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The queen I loved: Abhay's tribute to Begum Akhtar

'As we enter the '80s, Rafi passes away. Kishore is the only male singer left from the golden era still actively singing. Lata continues to produce chartbusters...'

'In what is arguably Lata's last hurrah, she triumphs with some magnificent numbers. Though the music by Hridaynath did well, the movie was a flop'


Trailing the nightingale

How well do you know your Lata Mangeshkar? Arun Iyengar tests your knowledge of India's most famous playback singer

The clues

bolii muskaatii maiyaa sun mere pyaare \-2
gorii gorii raadhikaa ke nain kajaraare
kaale naino.n vaalii ne ho o o o o
kaale naino.n vaalii ne aisaa jaaduu Daalaa
isii li_e kaalaa

The year is 1978. Despite her declining vocals, Lata's songs from this movie are immensely popular and so are her songs from other movies of the late 70s like Main tulsi teri aangan ki, Ghar, Sargam, Mr. Natwarlal, Muqaddar ka sikandar, Trishul, Noorie etc. But there is an occasional big dip in her vocals in movies like Golmaal.

Though this Raj Kapoor directed movie didn't do well in the box office, its music was a big success. Ever since the fifties, Raj Kapoor is supposed to have nurtured a dream of directing a movie of an ugly girl blessed with a divine voice whose soul cries out for recognition by an indifferent world. He is supposed to have narrated the story to Lata and made a daring proposal to her saying that he would make this film if she not only sang but also starred in the film. Lata apparently did not respond to the idea kindly. It is said that Madan Mohan and Hridayanath Mangeshkar were contenders for the music direction of this movie before it fell into the laps of Laxmikant-Pyarelal, who went on to win the filmfare award for the movie. The last recorded song by Mukesh before his fateful US trip was also from this movie.

This song has tandem versions picturized on the heroine when she was a child and as a grown up. The child artiste happens to be Lata's paternal aunt's grand daughter in real life. Manna De sings the first two lines of the child's version. It is rumored that Raj Kapoor himself suggested the tune for this song.

tuu badan hai mai.n huu.N chhaayaa, tuu na ho to mai.n kahaa.N huu.N
mujhe pyaar karane vaale, tuu jahaa.N hai mai.n vahaa.N huu.N
hame.n milanaa hii thaa, hamadam, kisii raah bhii nikalate \-2

As we enter the 80s, Rafi passes away. Kishore is the only male singer left from the golden era still actively singing. Lata continues to produce chartbusters in movies like the one above, Ek duje ke liye, Aasha, Love story, Kaamchor, Bazaar, Betaab, Hero, Prem rog, Agar tum na hote, Souten etc. While these movies did have some decent numbers from Lata, she did fare below par on some others.
About the movie, it is one of the many triangle love stories by Yash Chopra. It generated enough heat in the gossip columns with the main protagonists seemingly playing their real life roles in reel life. The film bombed in the box office nevertheless.

The song in question has dialogues by the deep sonorous voice of one of the superstars of Indian Cinema. When the song was recorded, he was not present and Lata recorded her lines solo and his dialogues were added later.

kyaa qayaamat hai, kyaa musiibat hai,
kah nahii.n sakate, kisakaa aramaa.N hai
zindagii jaise, kho_ii kho_ii hai, hairaa.N hairaa.N hai
ye zamii.n chup hai, aasamaa.N chup hai
phir ye dha.Dakan sii, chaar suu kyaa hai

What a mesmerizing masterpiece! Undoubtedly one of the best songs of the 80s, Khaiyyam spins his magic over you in what is IMO one of his best compositions. The sheer beauty of the lilting music matches with the evocative lyrics combined with Lata's soulful rendition all make this song an oasis in the 80s' desert.

IMO Khaiyyam was one of two music directors (Hridayanath being the other one) who used Lata's voice well during her declining years. She consistently sounds better in his songs than her other songs from the same era.

kishor: jaage nazaare, jaagii.n havaa_e.N \-2
jab pyaar jaagaa, jaagii.n fizaa_e.N
lataa: ho pal bhar ko dil kii duniyaa so_ii nahii.n hai

We are in the mid 80s now and Lata continues to churn hits with Pyar jhukta nahin, Ram teri Ganga maili, Alag alag, Sanjog, Nagina etc. But her decline is more pronounced now in movies like Nache Mayuri, pyar kiya hain pyar karenge, Aapke saath, Sindoor etc.

