When I thought about listing down my favourite Lata Mangeshkar songs over the years, I didn't realize it would be such a huge exercise. Although I'm done with the most difficult decades i.e. 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, there are still a lot of good Lata Mangeshkar songs to come. Some people have commented that there's no point is talking about anything beyond the 1960s. Actually, if you really look it, was there any point even in listing the songs till the 60s? Any listing exercise is inherently pointless for the simple reason that every person would have his/her own list that will depend largely on the memories associated with the songs they have heard. If I like one song over the other, it is definitely not a comment on the musical quality of that song. A person with more technical knowledge about music might come up with an entirely different list. My basic intention behind putting together this list was to revisit Lata Mangeshkar's huge repertoire of songs and in the process try to identify songs I like more than the others.
1970s is a relatively easier decade to talk about because it clearly fell behind the preceding decades both in terms of quality and quantity. The music became more orchestral, which is not a bad thing, but the kind of films that were being made (especially in the second half of the decade) did not have much scope for music. Yet, there were a few standout Lata Mangeshkar songs in each of the years. The Hindi film music scene came to be dominated by the trimurti of Laxmikant Pyarelal - R D Burman - Kalyanji Anandji. But the real Lata gems came from under the baton of other music composers like Madan Mohan, Jaidev and Salil Chowdhury. Rajesh Roshan made a promising debut with a unique and distinctive style that came like a breath of fresh air. It is unfortunate that that unique style is nowhere to be seen in his current oeuvre. Bappi Lahiri also came up with some nice songs before he took the onus of launching a full fledged assault on the listener's ears in the mid 80s.
1970: Among the songs that I have heard from this year, Lata duets outnumber the solos. In fact that's true for most of this decade. Laxmikant Pyarelal continued to churn out hits after hits. Aan Milo Sajna with Achchha To Hum Chalte Hain, Tere Kaaran, and Rang Rang Ke Phool Khile was another musical hit for the new born superstar - Rajesh Khanna. Then we had Haye Re Haye from Humjoli. Other LP songs from 1970 include: Ek Gagan Ka Raja (Darpan), Jhilmil Sitaron Ka (Jeevan Mritu), Sanam Tu Bewafa (Khilona), and Rut Beqarar Hai (Maa Aur Mamta). Hema Malini was on her way to became the most popular heroine of the decade, with LP giving her two Lata dominated soundtracks in Abhinetri and Sharafat. In Abhinetri, I like Sajna O Sajna and O Ghata Saanwri for the sweetness of Lata's voice, while Sa Re Ga Ma Pa and Khinche Humse Saanwre were nice tunes as well. Sharafat was full of mujra numbers like Sharafat Chhod Di Maine and Duniya Ne Sun Li Hai, but the best number in my opinion was a bhajan Jeevan Daata Jagat Pita whose tune was very similar to Saanjh Savere (Madhvi, 1969). Then LP had a Talat-Lata duet Mohabbat Ki Kahaniyan (Wo Din Yaad Karo), whose claim to fame would be that it was probably the last film song that Talat Mahmood recorded.
I've never been a big fan of Kalyanji Anandji's music, but they had a few above average Lata songs this year - Tere Naina Kyun Bhar Aaye (Geet), Babul Pyare (Johnny Mera Naam), Kisi Raah Mein (Mere Humsafar), and Hum The Jinke Sahare (Safar). Rahul Dev Burman produced two lovely Lata solos - Na Koi Umang Hai (Kati Patang) and Kis Liye Maine Pyar Kiya (The Train). His father had Ishq Par Zor Nahin that had, among other Lata songs, O Mere Bairagi Bhanwra and Tum Mujhse Door, which were full of pathos, and the Rafi-Lata duet Ye Dil Deewana Hai. He also had Lata singing Rangeela Re in Prem Pujari. Salil Chowdhury's Na Jiya Lage Na (Anand) was another of Lata's melodious songs. Shankar Jaikishan's were on the last legs of creativity when they composed the soundtrack of Dharti, which, horror of horrors, sounded like LP on a bad day! It, however, had a popular Lata-Rafi duet Ye Mausam Bheega Bheega Hai.
My bias towards Madan Mohan's comes to the fore once again as I pick Dastak and Heer Ranjha as the soundtracks with the best Lata numbers in 1970. Madan Mohan also had Tumse Bichhad Kar from a film called Maharaja. Heer Ranjha had a wide variety of songs from the sensuous Lata-Rafi duet - Meri Duniya Mein Tum Aaye - to the frothy Milo Na Tum, to a sad Do Dil Toote to a traiditional heer - Doli Chadhte Heer Ne. Dastak got Madan Mohan the well-deserved National award. It had gems like Maai Ri Main Ka Se Kahoon (two solo versions by Madan Mohan and Lata), Hum Hain Mata-e-Kooch-o-Bazaar Ki Tarah (ghazal written by Majrooh), and my pick for this year - the classical based Baiyan Na Dharo, which had Lata exploring the lower notes.
