It seems India’s most distinguished voice is being smothered in satire.
Barely had we gotten over internet’s most infuriating ‘homage’ to Lata Mageshkar from the one and only Tanmay Bhatt than we now had a distinguished elitist gathering on intellectuals from various walks of life at the Jamshed Bhabha auditoriam in Mumbai last weekend, laughing their heads off as stand-up comedian Kunal Vijaykar did a take-off on Lataji.
Just a day earlier composer Vishal Dadlani was booked, cooked and smashed and hurled against the rocks for making a barbed comment on a religious guru. Then why are we silent when a religion is insulted? For millions of Indians across the world Lataji’s voice is a religious discipline. We Lata Bhakts belong to a sonorous sect. Our day begins with her voice and ends with it. Missing out on her singing is akin to us to skipping our prayers.
When you mimic Lataji you parody one of the cosmic marvels. Says Javed Akhtar a diehard Lata Bhakt, “It will take civilization thousands of years to figure out what her voice conveys and with what kind of precision. I remember meeting a music scholar Chaman Bharti in Bhopal. I asked him what he found so special about Lata Mangeshkar. He explained to me, ‘If you take a strand of hair and put it under a miscroscope there would be a center to that magnified view of the strand of hair. Surkitna bhi bareeq ho usska jo exact center hai wahan Lata Mangeshkar gaati hai.”
The poet compares Lataji to the greatest artistes of the world. “Sometimes I think people like Lataji, Ghalib, Beethoven and Shakespeare are far removed from the normal chain of human civilization . If they were just role models how come no one was able to achieve an iota of their perfection?They are intruders of civilization who come as reminders of the rule of mediocrity that prevails. Lataji belongs to a different league.”
Javed Saab recalls an illustrative anecdote about Lataji that truly defines the voice of India. “I’ll tell you an incident thatPandit Jasraj narrated to me.In the 1950s he was in Amritsar when he went to meet the classical genius Ustad BadeGhulam Ali Khan who was his God. When Pandit Jasraj got chatting Bade Ghulam Ali Saab suddenly told the young man to keep quiet. He heard the sound of the young Lata Mangeshkar singing Yeh zindagi usski ki hai from Anarkali. Bade GhulamAli Khan was enraptured. He finally said, ‘Kambhakt, kabhi besuri hoti hi nahin.’ That remark had the affection of a father and the envy of an artist.”
Adds Sanjay Leela Bhansali, “When you insult Lataji you insult the very ethos of our country. Her voice is that touchstone on which we measure our excellence and national pride.”
Lataji chooses to maintain a characteristic distance from all the mimicry and parodies of her voice. “Mujhe dukhiss baat ka nahin ki log meri nakal utaarte hain. Mujhe dukh iss baat ka hai ki woh apna waqt aise kaam meingawaa rahen jab ki hamare desh mein itni badi samasyayen hai. Kabhi woh twitter pe mujhe maar dete hain kabhiwoh Instagram pe mera parody banaate hain. Chalo,khush rahen.(I am not so sad about the fact that they mimic me as I am about the fact that they are wasting their time when there are so many problems plaguing our country.At times they kill me off in Twitter.At other times they parody me on Instagram. Hope it makes them happy).”