R D Burman performs a decent job in this triangle love story. This mid 80s movie heralded the comeback of Dimple Kapadia and has a few hummable songs.

This song has a sad solo tandem by Lata. The similarity of the tune of this song with two other Lata solos "rahe.n naa rahe.n ham" and "ThaNDii havaae.n" has been often discussed on RMIM.

lataa: a.Nkhiyo.n me.n tuu bas jaa a.Nkhiyaa.N mai.n ba.nd kar luu.N (2)
gaayak: pahale in a.Nkhiyo.n se baate.n mai.n cha.nd kar luu.N

Lata went into semi-retirement in the mid 80s. Fortunately or unfortunately she made a comeback in 1989 with two big musical hits; Maine pyar kiya and this one. The song dil diivaana from Maine pyar kiya was No.1 on most hit parades for many weeks. It also features in her all-time top ten list of songs. Though purists might wonder what criteria Lata uses to select her best songs, it sure was one of the biggest hits of Lata's career. But her litany of poor performances continued with Clerk, Ganga Jamuna Saraswati, Police public, Waaris, Awaargi, Kab tak chup rahoongi, Hatya and many more. In the meanwhile, she was awarded the Padma Vibhushan as well as the Dada Saheb Phalke awards.

This duet with the singer who is best known for being a Mukesh clone has a pleasant tune though Lata is clearly not at her best. The song is shot in picturesque Switzerland.

chaa.Ndanii hai raat ab to aajaa piyaa

In what is arguably Lata's last hurrah, she triumphs with some magnificent numbers. She got her last national award for her singing in this movie which she also produced. Though music by Hridayanath did well, the movie was a flop.

This song was recorded many years earlier (you can clearly make out from her voice) for a movie that never got made. There is a solo tandem version of this song also sung by her that was recorded later "BUT" is less pleasing.

(man puuchh rahaa hai ab mujh se
naino.n ne kahaa hai kyaa tujh se) \-2
jab nain mile naino.n ne kahaa \-2
ab nain base the naino.n me.n

An album was released in 1992 to commemorate 50 years of Lata's singing in the film industry. She paid rich tributes to various singers some of whom were her co-singers for decades. Lata does a decent job on some of the songs. The album became immensely popular which prompted a sequel two years later in which she paid tribute to more singers.

This song has two legends (singer and MD) coming together in the 40s to create a "magical" composition.

jis tan ko chhu_aa tuune us tan ko chhupaa_uu.N
jis man ko lage nainaa, vo kisako dikhaa_uu.N
o more chandramaa, terii chaa.Ndanii jalaae
terii uu.Nchii aTaarii, mai.nne pa.Nkh li_e kaTavaae

By early 90s, Lata was sliding down fast and good renditions were hard to find. But hits still followed her in Pathhar ke phool, 1942 A Love Story, Lamhe, Darr, 100 days, Sanam Bewafa, Chand ka tukda etc. Meanwhile, Maharashtra government constituted an award in her name following the lead of the Madhya Pradesh government which had earlier announced a similar award in her name in the mid 80s.

This movie had some nice songs but all the 8 of them were solos. While Lata and Asha sang the female solos, the male solos were rendered by an Assamese Dada Saheb Phalke winner who is also the MD for the movie. This is the only movie that I am aware of which has three solo tandem versions of a song.

The above song is not only a gem but also scaled the popularity charts to the number one position; a rare occurrence of public opinion matching with that of the critics'. It also has a male tandem version.

paanii paanii in pahaa.Do.n kii Dhalaano.n se utar jaanaa
dhuaa.N dhuaa.N kuchh vaadiyaa.N bhii aaye.ngii guzar jaanaa
ik gaa.Nv aayegaa meraa ghar aayegaa
jaa mere ghar jaa

By the mid to late 90s Lata's hits just seem to explode. She had songs scale to the number one positions at amazing regularity from movies like Hum aapke hai kaun, Dilwale dulhaniya le jayenge, Dil to paagal hai, Yeh dillagi, Dil Se, Kachhe Daage, Hu tu tu and this one. Many of the eminently forgettable songs and some atrocious singing by Lata somehow seemed to catch the public imagination and were chartbusters for reasons hard to explain. Awards also continued to pour in; filmfare lifetime achievement award, MTV viewer's choice award, Lux Zee cine award etc.

