Civilization, including Lata Mangeshkar herself ,considers Aayega aanewala from the film Mahal to be a turningpoint in Lataji’s career.
1949 is regarded as Lata’s breakthrough year. She had chartbusters in the films Barsaat,Andaz, Badi Bahen, Bazaar, Lahore and Mahal to her credit that year and had literally wiped out all competition.
Lataji’s favourite song of the year from her ravishing repertoire was Khemchand Prakash’s chart-buster Aayega aanewala from Mahal.
In an exclusive conversation with me Lataji had exulted. “Finally, I was singing for Khemchand Prakash. The tune for Aayega aanewala had been chosen out of many that Khemchand Saab had composed, and we had several rehearsals. The producer of Mahal, leading man Ashok Kumar and its director Kamal Amrohi were present at the recording.I was told in detail about the significance of the song.The number had to sound as if it was closing in gradually from distance , as though someone was walking and singing. The recording was done in a huge studio. I was made to stand in a corner of the hall with the mike placed in the centre. I inched my way to the mike singing the famous prelude, Khamosh hai zamana … The recording went on all day until we had a perfect take.The idea of calling melodies like Aayega aanewala `haunting melodies’ was mine. I presented the concept on stage for the first time in 1962.”
Lataji recalled her relationship with Madhubala who ghost-voiced Aayega aanewala with much fondness. “During those days playback singers were called ‘ghost voices’ because we really were like ghosts,totally invisible to the public. Even my name was not printed on the records. It was the name of the character that the heroine played which was printed on the record. In the song Ayega aanewala for Mahal the name on the record was “Kamini” which was Madhubala’s name in the film.”
After Mahal, Madhubala and Lataji became friends and collaborators.
Recalled Lataji, “Madhubala stipulated in her contracts that she wanted only me to do her playback singing. This was after the success of Aayega aanewala in Mahal, though I had sung for her earlier….During those days we would meet socially quite often. That kind of camaraderie no longer exists. ..Madhubala mujhe bahut pyar se milti thi(Madhubala met me with a lot of affection).”
1949 was a decisive year for Lataji. “Every film I sang for was a superhit. There was no looking back after that…Later Madhubala fell ill. But she continued to work. In fact she performed to some of my best songs in Mughal-e-Azam while she was terribly ill. I didn’t meet her as often as I met Nargis.”
Kamal Amrohi’s son Tajdar Amrohi recalls how special the song and Lataji were to his father. “Aayega aanewala was a turning point in Lataji’s career. Prior to that she was the rising voice. After Aayega aanewala she wiped out all competition. During the recording of this historic song Baba(father Kamal Amrohi) was spellbound by Latajis’s voice. However he had some reservations which he frankly shared with Lataji. ‘Beta—that’s what he called Lataji—you’ve sung it beautifully. But there is one thing that you need to polish up.’ Lataji who called my father Baba said, ‘Boliye na, Baba’ My father told her very frankly that her Urdu needed brushing up.Lataji took it as a challenge . From that day to her last breath her pronunciation was flawless. She was my father’s chosen voice for the heroine in all his films. Look at the breathtaking songs she sang in my father’s films: Aayega aanewala(Mahal),Inhi logon ne, Thade rahiyo and Chalte chalte (Pakeezah), Apne aap raaton mein and Aap yun faaslon se guzrate rahen(Shankar Hussain), Ajeeb dastaan hai yeh(Dil Apne Aur Preet Parayi) ,Ae dil-e-nadaan(Razia Sultan)…Baba insisted no one but Lataji will sing for my Choti Ammi(Meena Kumari).”