Apart from condolences and tributes, the demise of Lata Mangeshkar has revived her musical connection with Kashmir.
By Sheeba Wani
IN the ‘Jash-ne-Kashmir’ of sixties, fresh-faced Saira Banu woos a camera-wielding mainland tourist as a stereotypical Kashmiri girl wearing traditional robes and cultural symbols.
But after Shammi Kapoor acts snooty, the playful scene of Junglee (1962) turns musical with the familiar voice of a singer known for her dulcet duets with the “beloved singer” of Kashmir — Mohammad Rafi.
Six decades later, as the Nightingale of Bombay turned Mumbai Film Industry fell silent, that iconic song—‘Kashmir Ki Kali Hoon Main’—was shared as a tribute by sundry in the mountains where Lata Mangeshkar’s voice still echoes through the good-old radio.
In the competing obituaries over her demise, the singer’s songs shot in Kashmir made many nostalgic about the times when her vocals would enthrall generations in the musical gardens and theatres of the valley.
“I was in my teens when I first saw Sadhna enacting “Ye Sama” song sung by Lata Mangeshkar in a movie opposite to Shashi Kapoor,” recalls Mushtaq Shah, a cine-lover of yore in his sixties. “I could see how the nightingale’s intense emotional voice left the young people in an emotional state inside the cinema hall. She would make you fall in love.”
Sami Ashraf, a retired government teacher, credits the late singer for giving voice to her emotions and generation back in seventies.
“Unlike the crowd of singers today, Lata was one-woman orchestra for us, always enthralling our youthful feelings,” Sami, who hails from Sopore, says. “She had a massive audience in the valley.”
For couples, Lata was a voice of love, says Sheikh Mubashir, a bizman from Srinagar.
“I remember quoting lines from her songs to win my life partner’s heart,” Mubashir says. “Lata Mangeshkar was the reigning melody queen whose songs gave expression to our feelings.”
Amid these reminiscences, here’re the five songs by the late lead-singer that became her Kashmir tunes:
- Bekhudi Me Sanam
Sung by the prominent-pair of Rafi and Lata, this classic song from the 1968 movie, Haseena Maan Jayegi became anthem back then. Filmed on Babita and Shashi Kapoor, the song is still striking a chord with masses for its poetry, melody and vocals. The Kashmir setting of sixties is only uplifting its visual appeal.
- Bedardi Balma Tujhko
With this iconic song, Lata Mangeshkar cemented her place as the “melody queen” for Kashmiri music connoisseurs. Here, she sings a lover’s pining heart for her lost love. Sadhna’s graceful acting, Kashmir’s striking autumn and Lata’s spellbinding vocals are still making listeners to drool over this song.
- Yeh Sama, Sama Hai Ye Pyar Ka
In this Kashmir melody, Lata lends her voice to Nanda as Shashi Kapoor playing a Shikarawalla acts a hypnotized host. The 1965-ballad from the movie Jab Jab Phool Khile remains one of her popular songs for any Kashmir-based film. Here, again, the nightingale sings a lover’s heart.
- Husn Pahadon Ka Kya Kehna
In this pre-90 melody, Mandakini and Rajiv Kapoor can be seen singing paeans of Kashmir’s fascinating mountains and the meditative life. Lata’s elevating voice details the serene picture of the valley that once existed with near perfection.
- Mere Yaar Shabba Khair
Among her trove of tunes that she sang for the movies shot in Kashmir, this ageless number is living up to the moment — giving a farewell to the nightingale of the Hindi cinema.
- Hailing from Pulwama, Sheeba Wani is pursuing Masters in Music from Delhi. She can be reached at [email protected].
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