Kaifi Azmi Madan Mohan Remembrance Day

Remembering the unforgettable one…

6th February 2022 was a very sad day in every music lover’s life in India, and indeed the world. The iconic voice of music in India that had regaled four- five generations of Indians in virtually all Indian languages was silenced most cruelly due to a Chinese Virus. A lady whose voice was arguably the most easy to recognise in the world of all 7 plus Billion humans, was first silenced by a machine she had to be connected to to push Oxygen down her virus affected lungs and then as the Virus took over, by the inevitable march of the disease overwhelming her body, one organ after another. When my friend told me about the outcome (and the early morning bulletin had been encouraging, kindling hopes amongst the billions praying for, hoping against hope- and medical facts and logic that I hoped would be proven wrong this one time – a recovery in Her health) my first reaction from the mountains I dwell in on weekends was one of disbelief. I was to do a program the next morning on AIR Delhi FM Gold on another artiste, and my mind said I should instead do one as a tribute to the lady. Just as I was browsing my phonebook to get through to the host of my program, she rang me up and echoed my thoughts. So Cliff Richard had to give way to a tribute to the lady. We agreed and I made a playlist ready in some 15 minutes.  That  program went through the next morning and it was one of the most well received ones of the nearly 40 I did on AIR Delhi FM Gold. 

The great Lata Mangeshkar has departed from this world leaving behind an unbelievable legacy of and treasure trove of music. She has been music’s leading ambassador for over 8 decades, transcending boundaries and language barriers while imparting an unparalleled charm and quality to her work.

Her voice has been the voice of more than a billion fans around the world and has given many an emotional connect to their innermost feelings through her divine music.

Lata Mangeshkar has left a huge hole in the world of music and everyone who has ever listened to her music will miss her dearly.

It is impossible to write about Lata Mangeshkar with clinical objectivity if you love Indian music, which virtually every Indian does. After all only two things unite all Indians: Cricket and Music (especially Film Music). For a person who has had a very long- seven decade long- career, it is impossible that any Indian has not heard a song by Lata Mangeshkar anything less than a few thousand times in his/her lifetime. There is always a Lata song for every occasion, every mood and every twist of fate. It is impossible to accurately capture the oeuvre of this genius in a few hundred or even a few hundred thousand words.  One could list a few thousand songs to highlight her class and skills in conveying various emotions and surely there would be several others with several thousand more that did not figure on your list, for no other reason than that she has been so prolific in her output of unforgettable all- time classic melodies. And amazingly she has done so over multiple decades in multiple languages, and this one fact tells us about her unique place in the pantheon of musical greats in India.

I wonder what would have happened if her early advocate, fan and mentor, Ghulam Haider, who after introducing her to Sashadhar Mukherjee and the latter’s dismissive turning down of Lata as “her voice is too thin” had given up on her. After all Sashadhar Mukherjee was arguably the biggest film mogul of the time (incidentally he was married to Ashok Kumar’s only sister- Satidevi). He fortunately (for us) persisted in his faith in the lady and gave her the break in films: Majboor saw her sing her first song in Hindi Films: Dil mera toda, Mujhe kahin ka na chhoda. She was introduced to many musicians by him and made a huge splash with Aayega Aanewala with Khemchand Prakash in Mahal. The song changed the course of her life forever and a star, was well and truly, born.

Of all the many composers she worked with, and this she did with multiple generations of them, including even those whose parents had not been born when she embarked on a glorious career and had already established herself as a singer of substance, I feel her best songs came from collaborations with composers who made the complex compositions that were worthy of her mettle. The others, the music factories, just could never challenge her to give of her best. For an artiste of her caliber, their work was just not testing enough. Three names stand out on this account: Jaidev Verma and Madan Mohan in Hindi and Hridaynath Mangeshkar, her youngest sibling, who seemed to have a special set of extremely torturous / tortuous compositions specially made for people like his two famous siblings. Lesser singers would fall flat by the wayside while a Lata would canter along smoothly like the thoroughbred that she undoubtedly was.

