10 non-filmi songs by Lata Mangeshkar – Narendra Kusnur
February 6 marks one year since the great Lata Mangeshkar passed away. In this column, we specifically focus on her non-film songs, sung in Hindi and allied languages.
The selection is a mix of patriotic tunes, devotional songs, ghazals and motivational numbers. There is no particular order, but we have kept in mind a certain flow. The poet’s name is mentioned with each song.
1 Ae Mere Watan Ke Logo – Kavi Pradeep
Lata first sang this song on January 26, 1963, at New Delhi’s National Stadium in memory of soldiers who had sacrificed their lives in the 1962 Indo-China war. The song brought tears to the eyes of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who was in the audience. Kavi Pradeep wrote the words and music was composed by C. Ramchandra.
2 Saare Jahaan Se Accha – Muhammad Iqbal
Written by Allama Muhammad Iqbal as a patriotic song for children, ‘Saare Jahaan Se Accha’ was first published in the journal Ittehad in 1904. There were various versions but the one recorded by Lata was composed by maestro Pt Ravi Shankar. The words are, “Saare jahaan se accha, Hindustan hamaara, hum bulbule hain iski, yeh gulsitaan hamaara, hamaara”.
3 Main Pardesini Naari Akeli – Sant Surdas
This Surdas bhajan was set to music by Pt Hridaynath Mangeshkar for the 2001 album Meera Soor Kabeera. Lata’s voice and intonation were perfect as she sang, “Main pardesini naari akeli, bin Raghunath, aur na koi, maat pita na saheli”. The other Surdas bhajans in the album were ‘Dinanath Ab Baari Tumhari’ and ‘Ab Main Nachya Thakyo’.
4 Chala Wahi Des – Meerabai
Lata showed immense control in the high register on this Meera bhajan, which was the title track of her 1974 album. Hridaynath Mangeshkar composed the music. The words were, “Chala wahi des, chala wahi des, kaho kusumbi saari rangwa, saari rangwa, kaho to bhagva bhes, chala wahi des’. Minimal orchestration was used. Lata had earlier recorded a popular album of Meera bhajans in 1968.
5 Baaje Re Muraliya – Pt Narendra Sharma
This Krishna bhajan was recorded in duet with classical vocalist Pt Bhimsen Joshi in the 1985 album Ram Shyam Gun Gaan. Pt Narendra Sharma wrote the lines, “Baaje re muraliya baaje, adhar dhare Mohan murali par, hoth pe maaya biraaje”. Music was by Shrinivas Khale and Anil Mohile, and use of bansuri was prominent.
6 Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi – Mirza Ghalib
Written by Mirza Ghalib, this ghazal has been sung by numerous singers, with Jagjit Singh’s rendition being very popular. Lata recorded it under Pt Hridaynath Mangeshkar’s direction in 1969. The words were, “Hazaaron khwahishen aisi ke har khwahish pe dam nikle, bahut nikle mere armaan lekin phir bhi kam nikle”.
7 Dard Se Mera Daaman Bharde – Qateel Shifai
In 1991, Lata recorded the album Sajda with ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh. ‘Dard Se Bharde’ was a solo song written by Pakistani poet Qateel Shifai, with Jagjit composing the tune. Lata’s voice was enchanting as she sang, “Dard se mera daaman bharde ya Allah, phir chaahe deewana karde ya Allah”.
8 Aao Man Ki Gaanthein Khole – Atal Behari Vajpayee
In 2004, Lata released an album of seven songs containing the poetry of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Music was by Mayuresh Pai. This song ‘Aao Man Ki Gaanthein Khola’, as its title suggested, talked about opening one’s mind. Another positive poem was titled ‘Aao Phir Se Diya Jalaaye’.
9 Thumak Chalat Ramchandra – Sant Tulsidas
This is one of Lata’s popular Ram bhajans, and was written by Tulsidas. The words are, “Thumak chalat Ramchandra, baajat painjaniyaan”. Music was by Pt Hridaynath Mangeshkar again. The song has been recorded by many others, including Anup Jalota, Anuradha Paudwal and flautist Ronu Majumdar.
10 Om Jai Jagdish Hare – Pt Shardha Ram Phillauri
This aarti was written by Shardha Ram Phillauri as a dedication to Lord Vishnu, but has also been sung as a motivational song. The main lines are, “Om jai Jagdish hare, swami jai Jagdish hare, bhakt janon ke sankat, daas janon ke sankat, kshan mein door kare, Om jai Jagdish hare”. The chorus, percussion and manjira in the 1983 Lata version give it a temple effect.
While this list focuses on Hindi and related languages, there are many songs Lata has recorded in regional languages. Topmost are her Marathi songs, which include the Ganesh aarti ‘Sukhakarta Dukhaharta’. That would make another list.