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Can't thank listeners enough for bearing with me for 70 years: Lata Mangeshkar

In an interview with the news agency IANS on her 88th birthday, the legend recounted her experiences, struggles and fun times.


Legendary Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar, who turned 88 today (28 September), says age doesn't dampen her spirits and she has always lived with the hope of a better tomorrow.

"Bahut ho gaya... aapko kaisa lagta hai? Aap gaati kyun nahin hain? Aapke favourite naye singers kaun hai? Aap apni behen [Asha Bhoslese kyun nahin milti? Arrey bhai, sab ho chuka hai [It's enough... How do you feel? Why don't you sing? Who are your favourite new singers? Why don't you meet your sister? I have answered all this enough]," she said.

"Let's talk about the fun times," she suggested as though she were 18 rather than 88.

With a girlish giggle, Mangeshkar said: "Should I tell you the truth? I don't feel my age at all. I still feel young. I've never been weighed down by my troubles. Everyone has her share of problems in life. Even when I was young and struggling, I was happy hopping from studio to studio bumping into other strugglers like Kishoreda and Mukesh bhaiyya. Those were fun times even when I had to go hungry for the entire day. There was no money in my purse. But there was hope in my heart. And the belief that no matter how tough the future looked, there was always hope for a better tomorrow."

Also read: Lata Mangeshkar’s sister Meena, niece Rachana on her talent and work ethic

Once, on a hot, sweltering day, Mangeshkar had fainted during a recording. She set the record straight about the incident: "It has wrongly been presumed over the years that I fainted while recording a song with Salilda [Chowdhury]. It's nothing like that. Of course, his songs were very complex. So were those composed by my brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar. But because of my father's blessings, I was always up for any challenge in the recording studio.

"No, that incident where I fainted happened with Naushad saheb. We were recording a song on a long, hot summer afternoon. You know how Mumbai gets in summer. Those days, there was no air-conditioning in the recording studios. And even the ceiling fan was switched off during the final recording. I just fainted."

She laughed at the memory and remembered another anecdote with the singer-turned-actress Uma Devi, popularly called Tun Tun.

"I had some really fun times," she said. "I remember I was recording a duet with Uma Devi who later became the comedienne Tun Tun. Uma Devi was as 'khati-peeti' [portly] back then as a singer as she was later as an actress. So there we were, the two of us, singing into the same mike. Back then, duets were recorded on one mike. Me, a frail, reed-like, pint-sized girl, she quite formidable in her physical presence. I was given a stool to stand on, as I had a problem reaching the mike. I sang my lines and then when Uma Devi moved forward to sing into the mike and nudged my shoulder, I fell right to the ground!"

This story was followed by a peal of laughter.

So whom did she enjoy recording with the most?

"Kishoreda!" pat came the reply. "Recording with him was like one whole session of fun and games. He would make me laugh so much, I could barely sing. I had to stop him. Kishoreda, pehle gana phir masti [first the song, then fun]. It was especially problematic when we were singing sad duets. Instead of tears of grief, my eyes would be tearful with laughter."

Speaking of her grief-stricken songs, it is said that the whole congregation at the recording wept when she sang Madan Mohan's 'Heer' in Heer Raanjha (1970) and Sachin Dev Burman's 'Tum Mujhse Dur Chale Jana Na' in Ishq Par Zor Nahin (1970).

"That's true," she said. "Except for me they were all crying. I've never been a weeper even when singing the most sombre songs. I've always preferred laughter to tears. God has always been kind. I've never been given any reason for tears. I think I cried the most when I lost my father and my mother."

So, what are her birthday thoughts? "I can't thank listeners enough for bearing with me for 70 years," she said. "Waqt kaise nikal gaya pataa hi nahin chala [I didn't even notice time fly by]. If I had a chance to live it all again I wouldn't change a thing. Not even that fall from the stool while singing with Uma Devi!"