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Lalit Pandit Exclusively On His Association With Lataji



Lalit Pandit with Lata Mangheshkar

Lalit  Pandit one-half  of the  Jatin-Lalit duo  recalls his  association with  Lataji with  tremendous warmth and  gratitude.  “Today is Maa Saraswati Lata Didi’s birth anniversary.Even though one realises she is no more with us it does feel she is all around us as her voice resonates and seems to follow us wherever we are.The recent days of the  Ganpati festival she and her voice were all around town in Mumbai as her songs were being played at housing societies ,streets and wherever Ganpati was being celebrated.”

   Like  everyone who  knew her personally,  Lalit feels blessed . “Lataji  compels  you to think about  the few lucky ones who have had the chance to be close to her and have interacted with her and know her a little .She was an extraordinary  humanbeing and her life was an extraordinary journey.Yet she  surprised  me by  revealing that   given a chance again she wouldn’t want to be born as Lata Mangeshkar!!It’s unimaginable that a person who is worshipped in our country and the world over felt that her life was not what she would want!Indeed she has seen a hard struggle  in her earlier days after the passing away of her father Pandit Dinanathji!It was on Lataji’s frail shoulders that the Mangeshkar  family had to depend.”

 Lalit feels  blessed to have known Lataji  and to have  had the pleasure and opportunity of being in  her company. “My earliest vision and memory of her is during the Film Centre studios recordings.It was for me a little scary as a song would be getting readied for recording and Jatin and  I  would as children be rehearsing to sing parts of it with Lataji and Kishore Kumar.Kishore Da, I had seen perform many times with Sulakshana Didi so that wasn’t scary as I know him personally.But  Lataji was a different story.Because we could glimpse her only during certain songs.She was a vision.I and my brother and two sisters(Vijayta and Sandhya)were regular children chorus section with Panchamda(RD)  and  SD Burman dada in many songs during those days.”

As a child Lalit remembers  seeing Lataji recording songs. “I remember  seeing Lata Didi sitting and sometimes being surrounded by female chorus sections and talking to them while rehearsal of musicians would go on .She seemed to laugh and  enjoy herself  with whomever she would be interacting.I knew by then that she was a great singer but I was at that time only interested to have the song done and get back to playing .Since I was the youngest in the group and I couldn’t read Hindi,I was made to the lines by-heart which I was quick to do . I remember hoping  for  one thing during the recording which was a regular feature during my childhood recordings .That  Lata Didi would order icecream  for all singing children and that would feel wonderful !!”

Flash-forward  to his  adulthood and Lalit  recalls, “After I became a composer we met again of course.It was amazing how for me life would turn and I got connected with Didi again as a music director and she  the greatest singer ever !of course my awareness and knowledge about her by now was immense as I grew up listening to Lata didi and was always a fan of her voice and singing.It was a tremendous day when I had her for the first song she sang with us!It was actually a song we were doing for a Dev Anand film .This was our first meeting since my chorus singing days during childhood.”

  Lalit recalls  every detail of his  first recording with Lataji. “:t was again a stressful day at Bombay Lab studio where the song was to be recorded.I was worried about how I was going  to get through the day with Didi.As she walked in to the studio with a white purse and in a white saree and after Dev Saab gave her a big hug we went and did her greetings as always it was to be by touching her feet !!She was very gentle and had a great smile.Also later I would learn she had a great memory and remembered everything!She had by now connected that I was the same small child who sang a few songs with her and now was a composer.This I gathered when we sat together for her to learn the song and rehearse with me.She could understand my nervousness as I sang the song to her and she slowly and softly sang along.It was a great moment in life as I realised what was happening and that I had the dream-voice singing our song. Lata Didi surprised me by asking how everyone was  at home and about asked each one by  their names! She knew the whole family well .I asked her how did she knew my eldest sister and eldest brother so well?She said , “Tumhare Pitaji ghar aate they sab ke saath aur hum gana sunte they unka aur woh mere bhai Hridaynathji ko sikhate the.I don’t remember this but she also said I used to visit her  home  as a child. I don’t remember this but both Asha Didi and Lata Didi remember this very well.After this it was just talking and talking and we connected very well for ever I feel!I knew she knew the family well and was very happy to sing our songs and I would always look forward to having her sing our songs and our next interactions with her!”

Next came the   historic songs of   Aditya Chopra’s  Dilwale  Dulhaniya  Le Jayenge. “Of course next  was  DDLJ where she sang the songs for a full film for us Both me and Jatin were aware of the responsibility bestowed on us for this great film for a dream banner!We wanted to do our very best as we would be having Lataji sing all songs for this film .We as composers had our dream to make our mark with Lataji singing our very best.Lataji too I feel had a notion that this was going to be something special .Those  were  the  days of regular talking to Didi on the  phone  and we would discuss the song and discuss the scale(sur) for the song,  etc.Then on the day of her singing  we would have a full day recording her voice of which almost all day of talking eating and hearing Didi and then eventually she would say, ‘Chalo kuch kaam nahin karna hai kya??’ .Yashji, his wife Pamji and Lata didi had a great relationship .But even Yashji was surprised to see how much  Didi loved us and spoke long hours to us about Pitaji and Sulakshana and others back at home.It was all fun and I knew these were great days and moments of life happening!!!Lataji on the final song of  DDLJ  heard the whole music score that had been done!One could see she loved the songs and said ‘Achha kaam hua hai!!’. I at that point didn’t realise ke kitna achchha hua hai!but after the release of the music and its huge success it was just indeed a great feeling to hear that DDLJ  was being credited as  among Lata Mangeshkar’s  greatest hits!!So we did make a mark with Didi as was planned by us .Later we did a lot of work with Didi whenever an opportunity showed !And everytime was an experience.Didi never refused to work with us !she had the confidence  that the song would be nice if I would call her asking  to sing.”

     Lalit gets emotional  speaking of the  singing Goddess. She had a tremendous heart and she was  a very loving person .Her niece(Meenatai’s daughter Rachana)became my very  good friend during the days of Lataji’s recording and we still are!Another film score of Jatin-Lalit that Lata Didi loved was  Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai  produced by Ramesh Taurani who had a dream to have the same team as DDLJ  , and  with this film too we had a tremendous music score in all songs.Lataji sang in her last decade of singing the most for Jatin-Lalit  and we  feel blessed. She was an artist with endless capabilities and I learnt a lot from her and enjoyed every moment of my being with her.She would call me on my birthdays and was extremely loving!She always mentioned our names  among the good contemporary composers!It feels sad to realise that she is no longer physically  with us.But she will live on and will be inspirational always for many future generations to come.”

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