But this movie did have some nice songs by Lata and some refreshing music by a budding young music director.

lataa: ham se na dekhaa jaaye barabaadiyo.n kaa samaa.N
uja.Dii huii bastii me.n ye ta.Dap rahe i.nsaa.N
koras: ham se na dekhaa jaaye barabaadiyo.n kaa samaa.N
uja.Dii huii bastii me.n ye ta.Dap rahe i.nsaa.N
lataa: nanhe jismo.n ke Tuka.De liye kha.Dii ek maa
baaruud ke dhue.N me.n tuu hii bol jaaye kahaa.N

As we enter the new millennium, there is no sign of retirement yet for Lata and she continues to sing though a little less frequently these days. Her songs from Mohobatein, Kabhi Khushi kabhi gham, Lagaan, One two ka four etc are popular. She was awarded the Bharat Ratna.

This song was originally composed in 1996 for the "Aid Bosnia Concert" in Malaysia. It is a simple composition by a music director who charted a new course in Indian film music with his unique orchestration. In the movie, this song is picturized on Lata herself after a gap of about half a century. Lata carries this song reasonably well.

----------------------------------------------------------------------- Fan's Section

lataa: ye dil kuchh aise aap ke sajade me.n jhuk gayaa
kishor: nazare.n uThaa_ii.n aap ne to vaqt ruk gayaa
lataa: Thahare hue palo.n me.n \-2
zamaane bitaaye hai.n

Nice melody from one of the great music directors of Hindi film music. This movie has another equally pleasing Lata-Kishore duet. A "little cheating" is allowed here!

(lataa: baat kahate bane kyaa aadhii raat ko
aashaa: aa.Nkh kholegii baat aadhii raat ko) \-2

One of the best Lata-Asha duets ever IMO. The song has already been given away.

mai.n ek zarra bulandii ko chhuune nikalaa thaa \-3
havaa ne tham ke zamii.n par giraa diyaa mujhako

In the late 80s, Lata teamed up with a famous Ghazal singer for a Ghazal album. It had some nice songs in it and Lata did a creditable job in some of the songs.

gaayak: ye ratajage lambii raato.n ke dil na lage kyaa karuu.N
lataa: ye silsile dil kii baato.n ke jaaduu jale kyaa karuu.N
bikharaa zulfe.n so jaauu.N dil chaahe kahii.n kho jaauu.N

A nice 90s duet by one of the newer music duos. A younger Lata would have cast her spell on this song. The male singer started off as a Kishore clone and is one of the top singers today but has been often castigated on RMIM.

Kvaab kaa haqiiqat me.n nazar aayaa hai
dil me.n dha.Dakan kii tarah koii utar aayaa hai
aaj har saa.Ns me.n shahanaa_ii sii laharaa_ii hai

Nice song by the most popular woman MD in Hindi films who is no "stranger" to music direction.

aaTh ka.Nval dal charakaa Dole \-3

This Sant Kabeer's song is from Lata's latest bhajan album. Need I say more?

saahil kii ret par yuu.N laharaa uThaa ye dil

A remake of a Telugu movie by a respected Tamil director, this movie also served as launching pad for two southies; the hero and the male playback singer. The lyricist who recently passed away, won the filmfare award for best lyrics for another song in the movie but lamented that he should have won the award for the above song. This song starts off with a couple of lines from a singer best known for his Bhajans.

(saa.Nso.n me.n tum aate jaate
ek tumhii.n se hai.n sab naate) \-2

One of Lata's better songs of the 80s. Hridaynath is supposed to have insisted on recording this song many times to make sure Lata got it right.

piilii mu.Ndarii a.Nguurii shaam \-2
mu.Ndarii par raadhaa kaa naam \-2
aakar dekhe sune madhur swar \-2

Lata teamed up with a Hindustani classical legend of Kirana Gharana in this Bhajan album. It has some nice songs in it and Lata comes across reasonably well here.

gaayak: pataa chal gayaa hai ki ma.nzil kahaa.N hai
chalo dil ke lambe safar pe chale.nge
lataa: safar Katm kar de.nge ham to vahii.n par
jahaa.N tak tumhaare qadam le chale.nge

A nice duet with one of the greats of Hindi film music who is clearly below par in this song. The MD happens to be the son of a legendary MD from the golden era. His brother is a former actor and successful director and his nephew, an actor, is a current raging sensation.

