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Suraatle Naate....


bin sune rahaa nahin jaaye re

Author: Lata Mangeshkar
Translated by Dr. Veena Nayak.
The following is a translation of a chapter from Phule
Vechita. The book is not an autobiography in the
strictest sense of the term; it is a collection of
articles penned by Lata since 1952. The editorial
effort is by Madhuvanti Sapre and Dinkar GAngal. My
only peeve regarding this book is the complete lack
of bibliographical information (other than authorship)
on these writings. Details such as dates, sources,
etc. would have been useful in placing these
compositions in a critical context. Instead, we have
to make do with the sycophantic dribble of the
editors going gaga over Didi.

The 125-page book comprises of eighteen chapters. I

have chosen the one titled, "Relations in Melody;
Melody in Relations" (believe me, it does not sound
trite in Marathi). There is indeed a faint odour of the
(in)famous sibling rivalry. However, the lasting
impression that one comes away with is that of
cherished bond between a fond elder sister, and an
extremely endearing, generous younger sister.
Therein lies the charm of this piece for me. I hope it
is not lost in the translation.

SUratle NAte, NAtyatle SUr

"Phule Vicheta"

I was very young when Baba admitted me in school. The school was nice.
Situated near the Murlidhar temple. I went on my first day. The teacher was really
typical. Donning the brahmaN-style pagdi and a shawl, he made us write
"ShrigaNeshAya namah" on our slates. I wrote it; he was happy and
congratulated me. "Ten marks to you", he said.

I came home joyous and the next day, I took Asha to school with me. The teacher
was furious and said, "She is too young. She cannot sit in the class". I got very
angry and, returning home, said to MAi, "I am not going to school again". "Why?
What happened?", MAi enquired. "The master won't let Asha sit in class and that
I simply cannot tolerate."

I had to leave school for good. I remember some events from childhood. Some
have been forgotten. But I do remember that Asha was nicely plump and
extremely naughty. Once Meena and I were standing on a stool, trying to get at
some spicy edibles stored away by MAi. Asha came on the scene and said, "I
haven't eaten any of it, ok?"

Due to the drama company, we used to stock plenty of milk at home. Asha would
eat all the cream. So what if she wiped her mouth clean? She would have some
spilt on her feet. Then MAi would punch her on the back.

Right from the beginning, Asha took great pleasure in household tasks. She
would massage Baba and MAi's feet every night. Any chore, whether she was
assigned to it or not: washing, cleaning dishes, sweeping...Asha would cheerfully
perform it. Later, when we moved to Kolhapur, our house was on the second
floor. Everyday she would draw bucket after bucket of water from the well and fill
it at home.

Around 1946-47, we moved to Bombay's Nana Chowk. At that time, Asha's

avtaar was that of a tomboy. Donning a khaki shirt, khaki pant and topi, she
would gather all the children of Nana Chowk and parade with them. There used
to be dharamshala adjacent to the Shankarshet temple. After our company
closed down, we used to stay there. In the temple yard, Asha would teach the
children to parade. She used two words: Attention and Shoe Mart. She used to
think that she had issued very important orders and if the kids made mistakes,
the fisticuffs would begin.
Asha's schooling too came to an abrupt end. Her teacher once got angry with
her. She was so furious that she slapped his face. She never went to school after

Asha married at the age of fourteen. We were all opposed to it. I even beat her
up and she left home in anger. MAi and everyone else at home were very upset.
Asha began living in Borivili. Hence our relations were almost severed for quite a
few years. Subsequently, I heard that she had started playback singing. Earlier
on, Asha had sung with me for the film, "MAzhe BaaL" in 1943. But none of us
had ever imagined that she would become a singer. (** Following her marriage
**), I had seen her in the studios a couple of times. But she didn't speak to us.
Because her husband did not approve of it. In that same period, we sang five to
seven duets. But she would be very fearful of speaking due to Bhosle's presence
outside. One day he was absent, so I said, "Let's go to drink coffee". We went
and I realized that Asha did not have a single penny in her purse. I was shocked.
It meant that she did not enjoy any sort of economic independence.

We used to hear from outside sources that Asha was being made to record as
many as three, four songs from morning to evening. He would take her by train
from Borivili to various studios for sittings with music directors, and after returning
home at night, it was "cook thhis, cook that".... He really ill-treated Asha. I even
heard from a chorus girl that she was recording even a few hours before Hemant
was born. We were unable to protest and since she had left in a huff after fighting
with us, she felt that she could not return home without losing face. Eventually,
this period ended and we bought houses adjacent to each other.