When I had to choose one song for today and one that I had not covered before, it had to be this one. It is from Chetan Anand’s Hanste Zakhm. Sadly the movie was blighted by the choice for the lead pair. Navin Nischol (aptly named as he was the latest of a long line of unworthy inanimate objects that were painted, shod in the right fabric and presented/ imposed on the unsuspecting audience as leading men- for no fault of the honest, ticket buying public). He lived up in every way possible to his name. The leading “lady” (if one may at all call her that) was Chetan Anand’s (the producer/ director) folly/ muse, (and a lady who was definitely emotively severely challenged- I have not seen anything in the many roles I cringe and plead guilty to the crime of having seen her in- to make me ever feel she could emote). In that sense she could easily be the closest feminine equivalent of the D company supported serial stammerer who manages (with some difficulty, if I may say so) between two and a quarter and two and two fifths of emotions. Priya Rajvansh was definitely his Priya and paid for the (dis)honour with her life in a manner most violent. The movie was saved from being confined to esoteric movie historian’s writings by a sublime musical score that was conjured up by the only wise partnership that Chetan Anand did manage : with the amazing genius, Madan Mohan.

Madan Mohan was a rare genius and could weave the most magical, dazzling fabric out of the seven notes. He certainly shared a mutually beneficial creative partnership with Latadidi. Some of his best songs have Latadidi doing the vocals, and vice versa, any list of Latadidi’s lifetime best songs MUST have a disproportionately high number of Madan Mohan Songs.

Just look at this song. The complex tune is made on an eclectic mixture of Jaunpuri, Kafi and Sindhura. Only a true genius can ever think of such an unimaginable but addictive mix. The composition has such a wonderful blending of guitars and sitar that one is left admiring the man’s undoubted skills.

The lyrics are truly sublime: Kaifi Azmi was indeed a skilled wordsmith.

आज सोचा तो आँसू भर आए
मुद्दतें हों गई मुस्कुराये

हर कदम पर उधर मुड़कर देखा
उनकी महफिल से हम उठ तो आए
आज सोचा तो आँसू…

रह गई ज़िन्दगी दर्द बन के
दर्द दिल में छुपाये छुपाये
आज सोचा तो आँसू…

दिल की नाज़ुक रगें टूटती हैं
याद इतना भी कोई न आए
आज सोचा तो आँसू…

    …………….. कैफ़ी आज़मी

The visuals of the song are traumatizing to any sensitive human. The cigarette in K N Singh‘s hands is more mobile than the lady’s face and I am sure both Latadidi and Madan Mohan must have enacted the song in real life watching the song being put through such torture with utter apathy (pun intended). Latadidi had got used to such traumatic treatment of her immortal songs. But poor Madan Mohan couldn’t and sought solace in Bacchus, which led to an untimely end to his life. Watch it yourself and be sure to have plenty of tissues handy.

My heartfelt respect and gratitude to the unique songstress. She had a song for every shade of every human emotion and made my life so much richer. Truly, today is but a remembrance day for her physical form which she shed in her journey to unite with the supreme being. As Vyas said in his Bhagavadgita,

नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि नैनं दहति पावकः। न चैनं क्लेदयन्त्यापो न शोषयति मारुतः।।     
श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता २.२३।।

Weapons, fire, water and air are incapable of cleaving, burning, wetting and drying the self; for, the nature of the self is to pervade all elements; It is present everywhere; for, It is subtler than all the elements; It is not capable of being pervaded by them; and cleaving, burning, wetting and drying are actions which can take place only by pervading a substance. Therefore the self is eternal. It is stable, immovable and primeval. 

Lata Mangeshkar did not die.

The Lata Mangeshkars of the world never die. She will always be with us forever and ever through the large body of work she left behind for us..

Stay healthy and happy, folks. I will stay lost in her music, today , tomorrow and forever


By abchandorkar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Pune, India

18 replies on “Remembering the unforgettable one…”

Latajis voice was maa Saraswati’ voince.incomparable.Her voice and life can not be described in words.Hats of to you dear for attempting so .Her voice can stirr your heart.She will be born as Lataji only.Even God has no choice.

Liked by 1 person

What a beautiful homage to Bharat Ratna Lataji
And a lovely song so aptly selected for the occasion 🙏🏾 with your Sanskrit Shlok a gem is added to the Prayers that millions of fans are offering… YESSS LATA NEVER DIES🙏🏾

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भारतरत्न लतादीदींना ही खरी श्रद्धांजली…केवळ अप्रतिम…,,🙏🏻🙏🏻

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Remembering Lata Mangeshkar on a particular day will only make sense if you were allowed to forget her on any other day.
However, remembrance on the day she left for her eternal abode is perfectly in order. Your tributes in the previous blog/broadcast and today’s post are worthy of mention and undoubtedly a work of golden labour.
CONGRATULATIONS for an excellent contribution.

Liked by 1 person

Beautifully written, My heartfelt tribute to Bharat Ratna Lata ji who commanded the Indian music arena for long time. Thanx Doctor for attributing the same nicely.These can only be possible for a person who is highly knowledgeable of universal music.

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