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Another Bharat Ratna, another genre!
By T.M. Anantharaman
BANGALORE, May 7: Let me digress from Carnatic music to popular Bollywood music as epitomized by another Bharat Ratna, the Living Legend Lata Mangeshkar. Singers of Hindi film music are many but no one can measure up to the melody queen Lata Mangeshkar for her ability to create vivid imagery with her sweet voice and her clarity of diction. I had first heard Lata with that immortal song “Aayega aayega aanewala aayega” from the film Mahal, an astoundingly haunting melody. Having heard it once, you couldn’t restrain yourself from humming the melody even though you didn’t know the words.

Scaling creative heights
Over the years, I discovered the remarkable quality of Lata Mangeshkar’s songs… catchy tunes made `hummable’ because of her sweetly liquid gold voice with its rare finesse to reach creative heights impossible for others to emulate. One of my most memorable Lata numbers is the one from the film Deedar, which she has sung with Shamshad Begum, “O bachupanke din bula na dena, aaj hanse kal rula na dena”, set to lilting background of Naushad’s brand of “ghoda gaadi” sound effect. The words came out so fluently that you can’t but keep rhythm and hum along the ditty so meaningfull. Somewhere in the song it says “door deshme ek mahal banake pyaarke jisme deep jalakar” (let us build a palace in a distant land and light the lamp of love in that ...). The lyrics were from the inimitable Shakeel Badayuni. And, it was simply nostalgically beautiful.

Classical delight
I take immense classical delight in her “Rasika baluma haye,” and ``Man mohana ...” (in raga Dwijawanti). Other timeless memorable melodies are:
“Ye zindagi usiki hai” (Anarkali) `` kahi deep jale kahi dil” (Bees saal baad), “Aapki nazarone samja pyar ki kaabil” (Anpadh), “Raina beeti jaaye” (Amar Prem), “Laguja gale phir” (Woh Kaun Thi) and “Mohe bhoolu gaye saawariya..”and “bachupan ki mohabatko dil se juda na karna” (both jewels from Baiju Bawra). And, the all-time always popular “Pyar Kiya toh darna kya” from Mughal-E-Azam, lovely love tale, epitomized with my all-time favourite heroine Madhubala.

Spooky tale
I will always remember Lata Mangeshkar’s melodious film songs but one which I will cherish with everlasting pleasure is the haunting melody from the film Bees Saal Baad, which had a spooky tale and a strange haunting quality in the song “Kabi deep jale kabi dil”. But my fascination with the song surrounds another memorable event in my youthful crazy days. I was in my early twenties, and crazy enough to travel all the way to Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai to watch India-Pakistan test matches, in particular my favourites Sunil Gavaskar’s delectable leg glances and square cuts, and the fiery, scorching pace of Pakistani pace bowler Imran Khan. It was around 1970s that Bees Saal Baad was released and the song “Kabi deep jale kabi dil” became an instant hit with all lovers of Hindi film music. You could always hear this song over the radio every day or somebody singing it. But can you imagine 20,000 people joining together to sing the song with intermittent clapping of hands keeping rhythm as it were and yodelling “Oh..o..oh..o….oh…o..” before joining to sing the words “Kabi deep jale kabi dil”.

Cricket & music
I have experienced this unique mass hysteria of humming the Lata Mangeshkar song along whenever cricket in the centre of the pitch in the Brabourne Stadium became a boring and dragging game to watch. Someone in the crowd of 30,000 will start with a slow clapping of hands which will be picked up by rows and rows of cricket lovers watching the game and someone will soon start humming the beginning of the song “Oh...o...Oh...o...oh..o…” And, this too will be picked up by people round the stadium and soon there will be some 15,000 to 20,000 people joining in the fun of clapping and keeping rhythm and singing along the song “Kabi deep jalekabi dil”.

When the whole stadium was reverberating with this song, people joined in the fun of just letting themselves loose and crooning along the ditty. I have experienced this emotional catharsis for getting over the humdrum boring patch of test cricket and fully enjoyed being a privileged member of the clan of boisterous hysterical audience loving Lata Mangeshkar’s song. Truly incredible and memorable! Music director of Bees Saal Baad Hemant Kumar would never have imagined that his title song for the film would ever be so rapturously popular with the cricket and fun-loving public of Mumbai.

Devotional numbers
Lata Mangeshkar has also sung devotional numbers many of which are popular and remarkable for their purity and elegance and lilting evocative cadence and sweetness. My all- time favourite is, of course, the memorable music director Jayadev-tuned “Allah tero naam eeshwar tero naam” from the Dev Anand film Hum Dono. Every time you hear this number, you are in sublime bliss and you experience the wonderful power of good music. It makes you hum along in happiness and, at the same time, experience a yearning for utter devotion towards the Supreme and love for near and dear ones of the family. It makes you soar to experience pleasure and pain at the same time, an indescribable efflulgence grips you every time you reflect on the deep blissful philosophy embedded in the lyrics of the song. One line is particularly awesomely riveting for me. When Lata sings the phrase “ma behanoke laaj rakhuna” you are indeed moved to tears because suddenly you find that Lata’s music just is not only about catchy tunes but being meaningfully memorable. Thank you Lata Ji for this wonderful song which Jayadev composed and gave it to all lovers of music to love and cherish for eternity. Lata Ji you are truly immortal and I salute you for giving me and countless millions joy of unparalleled and unrivalled and unique MUSIC!

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