07 February,2022 07:49 AM IST | Mumbai | Sonia Lulla
My favourite Lata Mangeshkar story is one that traces back to 2010. I was working with [AR] Rahman sir, and he was, at that time, working on the concept of 3D mapping. He was singing Luka chuppi on stage, live, with Lataji appearing on screen. She had shot the portions and re-sung the song at home against a white background, and we replicated a gigantic 3D [model] of her in a white saree to appear as though she was standing there, on stage. The visual was so powerful that I still get goosebumps thinking about it. At the time, YouTube was still picking up, so you don*t find those visuals today. It appeared like she was singing to her own son, which was impactful because it aligned with the story. It was called Jai Ho Journey Home, and was about a little kid who travels and [navigates obstacles] to get to his family. There was a mother-son story in between with Rahman sir standing in one corner and Lataji*s figure appearing at the other end, to sing the song together.
It was the coming together of great talents. Lataji has been among the legend of legends, and Rahman sir has always been the person leading the youngsters into the future. That is the most amazing moment of Lataji that I recall.
As told to Sonia Lulla
The first song that I sang on stage was Ae mere watan ke logo, which was her song. I remember, I had once spoken to her, and she congratulated me because she had loved [my] rendition of Ek Onkar. I couldn*t believe the fact that she was complimenting me. One phone call from her encouraged me so much. She was an institute for any singer. If you want to become a singer, she is the granth.
As told to Sonia Lulla
An important memory for me is the last song we worked on, which is the recently released Hum Hindustani. One of the last songs that she worked on was [one that] I was part of too. I consider it my good fortune that I am among the few privileged ones to have been blessed by her in the [last few days] of her life. It was among the debut songs of Padmini Kolhapure*s label. She is someone who always wore a blissful smile; jaise unme Daivi shakti thi. Her love for India reflected in her work. Yesterday was Saraswati Puja, and today she has left us. What she has given to this industry in unmatched. Her work will always teach people to love music, and be patriotic. For as long as one wants to learn music, her songs will always be available. Her songs, along with the compositions of her brother, are pieces that any aspiring musician can turn to for education. People always say that they want to sing like her, but no one says that they want to inculcate her habits, or have the kind of integrity that she had. People say she sacrificed herself by not marrying anyone. But that*s not her biggest sacrifice. She spent her life motivating people. She was active on Twitter, and even till the end, kept tweeting about important matters, and did so with intention. She was keen to have the next generation learn from her.
As told to Sonia Lulla
The news of her demise has shaken me up. I have worked with Lataji extensively. Every song we did together, right from Oh oh janane jana, to Dekho zara dekho, people have liked our work. I don*t think there is any other musician in the world who had as diverse an experience as she did. I will remember her for her warmth and kindness. She has taught me a lot about the technique of playback singing. On days when I was unsure, she was a pillar of strength. Every word of praise from her is empowering for a singer who is starting off. [Interacting with her] is an experience that enriches you, and elevates your craft. This is a loss for the music community across the globe. She might not be around but what she leaves behind is a rich repertoire of songs.
As told to Mohar Basu
Did you know
>> In 1999, the legend served as a Member of Parliament from 1999 to 2005. She reportedly described it as an unhappy tenure.
>> Lata Mangeshkar composed music for some Marathi films under the pseudonym, Anandghan.
>> Earlier, the Filmfare Awards did not have a category for best playback singer. The category was introduced in 1958 after Lata Mangeshkar*s protest.
>> She holds the record for being the oldest national Film Award winner for best playback singer (female). At 61, she bagged the award - her third National Award - for Lekin (1990).
>> On January 27, 1963, Lata Mangeshkar sang Ae mere watan ke logon at Ram Lila Maidan in New Delhi, in the presence of India*s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Though nervous to perform on such short notice, she was told by Nehru that her rendition moved him to tears.