Lata Mangeshkar- Published in the Kalnirnay International Edition

Lata Mangeshkar

Music and films,are two vital components of the Indian psyche.Show me an Indian who has remained untouched or unmoved by either one of these, and I will give you my fingers to count their numbers upon.Unlike films in most other parts of the world,music is very basic to the Indian film. It has in many cases,been the saving grace of mediocre or downright poor films, that would have otherwise bombed at the box office.

Initially, Indian films made use of singer actors as playback singing had yet to make an appearance. But in the early forties,playback singing came into vogue. For quite sometime however, the process of recording the singer and incorporating and weaving the song into the film was a very compolicated procedure what with acoustic and recording equipment being very basic. But, over the years with technological advances and state of art equipment playback singing has evolved into becoming an indispensable part of Indin films/And through this entire saga there have been two singers , ironically fromn the same family who have been there right from the beginning and brought prominence,importance and respectability to the art of playback singing. One is talking here about Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle,daughters of Dinanath Mangeshkar,one of the pioneers of Marathi theatre and Natya Sangeet.

Does one need an introduction To Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle? To many, these two are the names with which the day begins, as they reach out to the All India Radio,right from small hotels in the city and homes across towns,to the very remote Indian villages where power lines and dish antennas are still absent and where therefore the transistor is still the ultimate luxury. To some others they are the unobtrusive yet ubiquitouws presences of their growing years. How often has one found oneself humming a song that has been sung by either one of them?And to the younger and the uninitiated, They are singers who are singing for girls old enough to be their granddaughters.

Born to Dinanath and Shevanthi Mangeshkar,Lata and Asha came into professional singing only in order to bail out of crisis situations.Lata took to playback singing inb order to support hae family after her father’s demise while Asha stepped in to support herself and her three children after a disastrous marriage.Dinanath Mangeshkar hailing from the village Mangesh in Goa, was a tremendous musical force in his days. Endowed with great talent, a fine voice and an abiding passion for theatre Dinanath Mangeshkar gained fame all over Maharashtra first with The Kirloskar Natak Mandali and lateron with his own Balwant Sangeet Mandali.Married to the daughter of a Gujarati businessman, Dinanath Mangeshkar soon had a family of four daughters and one son

LataMangeshkar. Was born on the 28th of September 1929. Very soon after her birth, Dinanath Mangeshkar perceived a divine musical gift in this first born. It is said that Lata could repeat flawlessly any classical raga at the age of five or six,something that was essentially picked up by her when she was playing near where her father conducted his music class.Dinanath Mangeshkar took it upon himself to train and nuture this talent.While the actor Dinanath would go to bed at 3 a.m , the singer Dinanath would be up q 5 a.m ,to train his daughter in the myriad nuances of classical music.. This training was however to be shortlived. , After scaling unprecedented heights of fame and material prosperity, Dinanath Mangeshkar succumbed to the lure of alcohol and died in penury,in 1942. leaving behind a wife and five children, the youngest of whom was a five year old son afflicted with TB.

The responsibility of ensuring their survival fell on the frail shoulders of Lata who was all of thirteen years. Within ten days of her afther’s demise, Lata donned the grease paint and faced the camera for a cameo role in Master Vinayak’s film, Pahili Mangalagaur. Lata was awkward and uncomfortable before the camera. Singing was her forte and that too classical music. But Lata had to take on numerous roles to keep the hoefires burning. She did give playback for a few Marathi films but had to wait till 1947 till she got a brek in Hindi playback singing. And it was only in 1950 that Lata finally arrived in full glory with the evergreen haunting melody,Aayega Aanewala with music director Khemchand Prakash from the film Mahal. How ironical once again that the record label of the song reads.’ Song sung by Kamini’ which is the name of the heroine in the film on whom the song is picturised,

Aznd thus began the ascent of Lata Mangeshkar who has since then sung for six generations of music directors over five and a HALF DECADES IN NO LESS THAN FOURTEEN LANGUAGE. A chronology of her work would fill a tome and no matter how exhaustive , it would hardly do justice to a person to whom music is a faith and , a worship to Goddess Saraswathi. Which is why, Lata Mangeshkar is always barefoot whenever she sings,either on stage or in the recording studio.She also does not record a song on Amavasya or New moon day. Dressed simply always in a white saree, only the border of which differs each day,here is an artiste who does ger riyaaz each day as if she were a beginner. Yet she retains an almost childlike love and zest for some of the finer pleasures of life,be it collecting perfumes or rustling up a meal for the nieces and nephews. Here is an amateur photographer with an almost professionbal knowledge of photography. Globe trotting for good part of the year, here is a simple lady who keeps in touch with the family she has raised to self sufficiency,no matter which corner of the world she is in. IT is not unusual to find her having stepped across next door to her equally illustrious sister, Asha Bhonsle for a tete a tete.

Asha Bhonsle at 68, is dubbed as the ‘Grandma Madonna from India’. Born on the 8th of September 1933, Asha Bhonsle settles for a life of domesticity,rather early in life. Unfortunately, domestic bliss eluded her and after a few traumatic years, Asha came out of the marriage with three small children to support. Music was in her genes, it was the only thing she was exposed to, the only thing she was ever trained in. Moreover with a sister already iun the trade, joining her seemed to be the logical cosequence. Asha’s first ever song was recorded as aearly as 1943, but it was only with OP Nayyar’s pu;lsating score for the film Naya Daur that Asha came into her own. Initially, it was said that she imitated the sensuous Geeta Dutt.. But gradually, with faith imposed in her by music directors like S.D. Burman, OP Nayyar, Khayyam and other, Asha Bhonsle carved out a unique style of singing. Sometimes teasing, sometimes naughty, sometimes seductive and sometimes sedate, here was a singer who could only be called versatile. While Lata Mangeshkar has stuck to a certain genre of songs(avoiding those that carry seductive or other baser overtones), Asha has pulled out all the stops. She has experimented with music, she has been contemporary without defying or defiling tradition. In fact It was her that the sitar maestro Al Akbar Khan selected to impart those rare compositions of his father and grandfather which were hitherto known only to him. And yet she has always been in tune with the etimes, pun not intended. When pop, rock and jazz came to India she did not shy away from them, in fact she harnessed them and rode them well opening her second innings with the youthful AR Rehman. She has sung with a variety of Western musicians and given them a run for their money. And she crowned it all by walking away with the Channel V award for her album Janam Samjha Karo. What more proof is needed than this to establish Asha Bhonsle ‘s versatility. Whetehr it is Bally Sagoo or Ar Rehman, Lezz Louise or Vishal Bharadwaj, she is right there here and now.

And so the two sisters have ruled the roost rfor the last five and a half decaded. Many awards have come their way

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