1. Barse ghan saari raat…sangg sow jao(Tarang): The immensely gifed composer Vanraj Bhatia created only one song for Lataji for Kumar Shahani’s experimental film Tarang…and what a song….a long narrative number describing a deserted wife’s desolation Sangg sow jao is among Lataji’s most complex songs rendered by her with an easy fluidity that only she knows how to impart to songs.Sadly this unbelievably beautiful song isn’t unavailable on any format.
2. Chhod mera haath mujhe peene de(subha-o-Sham) : A whole precious treasury of Lataji’s drunken songs exists.And there you have such masterly melodies of tipsiness as Sharaabi sharaabi mera naam ho gaya(Chandan Ka Palna), Kaise rahun chup(Inteqaam) and Haan jee haan maine sharaab pee hai(Seeta Aur Geeta). Chhod mera hath is from a film called Subah-o-Shaam where a sozzled Waheeda Rehman dances and stumbles to a sound so divine it invites you to give up the thought of giving up alcohol.An amazing unknown Laxmikant-Pyarelal composition.
3. O ganga maiyya paar lagaade mere sapnon ki naiyya(Chandan Ka Palna): An absolute gem from one of Meena Kumari’s last film Chandan Ka Palna and one of R D Burman’s first scores. It is an achingly tender melody about a woman’s craving for a child.
4. Aa meri jaan main khadi hoon yahan(Goonj): Lataji could be anything from the wannabe mother to the wandering spirit….With Rahul Dev Burman again, this one is a haunting bewitchingly beautifully crafted number from a long-forgotten 1974 film Goonj that gnaws at our soul and penetrates into our hearts.
5. Daiyya re daiya yashoda maiya issko sambhaal bada nakhtat hai tero nandal(Aasra): Playful, mischievous, flirtatious and fabulous…this Laxmikant-Pyarelal composition from the film Aasra deserves a place among the Nightingale’s most nubile numbers.
6. Jab yaad kissiki aati hai(title song): So great. You know Madan Mohan and Lataji’s combination for songs like Lag jaa gale se and Hum hain mataye kucha-o-bazaar ki terah. What about something like the title songs from this Mala Sinha starrer? It’s sinful to ignore it. Do ignore that lengthy opening musical dance piece that accompanies the number,though.
7. Main iss paar khadi yeh sochoon kya uss paar na jaane(Sharafat): Ah! Heaven on earth. A song about Nature and its mysteries spun into a mysterious melody by Laxmikant-Pyarelal and sung by Asia’s most precious voice as though there’s no tomorrow.Don’t look for paradise anywhere else.
8. Jaa re jaa maine tujhe jaan liya re(Raja Rani): In the Rajesh Khanna-Sharmila Tagore starrer Raja-Rani R.D Burman had composed quite a few chartbusters. No one knows this amazing Mujra sung with an incredibly layered skill and suppleness. Try to find it on the internet and just….float with that divine voice.
9. Mujhe pyar karne ka haq nahin(Darpan): A lumimous lament of a Fallen Woman in the Waheeda Rehman film Darpan sung in a tone that breaks your heart over and over again as Lataji goes from stanza to stanza of tragic self-negation. Laxmikant-Pyarelal, take a bow.
10. Wohjo auron ki khaatir jiye mar-mite sochti hoon unhein kya mila(Aaina): Naushad in the Mumtaz starrer Aaina in an undiscovered gem of a song about a woman who sacrifices her entire life for her family only to wonder…what did I get in return?
11. Jo dard diya tumne geeton mein piro lenge: Ravindra Jain’s unreleased song is an absolute classic and one of Lataji’s jewel in the croon, uncelebrated because it did not get a parent movie. Jain had the tune with him for years . He was so possessive about the song that he would sing it in his own voice and not allow any other singer to touch it. Except of course Lataji.
12. Kanha bole na(Sangat): Lataji always brought out the best in the great composer Salil Chowdhary . In Basu Bhattacharya’s unknown film Sangat Lataji sang two absolute gems Balma mora achra and Kanha bole na , both duets with Manna Dey, both attaining an acme of excellence in her voice.I picked Kanhna bole na because ….well because .