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Blast from the past: Lata v Asha
This was written I think just after August 15th, 1999. I think around that time, there was a stage show for AR Rahman's new album.
Last week it was a great sight watching Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle sing together for AR Rahman's music in the "Desh ka salaam" album. Two sisters, two legends, who were supposed to have had a very frosty relationship with each other (on the professional front) were brought together on the same stage and they even exchanged a smile during the song. It was a great sight and we must thank Rahman and Bala for that.
Lata first burst on the scene with Barsaat (Jiya Beqarar hai) and Mahal (Aayega), with Barsaat being only the first in a long line of great songs she sung for Shankar-Jaikishen and under the RK banner. It is impossible to put down a list of great Lata songs for there are so many of them. The ones that really stay with me would be Aapki nazron ne samjha, songs from Madhumati, Aey mere vatan ke logon, Allah tero naam, Pakeezah, Guide, Humne dekhi hai in aankhon ke mehekti khushboo (Khamoshi), Aandhi songs etc.
See, its just not possible to make even a top 10 list ! But interestingly Lata possibly never sang for OP Nayyar and even for SD Burman, she came in only in the late 1960s with Guide. However Lata's association with Shankar- Jaikishen (not Dr. JR) and Laxmikant-Pyarelal have given us lots of wonderful songs. However the best Lata songs were with Madan Mohan. Songs like Naina Barse, Ruke ruke se kadam, Aapki nazron ne samjha, Tu jahan jahan chalega mera saaya, Zara si aahat hoti hai would stay with me forever. They were so beautifully tuned and superbly sung.
Having said all this, its high time Lata retired with grace. I cant really bear to hear her sing Didi tera (HAHK..!), Chand ne kuch kaha (DTPH), Jiya Jale (this is certainly her best song in recent times) etc. In this respect, Asha has done a far better job than Lata.
Asha's great ability is her adaptability. If the genre of songs at that time was slow, then she would sing those. If it was ghazals, Asha would so it. When pseudo-rock tunes came out in the 70s, she was there. If it was the disco and jhankar tunes (of Bappi Lahiri and Laxmikant-Pyarelal) she was there too ! Now when its hard beats and pseudo-techno sounds, every film has a song from Asha ! That is versatility for you and its certainly not the jack-of- all-trades-master-of-none kind of versatility.
Most of Asha's gems have been with OP Nayyar, SD Burman and RD Burman. OP Nayyar's simple ghoda gadi songs have been made immortal with Asha and Rafi's singing. A few examples would be Chain se humko kabhi, Isharon isharon, Jaayiye aap kahan, Zara hole hole chalo more saajna, Maang ke saath tumhara etc. Before SD Burman shifted to Lata, Asha rendered such gems as Acha ji main hari chalo, Aankhon mein kya ji, Chodd do aanchal zamana, songs in Chalti ka naam gaadi and Teen deviyan etc.
The husband wife pairing of Asha and loRD Burman gave us so many great songs in the 70s like Teesri Manzil, Chura liya, Mera kuch saamaan, Piya tu ab to aaja etc. And Asha isnt done yet. Songs in Rangeela and a few other recent movies are proof that this wonderful singer will continue to enchant us with her amazing range.
But I end on a slightly miffed note. I was absolutely aghast to see Rahman play around with the national anthem. Making changes to Vande Mataram is one thing and to the national anthem is a totally different thing. Its totally unacceptable. Moreover it violates the Constitution (which specifies somewhere the max. time duration which the anthem should be sung in). I hated that bit of the programme, for sure.
All the blasts: Kargil & WC 1999, Lata v Asha, Tam-Brahm wedding, Madras, Unglamourous Orissa, Idols and Bangalore.
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