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When Lata Mangeshkar first sang for Kamini Kaushal

How Ziddi (1948) changed the careers of Mangeshkar, Kaushal and Dev Anand

Sonal Pandya

Director Shaheed Latif's Ziddi (1948) was fairly monumental on many fronts. It was actor Dev Anand's first leading role and brought together Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar on their first duet, 'Ye kaun aya re' composed by Khemchand Prakash. Ismat Chughtai wrote the film's screenplay thinking the reigning superstar of the Hindi cinema, Ashok Kumar, would step in opposite Kamini Kaushal. But the top management at Bombay Talkies including Kumar decided upon the newcomer who was hanging around the studio lot instead. Ziddi became Dev Anand's first big hit.

Ziddi was also notable in allowing Mangeshkar to sing for the leading lady for the first time in her career. Kaushal recalled how the incident came to be, "Lata sang for me in Ziddi for the first time. That was the first time she sang for the leading lady in a film. Before that, she sang for actresses in supporting roles. Shamshad Begum and Surinder Kaur—whose voices had more base—used to sing my songs. On the music credits on the record, Lata's name was not mentioned. Instead, it was mentioned that Asha sang the songs—Asha was my screen name( in film Ziddi). That's why people thought I had sung it."

The practice of giving credit to playback singers was not yet in place. It would be Mangeshkar who would change that when her wildly popular song 'Aayega aane wala' played on the radio the next year and listeners demanded the singer's name. It sure wasn't Kamini, the character played by Madhubala in 1949. The song's widespread acclaim forced the record companies to start putting the names of the playback singers for their adoring public.