-------------------------------------------------------------------- Fanatic's section

mor pa.Nkh kii kiraN jagaa kar jagaa kar
mor pa.Nkh kii kiraN jagaa kar
adharo.n par muskaan ugaa kar \-2
har le man kii piir apaar
sa re sa ga sa pa sa dha sa sa dha pa ga re sa dha sa
har le man kii piir apaar

This duet with a Hindustani classical maestro was from a movie that was a remake of an immensely popular Telugu movie. Vani Jairam won the national award for the Telugu equivalent of this song.

Identify the raga of the song.

lataa: pahalii mulaaqaat me.n mai.n to terii ho ga_ii
tere hii Kayaalo.n me.n saathiyaa mai.n kho ga_ii
gaayak: chaahataa huu.N aaj mai.n saare bhed khol duu.N
ab talak na jo kahaa aaj tujhase bol duu.N

This duet with the son of an accomplished singer from the golden era, is from a movie which has a Betty-Veronica twist to the storyline.

Identify the year in which the movie was released.

shira mukuTa kuNDala tilaka chaaru udaaru a.nga vibhuuShaNam
ajaanubhuja sharachaapadhara sa.ngraama jita khara duuShaNam

This 80s Bhajan album has some nice songs from Lata. The MD of this song is really the surprise package.

Identify the MD.

aanaa bhii hai jaanaa bhii hai har dafaa \-2
chalate raho mausam chale jis tarah

One of her best songs of the 90s, it was sung at the opening ceremony of an event. Asha was supposed to sing for the closing ceremony but RDB passed away and Lata chipped in for the closing ceremony too.

Identify the event where this song was sung.

phuul khilate rahe.nge duniyaa me.n \-2
One more line and the song would be a dead giveaway. This is a duet with a ghazal singer. There is also a gorgeous Lata solo from this movie. A late 40s movie by the same name has a beautiful duet by Lata and Rajkumari.

Identify the lyricist.

tanahaa_ii hai aur tuu bhii hai chaahaa vahii mil gayaa \-2
lag jaa gale Kushbuu terii tan\-man meraa mahakaa_egii

This tandem song is from an MD whose first ever song was sung by Lata. He had some very popular disco songs in the 80s. The tandem version of this song is sung by another great from the south of the Vindhyas.

Identify the singer who sang the tandem version.

koii pahale din jaise ghar kisii ke jaataa ho
jaise Kud musaafir ko raastaa bulaataa ho

Marvelous late 70s song and amazing rendition to go with it. Lata is close to her best in this song. This movie has one other great solo by Lata.

Identify the movie.

aa_e more sajanaa khil gaye a.Nganaa \-2
mai.n abhaagan \-2
rahii so_e rii

This Meera Bhajan is set to tune by one of the MDs of the golden era. Some people might claim that this song doesn't really qualify for this quiz. Explain why would that be?

(lataa: saajan mere haath thaame hii chalanaa
rastaa nayaa har qadam pe sa.Nbhalanaa) \-2
gaayak: Thokar lage to bhii kuchh Gam nahii.n hai
saath jo mere tuu hamanashii.n hai

This duet is with one of the better male singers of recent times. It is the title song composed by a little known MD who also directed and produced the movie.

Identify the MD.

suno miit mere ki mai.n giit jwaalaa \-2
tumhaare li_e huu.N mai.n swar kaa ujaalaa

One of the acclaimed poets, he has written lyrics to some great songs in the 40s and 50s. Some of his songs with Sudhir Phadke sung by Lata are gems worth treasuring.

Identify this Bhajan album of the '90s.

* * * *

That's it! Hope you have fun solving the quiz. I am eagerly anticipating your entries. I hope many of you will participate. Good luck!

Arun Iyengar



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Published on 21  June 2002

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