Famously known as the Nightingale of India, Lata Mangeshkar’s voice has touched millions across generations. In a career spanning seven decades, she has lent her voice to over 30,000 songs. Not just a singer, Lata is a phenomenon who has played a major role in shaping the country’s musical culture. She is gifted with a golden voice that is incapable of going out of tune. Her achievement is unparalleled for any singer on the face of the earth.
To mark the celebrated singer’s 91st birthday on September 28, here’s looking back at some of the melodies that are immortalised for her heavenly voice.
O sajna barkha bahaar (Parakh, 1960)
Salil Choudhary’s song from the 1960 Bimal Roy film remains one of the finest composed in raga Khamaj. The music beautifully blended with Shailendra’s lyrics. The song picturised on Sadhana with the surrounding rain and accompanying instrumentation like the sitar makes this melody unforgettable.
Aayega aanewaala (Mahal, 1949)
Lata crooned this song in her 20s and over six decades after its recording, the song remains a classic. This song was almost like a preview for the nation giving a glimpse of a voice that left generations spellbound with its magic. Madhubala added a special allure to the beautifully visualisation of Kamal Arohi.
Satyam shivam sundaram (Satyam Shivam Sundaram, 1978)
Not one of the easiest songs to render but Lata gave this the seamlessness and quality it needed to impress the audience. A master composition, by Laxmikant Pyarelal for Raj Kapoor’s film believed to have been inspired by Lata’s voice. Lata’s attempt and Zeenat Aman’s enchantment made this song classic.
Ehsaan tera hoga (Junglee, 1961)
The hugely talented duo of Shankar-Jaikishen scored the music for this soulful song crooned by Lata. The gem of a song was separately rendered by her and Mohammed Rafi. The beautiful picturisation on Shammi Kapoor and Saira Banu perfectly blended with the lyrics penned by Hasrat Jaipuri and Shailendra.
Ae mere watan ke logon (1963)
For a country where music is close to films, this poignant patriotic song written by poet Pradeep and tuned by C. Ramachandra moved a nation like no other. Lata’s performance, on the Republic Day in 1963, in the presence of former President S. Radhakrishnan and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, had the listeners in tears. The song commemorates Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the Sino-Indian War in 1962.
Ae dil e naadaan (Razia Sultan, 1983)
Khayyam, the late legendary composer sought Lata to serenade this achingly beautiful song. Her poignant rendition made it one of the best classics of the 80’s. With Jan Nisar Akhtar’s expressive lyrics, this song was also made beautiful due to Hema Malini’s grace. Kamal Arohi charmingly envisioned the song’s depiction that will stay long with any music aficionado.
Lag jaa gale (Woh Kaun Thi?, 1964)
This haunting melody composed by Madan Mohan, is so beautiful and touching. Only Lata could capture the soul of this classic. Her goosebumps inducing voice and Raja Mehdi Ali Khan’s lyrics was significant in making the song immortal. Sadhna and Manoj Kumar brings every nuance of emotion possible on screen.
Mera Saaya Saath Hoga, (Mera Saaya, 1966)
The utterly heart wrenching song chanted by Lata who was Madan Mohan’s muse is an old-time favourite. The exceptionally touching song is all about yearning for a loved one that who is gone. Raja Mehdi Ali Khan gave his words to one of the most popular songs, even to this day.
Yeh kahaan aa gaye hum (Silsila, 1981)
Javed Akhtar who was lyricist for the song avowed that no one in the world could sing the verses as meaningfully as Lata did. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Shivkumar Sharma scored the music for this all-time romantic favourite track. Lata proved to be a genius to effortlessly blend her voice with Amitabh Bachchan’s recited shayari.
Ajeeb dastan hai yeh (Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai, 1960)
One of the most beautiful music compositions by Shankar-Jaikishan leaves an impression on our heart and mind. The sound of the saxophone and Shailendra’s lyrics gave the song a distinct level of stature.
The tender expressions of Meena Kumari who reacts to her beloved Raaj Kumar and Nadira’s alliance are subtle yet verbose. Lyrically, melodically, visually this one has every element that is needed to make a song timeless.