10 actresses I loved to sing for – Lata Mangeshkar

10 actresses I loved to sing for - Lata Mangeshkar

Lata Mangeshkar talks about her favourite top 10 actresses of all time for whom she sung superhit songs.

Madhubala: "She stipulated in her contracts that she wanted only me to do her playback singing. This was after the success of 'Aayega Aanewala' in Mahal, though I had sung for her earlier. During those days we'd meet socially quite often. That kind of camaraderie no longer exists. Madhubala mujhe bahut pyar se milti thi. After Mahal, I did notice a change in her. Me? I was too busy recording to notice changes in myself (laughs). But yes, 1949 was a decisive year for me. Every film I sang for was a super hit. There was no looking back after that…Later Madhubala fell ill. But she continued to work. In fact she performed to some of my best songs in Mughal-E-Azam while she was terribly ill. I didn't meet her as often as I met Nargis."

Nargis: "She lived at Marine Drive, quite close to Walkeshwar where I stayed. So we met at home as well as the recording studios. She used to be present for all the song recordings of Raj Kapoor's films. I remember she would bring sandwiches to the studios and feed all of us. Jaane kahan gaye who din! She was a woman with great poise. Her lifestyle clothes and speech were always proper. I never saw her improperly dressed. She always wore white saris with matching accessories. And since white was my favourite colour, she would send over the door-to-door sari sellers from Lucknow to my house. I have never seen her wearing non-white. Me? I wore a coloured sari once to a recording. The chorus girls laughed so hard I swore never to dabble in colour ever again. After that I said, 'Rang hatao, Lata.' From childhood I preferred white…I remember I had been to entertain the jawans after Bangladesh came into being in 1971 with Nargis, Dutt Saab and their Ajanta Arts troupe. Waheeda Rehman and Mala Sinha were also with her. We had a ball. I remember staying in a place where the floor had blood on it. I was so scared I asked my brother Hridaynath to sleep close by. When we had to meet Mujibur Rahman. Dutt Saab briefed all the ladies to wear white. Then he looked at me and said, "I don't have to say anything more to my sister."

Waheeda Rehman: "She accompanied me on my live concert in 1995. She's so simple and pure, never behaved like the big star she was. Those artistes were a breed apart….I sang really beautiful songs for her, except in the films which she did for Guru Dutt. There, naturally the director's wife Geeta Dutt did the playback. In all the films of Guru Dutt, I sang only one song for Waheeda Rehman, and that was 'Badle Badle Mere Sarkar Nazar Aate Hain' in Chaudhvin Ka Chand….I sang super-duper hit songs for Waheeda in Bees Saal Baad, Guide, Mujhe Jeene Do, Reshma Aur Shera…even today we meet with a great deal of love. That's the way she is."

Meena Kumari: "I remember one day she called and introduced herself. She wanted me to come and sing in her house. I declined saying I don't sing for private functions. She never held that incident against me. She often used to land up at the recording studio for my songs. One day for a recording for Hemant Kumar I had washed my hair and left it open. Meena Kumari who was very proud of her hair, looked at my hair and exclaimed, 'Kitne lambe baal hain aapke!' I told her I had never cut my hair in my life. My voice used to match her to perfection. What an artiste and what a fine human being! During the making of Pakeezah (which went on for a good 20 years) Kamal Amrohi who used to treat me like a daughter invited me home for song rehearsals. Meena Kumari was practicing her steps for my songs in Pakeezah. Meena turned to me and said, "When you sing I don't have to make any effort to act." I cherish that compliment. Sadhana had said something similar to me once. Meena Kumari often called to chat. She seemed very unhappy with her life. I met her at the Filmfare awards in 1968. She had become thin and pale. That year I had given up the awards, and she said, 'It's like the queen abdicating her throne.' Later I came to know she was extremely ill. When I reached her place with flowers she looked very ill. She looked at me and said, 'Allah, aap yahan aaye, main badi khush-kismat hoon.' We chatted. She asked me for tea, though I sensed she was in no position to offer me anything except her warmth in that condition. She passed away a little later. And then Pakeezah became a legend. Meena Kumari was so ill she couldn't dance for the film. But I cherish my songs for her in that film."