Baiyan Na Dharo (1970 - Dastak - Madan Mohan - Majrooh Sultanpuri)
1971: Another year dominated by LP and RDB. LP's output included Mujhe Teri Mohabbat Ka (Aap Aaye Bahar Aayi), Sun Ja Aye Thandi Hawa (Haathi Mere Saathi), Jaadugar Tere Naina (Man Mandir), Jaane Kyun Log (Mehboob Ki Mehndi), Haye Sharmaoon (Mera Gaon Mera Desh), Sooni Re Nagariya (Uphaar), and Man Ki Baat Mere Man Se Na Nikli (Jal Bin Machhli Nritya Bin Bijli). RDB, on the other hand, had Raina Beeti Jaye (Amar Prem), Jiya Na Lage Mora (Buddha Mil Gaya), Dilbar Dil Se Pyare (Caravan), Kanchi Re (Hare Rama Hare Krishna), Rut Hai Milan Ki (Mela), Chanda O Chanda (Laakhon Mein Ek), and Tera Mera Juda Hona (Paraya Dhan).
Sachin Dev Burman's composition continued to be high on melody, as in Megha Chhaye Aadhi Raat (Sharmilee), Kitne Din Aansoo (Naya Zamana) and Mera Antar Ek Mandir (Tere Mere Sapne), yet included populist numbers like Rama Rama Ghazab (Naya Zamana), Aaj Madhosh Hua Jaye Re (Sharmilee), Jeevan Ki Bagiya (Tere Mere Sapne) and Hey Maine Qasam Li (Tere Mere Sapne). Salil Chowdhury continued with his consistency of producing one great Lata number every year with Roj Akeli Jaye (Mere Apne), which incidentally was not used in the film.
The best Lata Mangeshkar songs of the year were composed by SDB's erstwhile assistant Jaidev. His compositions in Reshma Aur Shera included two amazing Lata solos. Ek Meethi Si Chubhan is probably the 'sweetest' Lata song in the whole of 70s. The way she says 'meethi' in the beginning completely bowls me over. The other is Tu Chanda Main Chandni, a composition in Maand. It is difficult for me to pick one of these beauties over the other, so I select both as my favourite Lata Mangeshkar songs of 1971
Ek Meethi Si Chubhan (1971 - Reshma Aur Shera - Jaidev - Udhav Kumar )
Tu Chanda Main Chandni (1971 - Reshma Aur Shera - Jaidev - Balkavi Bairagi )
1972: Pakeezah was the soundtrack of the year. Since many of the songs were recorded as far back as 1955-1956, the Lata of Pakeezah sounded very different than she did in her other songs this year (See this rare clipping of Inhi Logon Ne shot in back and white in 1956). Songs like Chalte Chalte, Inhi Logon Ne, Chalo Dildar Chalo, Thade Rahiyo, Mausam Hai Ashiqana, and Aaj Hum Apni are still remembered to this date.
Lata Mangeshkar had by now started experimenting with more genres and getting into Asha Bhosle's territory of sensuous, come-hither variety of songs. Thoda Se Thehro (Victoria No. 203, Kalyanji Anandji) and Dekh Lo Wo Ghata (Roop Tera Mastana, Laxmikant Pyarelal) were two such songs. Laxmikant Pyarelal were largely responsible for giving her a really wide variety of songs to sing. For example, Dheere Dheere Bol (Gora Aur Kala), Kitna Maza Aa Raha Hai (Raja Jani), Dil Ki Baatein (Roop Tera Mastana) and Zara Sa Usko Chhua To (Shor) were targeted at mass popularity, while Ek Pyar Na Naghma (Shor), Mere Piya Ka Ghar (Piya Ka Ghar), and Patta Patta Boota Boota (Ek Nazar) were richer melody-wise.
R D Burman's Beeti Na Bitaye Raina (Parichay) would certainly figure among Lata's best. He also had some good Lata-Kishore duets like Tum Meri Zindagi Mein (Bombay to Goa), Chahe Raho Door (Do Chor), Deewana Karke Chhodoge (Mere Jeevan Saathi), Gum Hai Kisike Pyar Mein (Rampur Ka Laxman) and Jeena Ke Din (Gomti Ke Kinare). Madan Mohan only had Bawarchi this year which had two Lata solos - Mast Pawan Dole and More Naina Bahayen Neer, while Sachin Dev Burman's Anuraag had Neend Churaye and Sun Ri Pawan among other songs.
