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She was a star even before her debut

india Updated: Sep 30, 2006 15:49 IST
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‘Kanomein amrit ghol re ghol re....’ and Lata Mangeshkar had been infusing ambrosia in the ears for as long as listeners can remember.

Round the clock and around the world, not only through channels, which spoke Hindi but also on Holland’s Internet radio which devoted full three hours to Lata. Yet after enthralling the world on her anniversary she came home in the evening.

True to the style of classicists who sing their best to a limited audience after the well attended concerts, the finest of her songs were listened to in Indore, at venues she would have chosen to visit – Suman Chourasia’s at Pigdamber and Shrota Biradary.

Thursday evening at Sanghi Muktakash was a special occasion, for the choicest songs from rarest of Lata’s repertoire were played to a conscientious audience and interpreted by most creative of critics, Ajatshatru.

This professor of literature has a singular faculty of visualizing Lata’s Gayaki; of going beyond the words and emotions to experience the very spirit and sketch it for the listener to view. Stunning as it is, gives the naïve music lover an insight into the soul of the composition. Quintessentially that is Lata in one of her many faces.

‘Kanomein amrit’ was a rare treat. It is a composition she voiced for a students’ ballet on Buddha before she made her debut as a playback singer.

All of the fourteen songs that came from Suman Chourasia’s legendary collection and played from original discs on a gramophone were never heard before by most in the Biradary. It would be a difficult task for a committee of musicians to select a hundred of Lata’s best songs. Ajatshatru’s selection of a little over dozen compositions showed the wide range Lata possessed - from a devout Radha to a cheeky Nimmo, from a frail girl to a woman strong from within.

All these expressions manifested when she had only appeared on the horizon of film music. Lata had posed objection to certain provocative numbers but her ‘Mera nam Nimmo’ with a genial aha was found to be more ravishing.

That was an era when songs were listener’s delight and not of the viewer’s. The visuals Ajatshatru projected were stronger than any surviving celluloid images of those early films. They made listeners feel that Lata does not sing words but the meaning they carry, or rather their emotions. It is not easy to comprehend but Ajatshatru listens to something that is further beyond – the silence.

It is in his search of nothingness he chances upon Lata, and he indeed brought her flitting delicate glimpses for the Biradary.

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