Nutan: "We didn't interact much. Being a singer herself she could convey the nuances of my songs. That really helps. The way she has emoted to my classical number 'Man Mohana' in Seema was exemplary. You know it's tough for me to lip-sync some of my own songs. But Nutan managed to do it to perfection even in such a tough song. Even Meena Kumari and Sadhana never faltered."

10 actresses I loved to sing for - Lata Mangeshkar

Saira Banu: "Since Dilip Saab considers me his sister, I call Sairaji my Bhabhi. I visit her quite often and we speak about each other's families. I've always shared very good relations with her entire family. She's exceptionally attached to her family. I remember when her grandmother died she was devastated. Women aren't allowed to go to the place of a dead person's last rites. But Sairaji couldn't help accompanying her Nani all the way to the gates of the burial ground. That's how attached she's to those she loves. She loves Yusuf Bhai more than any wife that I know. When he was hospitalized she didn't budge from his bedside. She would call and ask me to come there. She's very fond of me. I've sung some of my most successful songs for her. Even Sairaji insisted that only I sing for her."

Geeta Bali: "She left us prematurely. Whatever work she did was exceptional. I had a great personal rapport with her. Though I didn't sing that much for her, whatever I did was very popular, like 'Shola Jo Bhadke' in Albela. I also sang in the film that she produced Raag Rang. It was 'Are Ri Aali Piya Bina'. I used to visit her home in Versova. My family doctor used to live close by. She never behaved like a star. She behaved like any ordinary girl. It was very rare for me to visit anyone's home. Geeta was one of them. That's how fond I was of her."

Jaya Bhaduri: "I believe she once said that heroines acquire stature when I sing for them. Yeh unka badappan hai. She's a superb artiste. She has always done full justice to all my songs from Uphaar to Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Abhimaan is of course the high point of our collaboration. Do you know while I recorded these songs Jaya would come to the studio and study me closely? She used my mannerisms even my white saris with colourful borders to play the singer in Abhimaan. I used to get slightly self-conscious by her presence. Later when I saw the film I realized why she would sit and observe me while I sang."

Rekha: "I know she's genuinely fond of me. I love my songs for her in Ghar and Silsila. I find her very clean-hearted. Ek din to kamal hua…suddenly I was told Rekhaji had come visiting. We chatted like two sisters all evening. She told me she wanted to learn singing. She never forgets to wish me on my birthday. Her love me for me isn't put-on."

Hema Malini: "The most beautiful woman I've come across in the film industry. Aisi khubsoorati maine aaj tak film industry main nahin dekhi. She's pure honest and simple. No matter where we meet she greets me with great warmth and never says no to anything. She's the same within and outside. In life she has never gone where she didn't want to. On two occasions there was a slight misunderstanding. She was hurt when I said no to singing for her in Gulzar's Meera. My reason for doing so has been distorted. I didn't sing in Meera because I had already recorded Meera bhajans. Meerabai is my idol. I didn't want to do Meera Bhajans for an entire soundtrack, though I've no objection to singing stray Meera bhajans in films. I've sung 'Jo Tum Todo Piya' for Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje and Silsila. But these were Meera bhajans sung by others characters, not Meerabai. I explained this to the music composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Gulzar. They thought I was saying no because I wanted my brother to compose for Meera. Not true! Hemaji requested me to sing for Meera. I couldn't explain properly to her why I couldn't do so. On another occasion she had asked me to sing for her dance ballet. I couldn't because of prior engagements. But I want Hemaji to know that I consider her an epitome of grace and beauty. She can never do anything undignified. Sundar to hain hi. Lekin unki atma bhi sundar hai. She's the last of our screen queens. Among the contemporary lot I like Juhi Chawla, Kajol and now Rani Mukerji."

Article written by staff at Bollywood Hungama. Read more

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