Although I consider Pakeezah as the best soundtrack of 1972, I regard two of Salil Chowdhury's compositions for Lata as her best for this year. One of them was from a completely forgotten movie called Anokha Daan - Madbhari Ye Hawayein. The other, which is my pick for this year, was an inspiring song from Annadata - Raaton Ke Saaye Ghane.
Raaton Ke Saaye Ghane (1972 - Annadata - Salil Chowdhury - Yogesh)
1973: The best soundtrack from this year was Sachin Dev Burman's Abhimaan, which had songs like Ab To Hai Tumse, Loote Koi Man Ka Nagar, Nadiya Kinare, Piya Bina Piya Bina , Tere Mere Milan Ki Ye Raina, and Teri Bindiya Re. Then there was Laxmikant's Pyarelal Bobby (it is said that Lata Mangeshkar helped them get this big break with RK films), where a 44 year old Lata Mangeshkar gave voice to a 15 year old Dimple. Jhooth Bole Kauva Kate and Hum Tum Ek Kamre Mein became extremely popular, although I prefer the recycled Pakistani tune Ankhiyon Ko Rehne De.
Some of the other Lata songs from this year include: Kalyanji Anandji's Naina Mere Rang Bhare (Blackmail), Samjhauta Ghamon Se Kar Lo (Samjhauta), and Bana Ke Kyun Bigada Re (Zanjeer); Laxmikant Pyarelal's Jab Bhi Jee Chahe (Daag), Mere Bachpan Tu Ja (Kachche Dhaage), and Main Tere Ishq Mein (Loafer); Rahul Dev Burman's Baahon Mein Chale Aao (Anamika), Bahut Door Mujhe (Heera Panna), Chal Chalein Aye Dil (Jheel Ke Us Paar), Phir Aankh Se Annsoo Barse (Raja Rani); and Ravindra Jain's Tera Mera Saath Rahe (Saudagar).
Madan Mohan's collaboration with Lata continued to result in melodious composition like Rasm-e-Ulfat Ko Nibhayen (Dil Ki Rahen), Aaj Socha To Aansoo (Hanste Zakhm), Betaab Dil Ki Tamanna (Hanste Zakhm), Duniya Banane Wale (Hindustan Ki Kasam), and Hai Tere Saath Meri Wafa (Hindustan Ki Kasam).
My top two Lata Mangeshkar songs from 1973 are by a veteran composer and his erstwhile assistant. Sachin Dev Burman's Sandhya Jo Aaye from Phagun is a song I can never get tired of. In some ways it was reminiscent of SDB's compositions in Jewel Thief, Sharmilee and Abhimaan, but that doesn't take away anything from the beauty of this song. The best song of this year, however, was composed by SDB's assistant Jaidev. Ever since Jaidev started composing independently, he produced some great songs but most of them were in films that somehow failed commercially, thus limiting the commercial success of the songs. Anyone who hears Lata humming followed by an evocative passage on flute and santoor at the start of Ye Dil Aur Unki Nigahon Ke Saaye (Prem Parbat), cannot but be hooked to this song. This film had another Lata gem, Ye Neer Kahan Se Barse.
Ye Dil Aur Unki (1973 - Prem Parbat - Jaidev - Jaan Nisar Akhtar)
1974: I haven't heard many Lata Mangeshkar songs from this year, so the choice is rather limited. Kalyanji Anandji's Vaada Karle Sajna (Haath Ki Safai), Roothe Roothe Piya (Kora Kaagaz) and Rangmanch Ye Duniya (Kasauti) are decent songs but don't have much repeat value. The same can be said about Laxmikant Pyarelal's songs in Roti Kapda Aur Makaan, which had the popular Haye Haye Ye Majboori. R D Burman fared better with some nice duets like Karvatein Badalte Rahe (Aap Ki Kasam), Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Mein (Ajnabi) and Kahin Karti Hogi (Phir Kab Milogi); and solos like Chori Chori Chupke Chupke (Aap Ki Kasam) and Tan Man Tere Rang Rangoongi (Archana).
For my favourite Lata song from this year, the choice is between 4 songs. The first one is a rare song from an almost unheard of film called Call Girl. Composed by Sapan Jagmohan, this song - Ulfat Mein Zamane Ki - sounds very much like a Madan Mohan creation, but is still extremely good. Then there are Sachin Dev Burman's Ye Kaisa Sur Mandir Hai (Prem Nagar) and Rahul Dev Burman's Din Ja Rahe Hai (Doosri Sita). Finally, we have Salil Chowdhury's Rajnigandha Phool Tumhare, which is my selection from this year.
