Express press service
HYDERABAD: The disappearance of legendary playback singer Lata Mangeshkar has come as a brutal shock not only to Bollywood but also to the Telugu film industry.
His death drew tributes from many prominent actors, music composers, playback singers and other technicians. For over seven decades, Lata Mangeshkar, better known as Lata didi to her fans, has been a major presence as a playback singer, who has sung many hit charts which are later recreated or sung by many singers at music concerts. Although his best known songs are in Hindi and Marathi, his impact on Telugu cinema with his two songs – Nidurapora Thammuda (Santhanam) and Tella Cheeraku (Aakhari Poratam) is everlasting.
Reflecting on his association with Lata Mangeshkar, famed Telugu producer C Ashwini Dutt, who funded Aakhari Poratam, says, “I think I had done something worthwhile in my previous life (poorva janma sukrutham) to get Lata garu to sing a song in my movie. ”
When asked how he came across Mangeshkar for the song, he explains, “After finalizing SP Balasubrahmanyam garu as the male playback singer, we were looking for a singer who sounds fresh, unique and versatile for our audience. Raja garu (Ilaiyaraaja) then suggested Lata garu’s name and approached her. She was thrilled to arrange a Telugu comeback almost after 40 years and came to record the song within a week.
He continues: “When she entered the recording studio, she greeted everyone with respect, love and humility. She admires Ilaiyaraaja garu and praised him a lot for about 30 minutes. She also shared a wonderful relationship with Balu garu and together they delivered a hit song.
Lata Mangeshkar spent around six to seven hours in the recording studio and went the extra mile to understand the nuances of Telugu.
“Usually, she takes 20 minutes to record a song in Hindi. A perfectionist, she would repeat the song from morning to night. She was obsessed with pronunciation and she listened diligently to the Balu garu, its instructions and suggestions, then sang. If she had any doubts, he would clear them right away. Between breaks, I went to talk to her. What amazed me was her love for Telugu cinema. She was eager to know what was going on here,” explains Dutt.
Prominent playback singer Sunitha says Mangeshkar was a big influence on her. “Lata Didi was a celestial singer, who chiseled every song to perfection. It is an experience to live through his voice. With her divine voice, Lata Didi seemed to walk with us every step of the way, always with us, in joy or sorrow. Her magical voice is relief and therapy for many anguished souls. It was a pure joy to listen to his songs as a music lover. We can’t imagine anyone singing with so much emotion and passion. And his pronunciation was perfect,” reveals Sunitha.
Recalling her fond memories with the singer, she said, “I was honored with the Lata Mangeshkar Award for Best Singer for 2011 by the Government of Andhra Pradesh. I received the award from Lata Didi and I am truly blessed that she chose me for this honour. I still remember her saying “Aapki awaaz meethi hain” when giving the award. Those words were like Bharat Ratna to me,” Sunitha recalls fondly.
Sharing her favorite moment with Lata, Sunitha says, “I sang with Lata didi as a backing vocalist during one of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) projects. I felt really lucky to see her perform live and sing one of her hit songs in front of her at a concert at Shilpakala Vedika.
She adds: “I’m still thinking about the idea of listening to his voice sing Tu jahan jahan chalega and Mere awaaz hi pehchaan hai, it was divine. Like Balu garu, Lata didi is a true karma yogi and she will be greatly missed.
“Lucky to work with Lata Garu”
Producer C Ashwini Dutt, says, “I think I had done something worthwhile in my previous life (poorva janma sukrutham) to get Lata garu to sing a song in my movie.