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A terrible but honest attempt with a Lata top 10

Not easy:Try compiling your own top 10 Lata songs and you will understand the challenges—Photo: PTI  

Imagine being bombarded on some Facebook or WhatsApp group with this question: What are your top 10 Lata Mangeshkar solo numbers? Some 25 others have already posted their esteemed opinion. Not wanting to be overlooked, you type what comes to mind. Most often, you face flak for missing somebody’s favourites. “What on earth do you know about Lata-di?”

Precisely. These song, album, musician or genre-based lists have become a fad on the social media. Everybody is interested in knowing everybody else’s favourites. RD Burman, Rahman, Ravi Shankar, Rashid Khan, Rolling Stones, Radiohead, Rihanna, rockstars, reggae-cats, rhythm kings, etc, etc. And ultimately, everyone thinks he or she has the best list.

Sadly, compiling such a sequence isn’t easy. Nobody’s list is perfect. Let’s try Lata’s solo songs. No duets allowed. How does one choose only 10 classics when 100 instantly come to your head? And when one talks of the Nightingale, one can’t obviously restrict oneself to Hindi film songs. Anyway, here’s my attempt.

The leader would always be Aayega Aanewala from the 1949 film Mahal . It was composed by Khemchand Prakash and written by J Nakshab, names which very few would know. Next would be Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon, C Ramchandra’s patriotic non-film tune, written by Kavi Pradeep. The song made Jawaharlal Nehru weep with emotion.

These songs will always be my top two. What follows will change every few hours.

Numbers 3, 4 and 5 are Yeh Zindagi Usi Ki Hai (from the film Anarkali , music by C Ramchandra, lyrics by Rajinder Krishan), Tera Jaana (from Anadi , Shankar-Jaikishen, Shailendra), and Lag Jaa Gale (from Woh Kaun Thi , Madan Mohan, Raja Mehdi Ali Khan). Some personal memories of these hits.

My sixth song was my school prayer in Jamnabai Narsee, Juhu. I was there only two years, but it remains a favourite. From Do Aankhen Baarah Haath , with music by Vasant Desai and lyrics by Bharat Vyas. Next is a song I heard only five years ago, but feel it’s one of her best. The Marathi masterpiece Mogara Phulala , written by the legendary Sant Dnyaneshwar, and composed by Hridaynath Mangeshkar.

Number 8 was the toughest. I had to include music director Salil Chowdhury somewhere, and my first thought was O Sajana from Parakh . Even Aaja Re Pardesi from Madhumati . Yet, I chose the Bengali tune Pa Ma Ga Re Sa , simply because of its sheer classicism.

That brings us to the last two. How could I omit Khayyam’s version of Mir Taqi Mir’s Dikhaaye Diye Yoon in Bazaar ? And finally, the shocker. Aa Jaane Jaan from Inteqaam , simply because Laxmikant-Pyarelal made Lata-ji sing an offbeat cabaret ditty to Rajinder Krishan’s pen.

Okay, okay, that was my top 10. I know lots of people are growling. How could I miss Chaand Phir Nikla , Rasik Balma , Ab Toh Hai Tumse , Nadiya Kinaare , Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya , Mohe Bhool Gaye Saanwariya , Uthaye Ja Unke Sitam , Jhoom Jhoom Dhalti Raat , Mera Saaya , Nainon Mein Badra , Raat Aur Din , Megha Chaaye , Allah Tero Naam , Jiya Jale , Dhuan Mein Banaake Ke Fiza Mein , any Meera bhajans...?

No Naushad, SD Burman, RD Burman, Roshan, Hemant Kumar, Jaidev, Rahman. No Majrooh Sultanpuri, Sahir Ludhianvi, Shakeel Badayuni, Anand Bakshi, either. I mean, what kind of a list is this?

I plead guilty. But then, try your own top-10 Lata songs and see the challenges. The top 10 will change every single day. Now, time to enjoy her music.

Narendra Kusnur is a freelance music writer

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 9:30:56 PM |

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