Rajnigandha Phool Tumhare (1974 - Rajnigandha - Salil Chowdhury - Yogesh)
1975: Some of the songs that I like from this year were Uth Neend Se (Pratigya, Laxmikant Pyarelal), Aao Tumhe Chaand Pe (Zakhmee, Bappi Lahiri), Kya Meri Prem Kahani (Prem Kahani, Laxmikant Pyarelal), Do Nainon Mein (Khushboo, Rahul Dev Burman), Ye Raatein (Julie, Rajesh Roshan), Ab Ke Sajan Sawan Mein (Chupke Chupke, Sachin Dev Burman), Na Jaane Kyun (Chhoti Si Baat, Salil Chowdhury), Dil Mein Kisi Ke Pyar Ka (Ek Mahal Ho Sapnon Ka, Ravi), and two songs from Madan Mohan's Mausam - Dil Dhoondhta Hai, and Ruke Ruke Se Qadam.
There is also a rare song that I fell in love with the first time I heard it around 16-17 years back. I have been unable to find a complete version of this song anywhere. All I have is a portion of this song that I had hastily recorded in the blank space towards the end of a pre-recorded cassette. The song I'm talking about is Sun Man Ke Meet from Mrig Trishna. This film was probably the only one for Shambhu Sen, and it also had a Mohd. Rafi gem - Navkalpana Nav Roop Se. The songs of this film were also penned by Shambhu Sen.
My favourite soundtrack from 1975 is Aandhi. Each of the three Lata-Kishore duets is a perfect mix of lyrics, music and singing. Tere Bina Zindagi Se, Tum Aa Gaye Ho and Is Mod Se Jaate Hain would easily rank among the best songs from the 1970s. Among them, I prefer Is Mod Se Jaate Hain more than the others, if only marginally.
Is Mod Se Jaate Hain (1975 - Aandhi - Rahul Dev Burman - Gulzar)
1976: The quality of music continued to decline as we progressed through the 70s. I haven't heard more than 35-40 Lata Mangeshkar songs from 1976, and the ones I remember are just a few: Bappi Lahiri's Door Door Tum Rahe (Chalte Chalte), Laxmikant Pyarelal's Aayegi Aayegi (Jaaneman) and Tere Sang Jeena (Naach Uthe Sansar), and Rahul Dev Burman's Mere Naina Sawan Bhado (Mehbooba). Madan Mohan's Laila Majnu was released after his death. Although the tunes were good, the arrangement and orchestration didn't do justice to the tunes. Still, Is Reshmi Paazeb and Husn Haazir Hai were better than most of the songs released in this year.
Khaiyyam's career got a fresh lease of life with Yash Chopra's Kabhi Kabhie. It had some good songs like Mere Ghar Aayi and Surkh Jode Ki Jagmagahat (which was more like recitation in tarannum), as well as more mass friendly numbers like Tera Phoolon Jaisa Rang and Tere Chehre Se. My favourite song from this year is the title song - Kabhi Kabhie Mere Dil Mein, more for Sahir's lyrics than anything else.
Kabhi Kabhie Mere Dil Mein (1976 - Kabhi Kabhie - Khaiyyam - Sahir Ludhiyanvi)
1977: Another year with very few good songs. Hridaynath Mangeshkar composed the music for an eminently forgettable film from the Shantaram stable - Chaani. The film had a nice song - Tumhi Ho Mere Apne - whose basic tune was reworked and embellished to produce the extraordinary Yara Seeli Seeli in Lekin around 15 years later. Laxmikant Pyarelal worked on a number of films with Manmohan Desai, none of which had a memorable Lata song, except perhaps for Humko Tumse Ho Gaya Hai Pyar (Amar Akbar Anthony), which is memorable only because this was probably the only time Lata Mangeshkar, Mohd, Rafi, Mukesh and Kishore Kumar sang a song together. LP's Aadmi Musafir Hai (Apnapan) was among their better songs for Lata in 1976. Madan Mohan had another posthumous release in Sahib Bahadur, which had a gem like Mushkil Hai Jeena (I have always felt that Madan Mohan's most heart wrenching numbers have been completely spoilt on screen by a piece of wood called Priya Rajvansh).
