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As Kamal Amrohi’s Classic Mahal Gets Re-released On July 27 We Revisit The Film’s Iconic Song Aayega Aanewala



Civilization,  including Lata  Mangeshkar herself ,considers Aayega aanewala  from the film Mahal to be a turningpoint  in Lataji’s career.

1949 is regarded as Lata’s breakthrough year. She had chartbusters   in the  films  Barsaat,Andaz, Badi  Bahen, Bazaar, Lahore  and Mahal to  her credit that  year and  had    literally wiped out all competition.

Lataji’s  favourite song of the year from her ravishing  repertoire  was Khemchand   Prakash’s  chart-buster Aayega  aanewala  from Mahal.

In an  exclusive  conversation with me  Lataji had exulted. “Finally, I  was singing  for Khemchand Prakash.   The tune for Aayega aanewala  had been chosen out of  many  that Khemchand Saab had  composed,  and we had  several rehearsals. The producer  of Mahal, leading man  Ashok Kumar and  its director  Kamal Amrohi were present at  the recording.I was told in detail about the significance of the song.The number had  to sound as if it  was closing in gradually from distance , as though  someone was walking  and singing. The  recording was done  in a  huge studio. I was made to stand in  a corner of the  hall with the mike  placed in the centre. I inched  my way  to the  mike singing  the famous prelude, Khamosh  hai zamana …  The recording  went on all day  until we had a perfect take.The  idea of  calling melodies  like  Aayega  aanewala  `haunting  melodies’  was mine. I presented the concept on stage for the first time in 1962.”

Lataji  recalled her relationship with Madhubala who ghost-voiced Aayega aanewala  with much fondness. “During those days playback singers were called ‘ghost voices’ because we really were like ghosts,totally invisible to the public. Even my name was not printed on the records. It was the name of the character that the heroine played which was printed on the record. In the song Ayega aanewala for Mahal the name on the record was “Kamini” which was Madhubala’s name in the film.”

After  Mahal, Madhubala  and Lataji became friends and  collaborators.

Recalled  Lataji, “Madhubala stipulated in  her contracts that she wanted only me to do her  playback singing.  This was after the success of Aayega aanewala  in  Mahal, though I had sung for her earlier….During those days we  would  meet socially quite often. That kind  of  camaraderie  no longer exists. ..Madhubala mujhe bahut  pyar se milti thi(Madhubala  met me with a  lot of affection).”

1949 was a decisive year for  Lataji. “Every film I sang for was a superhit. There was  no looking back after that…Later Madhubala fell ill. But she continued to work. In fact she performed to  some of my best songs in Mughal-e-Azam while she was  terribly ill.  I didn’t meet her as often as I met Nargis.”

Kamal Amrohi’s son Tajdar Amrohi recalls how  special the  song and Lataji were to his father. “Aayega aanewala was  a turning  point  in Lataji’s  career. Prior to that she was  the  rising  voice. After Aayega aanewala  she wiped out all competition. During the recording of this historic song Baba(father Kamal Amrohi) was spellbound by Latajis’s voice. However he had some reservations which he  frankly shared with Lataji. ‘Beta—that’s what he called Lataji—you’ve sung it beautifully. But there is one thing that you need to polish up.’ Lataji who called my father Baba said, ‘Boliye na, Baba’  My father  told her very frankly that her Urdu needed  brushing  up.Lataji took it as a challenge . From that day to her  last breath her pronunciation was flawless. She  was my father’s chosen voice for the heroine  in all his films. Look at the  breathtaking  songs she sang in my father’s films: Aayega  aanewala(Mahal),Inhi logon ne, Thade rahiyo and Chalte chalte (Pakeezah), Apne  aap raaton mein and Aap yun faaslon se guzrate rahen(Shankar Hussain), Ajeeb dastaan hai yeh(Dil Apne Aur Preet Parayi) ,Ae dil-e-nadaan(Razia Sultan)…Baba  insisted no one but Lataji will sing for my Choti Ammi(Meena  Kumari).”


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