dekha Toh Yeh Jaana Sanam from Diwale..., we were not getting the aalap right. It was getting late and Lataji was very tired.

She asked me to use one of the recordings she had done earlier in the evening. I requested her for one more recording. She was exhausted, but she agreed and gave her best shot.

Yashji and Pamji (Pamela Chopra, Yash Chopra's wife) and Sanjeev Kohli (the late composer Madan Mohan's son) were present. They were very happy.

When she finished, I touched her feet and apologised. She said nice work is only done through persistence. I think I pushed Lataji a lot that day.

As told to Patcy N


Image: Jatin