Rahul Dev Burman's Kinara had some very good tracks like Meethe Bol Bole, Naam Gum Jayega and Ab Ke Na Sawan Barse, while his Manzil had Rimjhim Gire Sawan. Some of the other stand-out Lata numbers from 1977 are Kahe Manwa Nache (Alaap, Jaidev), Chal Kahin Door (Doosra Aadmi, Rajesh Roshan) and Aap Yun Faaslon Se (Shankar Hussain, Khaiyyam). However, it was Rajesh Roshan's Swami that had the best Lata song of this year - Pal Bhar Mein Ye Kya Ho Gaya.
Pal Bhar Mein Ye Kya Ho Gaya (1977 - Swami - Rajesh Roshan - Amit Khanna)
1978: After two lacklustre years, 1978 was musically richer. Many of the songs from this year have some sort of nostalgia associated for me: Every time I hear Tumhe Dekhti Hoon (Tumhare Liye, Jaidev) it takes me back to my childhood days in Rajasthan. I remember watching Meri Sanson Ko (Badalte Rishte, Laxmikant Pyarelal) and wondering why the Ichchhadhari naag naagin (Jeetendra and Reena Roy) were not gyrating to the tune of a been. I recollect watching Salaam-e-Ishq (Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Kalyanji Anandji) and wondering if Rekha was a mujre-wali in real life (she seemed to have mastered that role to perfection), only to be disappointed with Ghar where she played the role of a housewife who sang melodious gharelu songs like Aaj Kal Paon and Tere Bina Jiya Jaye Na.
1978 had other good songs like Thoda Hai Thode Ki Zaroorat Hai (Khatta Meetha, Rajesh Roshan), Aap Kahen Aur Hum Na Aayen (Des Pardes, Rajesh Roshan), Aaina Wohi Rehta Hai (Shalimar, Rahul Dev Burman), Aapki Mehki Huyi and Mohabbat Bade Kaam Ki Cheez Hai (Trishul, Khaiyyam), Gulmohur Gar Tumhara Naam (Devta, Rahul Dev Burman), Kasme Vaade Nibhayenge Hum (Kasme Vaade, Rahul Dev Burman), Dil To Hai Dil (Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Kalyanji Anandji), and Main Tulsi Tere Angan Ki & Chhaap Tilak (Main Tulsi Tere Angan Ki, Laxmikant Pyarelal)
Laxmikant Pyarelal's Satyam Shivam Sundaram was the most complete soundtrack of this year. Sainya Nikas Gaye and Bhor Bhayee are personal favourites. This film also had a song that was is not easily found in any cassette or CD. This song - Suni Jo Unke Aane Ki Aahat - has a tune that is very common with poets who recite ghazals in tarannum. The earliest use of this tune was probably Wo Hum Se Chup Hain by C Ramchandra in Sargam, and the most recent being Salaam Karne Ki Aarzoo by Anu Malik in Umrao Jaan. It is the title song of this film that remains one of my all time favourite Lata songs. The moment she starts with Ishwar Satya Hai, I feel as close to divinity as I can possibly be.
Ishwar Satya Hai (1978 - Satyam Shivam Sundaram - Laxmikant Pyarelal - Pandit Narendra Sharma)
1979: Laxmikant Payrelal's Sargam had the nation dancing to the beat of dafli. Dafli Wale Dafli Baja was the most popular song of the year, but other songs like Koyal Boli and Parbat Ke Us Paar were popular as well. Doori Na Rahe Koi (Kartavya) is another LP creation that I like. Bappi Lahiri rounded off the 70s with an outstanding number in Lahu Ke Do Rang - Zid Na Karo. Naushad resurfaced with an exquisite creation for a B-grade film Chambal Ki Rani - Ye Bekasi Ke Andhere had shades of Naushad of the 1960s. Rajesh Roshan had another successful stint with Baahon Mein Teri (Kala Patthar, one of the last few films for which Sahir wrote the lyrics), Uthe Sab Ke Qadam (Baaton Baaton Mein), and Pardesiya (Mr. Natwarlal). Khaiyyam produced Chori Chori Koi Aaye (Noorie) and Ye Mulaqat Ek Bahana Hai (Khandan)
The best songs this year were composed by Rahul Dev Burman, be it the classical based Ae Sakhi Radhike (Jurmana), or the light Ek Baat Kahoon from Golmal (which, incidentally, had Lata in really bad form), or the lori from Nauker - Chandni Re Jhoom. His best songs for Lata were from Jurmana - Chhoti Si Ek Kali, Ae Sakhi Radhike, and my pick for this year Sawan Ke Jhoole Pade.
Sawan Ke Jhoole Pade (1979 - Jurmana - Rahul Dev Burman - Anand Bakshi)|