'She was humility personified and often felt nervous about audience response before show'

She was humility personified and often felt nervous about audience response before show

KOLKATA: Recalling their fond memories with singing legend Lata Mangeshkar, Bengal's musical fraternity paid rich tributes to the Nightingale of India, who had collaborated with well-known Bengali composers and singers such as SD Burman, Hemanta Mukherjee and Salil Chowdhury, not only to produce memorable music in Hindi but also in Bengali, among other languages.

While some recalled the dedication to music which Mangeshkar always had, others recalled her humility when singing for Tollywood's movies and on stage in Bengal, despite being a towering personality in the sub-continent's musical world. Lataji's connection with Bengal dated back to 1956 and continued for four decades.

Composed by Hemanta Mukherjee in 1958, her song 'O Palash, O Shimul' became very popular. In 1959, she sang another superhit chartbuster 'Na Jeo Na' composed by Sunil Chowdhury.

Her song 'Ekbar biday de ma' from the Bengali movie Balak Subhaschandra was very popular. Also, another song ' Nijhum Sabdhyae klanto pakhira'—composed by Hemanta Mukherjee– brought her close to the heart of the Bengalis.

In 1966, Lataji sang a duet with Manna Dey, "Ke prathan kache esechi" and another song "Aj mon cheyeche ami hariye jabo" composed by Sudhin Dasgupta from Bengali film Sankhyabela.

A follower of Sri Ramakrisha and Swami Vivekananda— whose portraits had been put up in her rehearsal room—Lataji could read Bengali and her favourite novelist was Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay.

Antara Choudhury, daughter of renowned music director Salil Chowdhury, said: "My father had often said `Ma Saraswati' (Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of music and knowledge) lives through the voice of Lataji. Their association created milestones in Indian music." Musicians here said while Mangeshkar understood Bengali as she had many friends among Bengali music directors and singers, at times she had to be explained the finer nuances of the lyrics. "She picked up and rendered the nuances in a manner which truly none but a great singer like her could have ever done," said Antara.

Veteran classical vocalist Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty said Mangeshkar used to address him as `Dada' (elder brother), despite being many years her junior, "She once told me 'Haam ek Mamuli Kalakar hai' (I am just an ordinary singer) and I did not know what to say. Such was her modesty," Chakrabarty said. Popular singer Haimanti Shukla also said Mangeshkar did not have any airs and she was often nervous about audience response before any show.

"I remember having accompanied Lata `didi' (elder sister) to two musical soirees in Durgapur and Mednipur towns. She told me her voice was not in great shape and looked edgy, but once she took the stage the audience was spellbound, she was humility personified," the noted singer said. She added that Lata Mangeshkar used to keep honey and warm water mixtures in flasks with her and took regular care of her throat.

Singer Babul Supriyo said one of the defining moments of his life was when Mangeshkar wanted him to sing a Kishore Kumar number without any musical accompaniment.

Next Story
Share it