Regarding Asha's singing talents, I must say that there is no other artist as
versatile as she is. In the earlier stages, she would sing without properly opening
her mouth. Hence her voice and enunciation were totally different. Today if you
listen to the first three or four records of hers, you will not recognize them as
Asha Bhosle's voice. Perhaps she did not receive appropriate guidance. Asha
told me that she observed the singing styles of Samshad and Geeta and thereby
found defects in her own singing. She then decided that she must change her
own style.

After that she started getting assignments with excellent music directors. Music is
such that the more one sings and the more varied the music directors that one
learns from, the more one's voice develops. It also builds experience and self-
Asha's voice soon gained firmness and weight. The credit goes to her nature.
She is never willing to accept that she may not be able to perform a particular
feat. All of us Mangeshkars possess this trait, but in Asha's case it is more
pronounced. Muslim students learning classical music from the ustads are
persistent in their pursuit of a particular skill. This is true in Asha's case as well.

She is extremely stubborn. Whenever she had cold, cough or fever, I would tell
her not to go (** for recordings **). She would agree. But half an hour later, when
I asked, "Where's Asha?", I would find out that she had gone for recording. This
happened several times. I am not like that. It is all right if one is unable to sing
properly in front of fifty people. But tomorrow, fifty thousand people are going to
hear it and what if they call you names? This thought makes me cautious. But
Asha goes, because she gives an excellent recording even though it may take
more time. For many people, I would consider such stubbornness to be a fault.
But in Asha's case, it is indeed a virtue.

As I said, Asha can sing all types of songs very well. However, western style
songs or semi-classical qawwalis fit her voice perfectly.

Many of Asha's Marathi songs have become famous. Even though I do not like
lavaNi, Asha's "Bugadi mAjhi" from Sangtye Aika is a very nice song, which she
has rendered in an incomparable manner.

She has sung all of BaaL's songs very well. Firstly, all of those songs have
beautiful poetry. Secondly, BaaL's semi-classical tunes and thirdly, BaaL's
expertise in extracting whatever he wants from a singer. Moreover, he never felt
that Lata-Asha are his elder sisters and that there is no need to make them redo
small things over and over again.

Besides BaaL, Asha has sung a lot of songs for Sudhir Phadke. Those songs
were very successful and are very sweet. However, I feel that she has imitated
Babuji (** Sudhir Phadke **) in those songs. She had no choice as he made her
sing the way he wanted to. When Babuji himself sings, the songs sound sweet
because his voice is suited to that style. Asha would sing in her own style for
Vasant Prabhu, Vasant Pawar, BaaL PaLsule, Srinivas KhaLe or Datta Dawjekar.
If she had done the same with Sudhir Phadke, those songs would have been
more beautiful. Anyway, this my opinion and observation, because I listen with
minute attention.

In the field of Hindi music, two composers suited her very well. OP and RD. Her
voice was utilized very well in "JAiye aap kahaan", "yeh hai reshmi zulfon ka
andhera" and the songs that she has sung for Pancham are all excellent. All
songs from Teesri Manzil are among my favourites. She has also sung well for
Roshan and Salil Chowdhury (whose tunes are difficult, with many highs and
lows) and again, for BaaL in "Prarthana" and "Lekin". Although she has sung for
all music directors, her songs with Jaidev and Khaiyyam are in a class of their
own. She has poured her soul in them.

Now I feel that she should be a little choosy. There is no need to sing everything
just because she can sing and the offers come in. I have decided to sing only for
about 4-5 music directors with whom I get along and who have been producing
good music.

Nowadays, she performs in Marathi programmes with BaaL and those are highly
successful. Of course, receiving live appreciation from an audience is very
pleasing to any artist. But I keep telling both of them not to overdo it. Otherwise,
people will say, "No problem even if we miss this program. We can catch another
one in five days". People should be left wanting for more. Only then will it be

Asha's tolerance is endless. She deeply loves all of us and the children and
comes runnung to help in times of need. She is complete as a mother. And as I
mentioned before, she takes immense joy in serving family members. Even after
recording for the entire day, she is eager to cook various dishes for the children
in the evening.

If I have to find fault with her, then it is that she is over-imaginative. She
unnecessarily gets affected by trivial things and broods over them and thus
upsets herself. She is moody too. Her mercurial temper rises as quickly as it falls.

Since we are sisters, all this praise may be viewed as hollow. But I have only
sincerely said what I perceive to be Asha's strengths and weaknesses. Truly!

(Note: Baba is Dinanath Mangeshkar. MAi is Shuddhamati Mangeshkar, their

mother and BaaL is Hridaynath.)

Lata Mangeshkar : A living