When Lata Mangeshkar sang for Madan Mohan

It was a collaboration most melodious

Updated - February 06, 2022 09:43 pm IST

Published - February 06, 2022 09:27 pm IST

Lata Mangeshkar and Madan Mohan. File

Lata Mangeshkar and Madan Mohan. File

She had a voice from heaven. He could conjure up tunes that were out-of-this-world.

When they joined hands — which, fortunately, was very often — the result was sheer magic. Lata Mangeshkar and Madan Mohan together gave Hindi cinema some of its sweetest songs ever.

Hugely successful collaborations between composers and singers are not unusual in Indian cinema. It’s as if the composers reserve their best for their favourite voices — although that’s increasingly less frequent these days, when music isn’t as indispensable an ingredient in our cinema as it used to be.

We have had fruitful partnerships like Naushad-Mohammed Rafi, R.D. Burman-Kishore Kumar, O.P. Nayyar-Asha Bhosle, Ilaiyaraja-S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, M.S. Viswanathan-P. Susheela, M.S. Baburaj-S. Janaki, G. Devarajan-Yesudas, Raveendran-Yesudas and A.R. Rahman-Hariharan. Yet, there have been few collaborations as melodious and consistent as the one between Lata and Madan Mohan.


Their strike-rate was so high, it was Bradmanesque. You need not be choosy about making a playlist of their songs, you could pick any and you would feel like pressing the rewind button many times over.

Take Lag jaa gale…, for instance. It is perhaps the most popular of all their songs. And there aren’t too many Lata songs — of any composer — that is as universally liked.Its YouTube video has been viewed more than 22 crore times since it was posted in 2010. Remember, the song is from a film released in 1964 ( Woh Kaun Thi?) . The tune is hauntingly beautiful and the way Lata has sung it, right from the humming at the beginning, hooks the listener for life. The pure melody of the song best represents the uniqueness that Lata Mangeshkar and Madan Mohan brought to their body of work.

But is this their finest song? Maybe not.

Two gems, Woh chup rahe to… ( Jahan Ara )and Naghma o sher ki… ( Gazal ), come readily to the mind as contenders. And there are several other great compositions like Nainon mein badra.. ( Mera Saaya ) , Aap ki nazron ne… ( Anpadh ) , Mai ri… and Baiyan na dharo… ( Dastak ) , Naina barse… ( Woh Kaun Thi? ) , Yun hasraton ke… ( Adaalat ) and Teri aankhon ke siva… ( Chirag ) .

All those brilliant works didn’t translate into success in his life time for Madan Mohan though. He wasn’t appreciated enough, didn’t get to work in many big films, or win popular awards of the day. He was understandably bitter about it. He could have taken solace that his music, especially when he had his muse Lata for company, would bring joy to music lovers for decades to come.


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