In her career spanning six decades, Lata Mangeshkar has sung Hindi film songs for more than 170 composers. Over the next few weeks I will be writing several posts on her collaboration with composers for whom she has sung the maximum number of songs.
I am no fan of Laxmikant Pyarelal’s music. However, when we talk of Lata there is no way we can ignore this highly prolific and successful composer duo. Lata and LP have collaborated for close to 700 songs (I think the actual figure is around 680), that range from plain mediocre to truly sublime, from cacophonous assault on the ears to sweet melodies. Given the sheer number of songs the duo composed, it is only natural that consistent quality is difficult to find in their repertoire. What is, however, noteworthy about LP’s collaboration with Lata is that very few other composers have created such a wide variety of songs for her to vocalize. Unfortunately, when we talk of LP today, all that is discussed is the heavily orchestrated, dholak dominated cacophonous mess that characterized their later output. If one carefully sifts through their output, especially their creations vocalized by Lata, one will come across many gems. Through this post I would like to reveal some of the beautiful melodies that the Lata-LP combination produced.
LP made their debut with Parasmani (1963), a fantasy film with a hugely popular music score. Lata Mangeshkar sang 5 songs in the film, out of which Hansta Hua Noorani Chehra (a duet with Kamal Barot) ranked high on the charts of 1963. In the same year, LP also composed the music for a mythological – Harishchandra Taramati. The soundtrack of this film included a beautiful dance number in Raag Kalavati – Meghva Gagan Beech Jhaanke.
Despite winning the Filmfare award for Dosti in 1964, Laxmikant Pyarelal were mostly associated with B-list films – mostly mythological and fantasy films. Yet, they continued to produce extremely melodious compositions for these films. Their compositions in Sati Savitri (1964) and Sant Gyaneshwar (1964) rank among their very best. One of my all time favourite Lata-LP song is Jeevan Dor Tumhi Sang Baandhi from Sati Savitri, set to the strains of Raag Yaman.
During the early phase of their career, LP were closely associated with the action flicks starring Dara Singh. On such film was Lutera (1965), which had as many as 6 songs sung by Lata. Of these I have a special fondness for Sanam Raah Bhoole, whose antaras represent the creative zenith of the duo.
Other noteworthy Lata songs from Dara Singh movies include Aapne Kya Kaha (Aaya Toofan 1964) and Do Nain Bechain (Boxer 1965)
In the period 1966-1969, LP were clearly on their way up but their output was still focused on quality rather than quantity - a trend that would reverse itself towards the second half of 70s. Lata continued to be their preferred female singer. Some of her best songs for LP are from this period. These include:
Suno Sajna – Aaye Din Bahar Ke (1966): the opening alaap is extremely evocative.
Mere Sanam – Naag Mandir (1966): a worthy inclusion in the ‘haunting melody’ category.
Tum Kaun Ho Batao – Aasra (1966) – absolutely love the humming in the beginning.
As LP started their climb on the popularity ladder, big banners started taking note of them. Lata Mangeshkar was one of their strongest supporters at that time and was probably instrumental in them bagging a number of plum assignments. One of the most significant movies they bagged was Anita (1967). This was significant not because this film or its music was a big hit, but because they replaced Madan Mohan, who had a long standing relationship with producer-director Raj Khosla (Raj Khosla had even sung a song in Madan Mohan’s first film as a composer), in a film that was a part of the trilogy which included musical masterpieces like Woh Kaun Thi and Mera Saaya. One isn’t sure about what made Raj Khosla switch loyalties, but starting with Anita, LP came to be associated with almost every subsequent Raj Khosla movie. Maybe it was the Raj Khosla connection, but some songs in Anita were strongly reminiscent of Madan Mohan.
In the same year, LP also produced a few Madan Mohan-style songs in Jaal and Milan. I must add that these songs, though reminiscent of Madan Mohan, were original tunes
The last 2 years of the 1960s also saw LP at their melodious best. There were several gems rendered perfectly by Lata Mangeshkar. There is a lot I can talk about these songs, but since I’ve already used so much of space, I will limit myself to listing those songs for you to judge yourself.
Lata Mangeshkar counts Chalo Sajna as among her difficult songs as the tune doesn’t allow for too much breathing space.
In the next part of this article, I will talk about some Lata-LP songs from the 70s through 90s.