Birthday Love: 90 glorious years of Lata Mangeshkar


Considered a goddess of music with her melodious voice, the Indian film industry wouldn’t be what it is without her contribution. Many generations have grown up listening to this legend where they have experienced many things through her songs. This melody queen is none other than Lata Mangeshkar who has wowed us time and time again with the magic of her voice. Though she is known to sing sweet songs about love, there are many hidden gems sung by this artist that many would be surprised to learn were sung by her. In fact there are a vast number of songs sung by this legend that were very different to what one would usually expect of her.

One such example is ‘Tu Kya Jane O Bewafa’ from ‘Haath Ki Safai’ (1974) which had Hema Malini’s character telling Raju (Randhir Kapoor) about his betrayal to her and how he had hurt her. If one was to talk about the topic of unfaithfulness then there have been countless songs made around this. However with the upbeat western tune and the vocals of Mangeshkar this is a combination not many would have thought to put together.

Another song on this topic sung by Mangeshkar was ‘Ek Bewafa Se Pyar Kiya’ from the 1951 black and white film ‘Awaara’ that starred Raj Kapoor and Nargis. Set at a lavish party Nargis’s character is heart broken when she learns the truth regarding Kapoor. The lyrics explain every feeling that she is experiencing with music that bounces from a traditional Indian beat to jazzy sounds. Mangeshkar brought out the pain in her voice bringing justice to the lyrics.

When it comes to the tale of enemies what greater story than the one of a snake and the snake charmer. Though one automatically envisions the actress Sridevi dressed in white and those bright blue eyes it is the vocals of Mangeshkar that makes ‘Main Teri Dushman’ give the song the meaning it does. The sounds of the tabla, the sitar and of course the been adds to the tension of the animosity between the two characters in the 1986 film ‘Nagina’. Mangeshkar should be praised for how effortlessly she sang the song especially as the lyrics explain how both the snake and the snake charmer have been enemies for centuries.

Time and time again audiences have seen both films and songs regarding rebels in love. One of the most iconic songs about love is ‘Pyar Kiya Toh Darna Kya’ from one of Bollywood’s greatest love stories ‘Mughal-E-Azam’. This1960’s film had the ever beautiful Madhubala as the doomed lover Anarkali who is performing before her love Salim (Dilip Kumar) and his royal family. The song was perfection from start to finish from the way it was filmed, the performances by all actors involved and Mangeshkar’s evergreen vocals. Listening to Mangeshkar one is able to transport back in time to that time period where they can experience the feelings of Anarkali who was proud to have fallen in love and she wasn’t afraid of the consequences.

Another iconic song is ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ from ‘Sholay’ (1975). It was famous for the scene where Basanti (Hema Malini) is made to dance in order to save Veeru’s (Dharmendra) life, some may not know that this song was actually sung by Mangeshkar. The strumming of the guitar reminds one of a western film and with Mangeshkar’s warm voice the two combined together make an interestingly wonderful combination. The struggle of Basanti can be sensed in Mangeshkar’s vocals, the pain she is feeling as well as her anger it is no wonder this song is so iconic even today.

A new years party is taking place where a young man is attending with his parents unaware that his future has been planned without his consent. It was a party number that saw Aruna Irani’s character secretly helping Raju (Rishi Kapoor) to escape his unfortunate situation in ‘Bobby’ (1973). Mangeshkar sang ‘Ae Phasa’ in such a playful manner that it is hard for anyone not to hum along to the song. With her playful laughter and her high to low notes she made this song so fun. Irani performed superbly along to Mangeshkar’s vocals making it all the more entertaining with her delightful expressions.

Envision a woman freed from all boundaries as she explores the world without a care for anyone. Sound familiar? It is indeed Waheeda Rehman who played the role of Rosie a dancer who had been restricted by her husband to do all the things she loved. However when Raju (Dev Anand) comes into her life she finds the confidence to go out and do what makes her happy. ‘Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna hai’ is that moment of happiness Rosie feels which Mangeshkar expressed so clearly in the 1965 film ‘Guide’. When listening to this song one does feel a sense of happiness and freedom, it is a feel good song which Mangeshkar made a joy to listen to.

Call it an item number or a cabaret number usually Mangeshkar is not one to be associated with such songs unlike sister Asha Bhosle. However in the 1969 film ‘Tumse Achha Kaun Hai’ Aruna Irani is seen tapping away to the vocals of Mangeshkar in a club. ‘Mujhe Kuch Hota Hai’ worked wonders on the sounds on Mangeshkar especially with her ability to sing from a low note which is almost like a whisper and then transcend into a higher note. Picturised also on Shammi Kapoor, Babita Kapoor and Pran the song is indeed one of a kind by Mangeshkar.

The same year in the film ‘Inteqam’ Helen was seen performing on the song ‘Aa Jane Jaan’ in the voice of Mangeshkar. The song had western sounds with the use of drums, guitars and various wind instruments. Mangeshkar’s vocals suited Helen very much with Helen’s expression matching the vocals perfectly. Many would have been surprised to learn that Mangeshkar had sung for Helen as it was the combination of Asha Bhosle and Helen that was big at the time. However we thank those that thought of Mangeshkar for this cabaret number because it is a delight to see both artists collaborate.

Lata Mangeshkar is a name known to the world and rightly so as such talent isn’t seen everyday. The team at wishes this musical legend a very happy 90th birthday.

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