Lata Mangeshkar lists her five memorable pieces by singer-composer Hemant Kumar, whose death anniversary falls on September 26

She sang her first ever Tagore number ‘Tomar Holo Shuru' with him. Both have rendered haunting duets such as ‘Yaad Kiya Dil Ne', ‘Tumhe Yaad Hoga' and ‘O, Neend Na Mujhko Aye'. On her 81st birthday (September 28), Lata Mangeshkar talks about five of her memorable songs she rendered for Hemant Kumar, whose 21st death anniversary falls on September 26.

‘Man Dole Mera' (“Nagin”)

One of my earliest songs for Hemantda, it was a hit in the early 1950s, and still remains a rage. Just like S.D. Burman and Salil Chowdhury, Hemantda had the ability to handle his singers, arrangers and musicians efficiently. The been played by Kalyanji, then an assistant to Hemantda, was very effective.

‘Kahin Deep Jale' (“Bees Saal Baad”)

A unique number with emotions and mystery mingled. Hemantda, was also the film's producer. The starting note had a haunting effect, and I distinctly remember having goosepimples while recording the number. The song still mesmerises, and Hemantda proved his command on melody in this number, which I rank at par with Madan Mohan's ‘Naina Barse' and Shankar Jaikishan's ‘Gumnaam Hai Koi'.

‘O Bekarar Dil' (“Kohra”)

This evergreen number was a Hindi version of Hemantda's own ‘O, Nadi Re' in Bengali. He changed the orchestration for this solo, with violins, cellos and the bamboo flute very effectively. As I rendered, ‘Mujhko Ho Gaya Aansuon Se Pyar…', Hemantda smiled, and asked me to be romantic, not melancholic. I did, and the song was a hit!

‘Kuch Dil Ne Kaha' (“Anupama”)

My best number I sang for Hemantda. The film had a bold and significant theme, and who else but Hemantda could've done it justice musically? There was a river of pathos in his heart that reflected in the piece. I was asked to blend romance with pathos, and I remember being in another world as I sang the number! Hemantda focussed more on my vocal abilities than the background score, and created a lilt. Ustad Ali Akbar Khan told me he was moved to tears listening to it, and Salil Chowdhury too complimented me for my rendition.

‘Humne Dekha' (“Khamoshi”)

Perhaps, the last number I sang under Hemantda's baton. He knew it was impossible for him to recreate the musical magic of the original Bengali version ‘Deep Jele Jai', but, he did not fail to create serene romance with a subtle touch of tragedy. The violins were very effective in this number. I'd lowered my notes to create a breezy effect. Hemantda had music in his veins, and believed in simple, heart-touching melodies. He had no formal training in Indian classical music, but rose to the occasion whenever it was required. Pity, a singer-composer of his calibre has not been given his due in the country.

(As told to Ranjan Das Gupta)