The Nightingale Lata Mangeshkar hates playing favourites. When I urge her to do so she reminds me that she never listens to her own songs. “I never do that because if I listen to my songs I will find a hundred things wrong with my singing. So I never return to them once I’ve recorded them I am finished with them. Even if I hear my voice on television I quickly drown it in noise on the outside.” I nonetheless coax her into naming 5 favourite songs to cheer up her fans during the quarantine. No sad songs. Only the happy ones.
1. Bahon mein chale aao (Anamika): “Among all the songs I sang for Pancham(R D Burman) this is my favourite. It is also a favourite of listeners. I’d give the credit for the song’s perfect romantic mood to Pancham and then to Jayaji(Bhaduri) for her expressions on screen. I was told it was a song between the hero and heroine when the whole world had gone to sleep. So it had to be sung in a soft voice, so that no one awakens. And Jayaji did so much justice to Majrooh Saab(Sultanpuri)’s words. Time stops still in this song.Mujhe is gaane ki khamoshi bahot pasand hai.”
2. Man mohana bade jhoothe (Seema): “I always enjoyed songs with a classical base in them. This tune composed by Shankar-Jaikishan gave me a lot of opportunity to sing in the classical style. I loved it. What transported the song to an outstanding level was the way Nutanji lip-synced the intricate tune on screen. You can see on the screen that she was actually singing the words and not just miming them.She was a singer herself. That helped.”
3. Sharaabi sharaabi mera naam ho gaya (Chandan Ka Palna): “Almost all the songs that I sang for Meena Kumariji were sad pensive and dark in mood. I like this song composed by Pancham for its playful mood. The heroine is supposed to be drunk in the song. So I had to slur over my words while keeping in tune. People think sad songs are a bigger challenge. That’s not true.”
4. Aa jaan-e-jaan(Inteqaam): “I was very apprehensive about singing a cabaret song, and that too for Helenji. As you know, most of Helanji’s songs were sung by my sister Asha. And they share a great personal rapport also. Not many people know that Helenji is also very fond of me, and I of her. So when composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal composed this cabaret number specially for me I took it up as a challenge. Luckily the song was a big hit. I think among my biggest hits.”
5. O sajna barka bahaar ayee (Parakh): “Though this is a song about missing one’s beloved it is a happy song. It combines the joy of rain with the excitement of waiting for love. It was always a challenge to sing for Salilda(Chowdhary). This was a very delicate composition, filled with tenderness, hope and happiness. How beautifully Sadhanaji put the song across on screen.”
Also Read:Lata Mangeshkar’s Biggest ‘Love’ Songs