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Lata Mangeshkar Birthday Interview

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“Please Stop Hating One Another.”…. As Lata Mangeshkar Completes 92 She Feels A Wave Of Sorrow About What Is Happening In The Country

Another year, another birthday, Didi, how do you feel?

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Main aapko sach bataoon? Main andar se dukhi hoon. There is so much division in the country. People are getting more and more into, ‘Main Hindu hoon woh mussalmaan hai’. This climate of suspicion and hostility must stop. I had hoped and prayed that this kind of divisive atmosphere would have long ago ended. But I am sorry to say it’s getting worse. People are killing one another in the name of religion.

The one factor that unifies all Indians is your voice?

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That is music to my ears. Believe me, when you say this I feel very humbled. At the risk of sounding immodest…

You and immodest? Impossible!

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(laughs) Nahin mujhe bolne dijiye. I feel I’ve received more love and respect than anyone else in this country. Indians everywhere love me. They react with strong affection at the very mention of my name. And this has been the scenario for more than 75 years of my life.

It’s because you have given us so much joy with your songs. More so now in these dark desperate times of Corona?

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These are indeed terrible times. Logon ne ek doosre se milna bandd ka diya. In our home every year from my childhood we have had Ganesh Chaturthi for ten days. This year we had to bid adieu to Ganpati Bappa in one-and-a-half days. One can’t breathe properly because of the masks, let alone sing. Waise bhi logon ka milna-julna kamm ho gaya tha. Corona ne toh khatm kar diya (social interaction had reduced even before Corona. This pandemic has killed it).

I’ve seen and heard you interact with the biggest of politicians and the smallest of fans your attitude and tone remain the same?

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This is what my father and my mother taught me. I don’t pretend to be humble. I truly feel I am a spec in the universe. What right do I have to discriminate between two human beings?

I think some of our entertainers need to learn humility from you?

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I have known you for 25 years. I’ve always treated you like my younger brother. But let me tell you, I am very clear in my likes and dislikes. If I don’t like somebody I’d say it in his or her face.

Didi, when do you plan to return to active singing?

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I do plan to sing again very soon. Well-wishers and dear ones like you have been urging me to return to singing. But this pandemic has made it difficult for me to venture out for anything. Aap sochiye ke mere liye kitna mushqil hai gaane se door rehna (think of how difficult it is for me to stay away from singing).

What do you have to say about the new generations of singers who seek inspiration from you?

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I will not lie. I don’t know what the singers today are doing. I listened to the voices like Alka Yagnik which came earlier. But now, from what I hear the young singers sing a lot of the song by me and Asha (Bhosle). If they are not being original, it is because they are not being allowed to be original. I don’t know what the music of today sounds like. But there must be something amiss. Why else would people still listen to the compositions of Shankar-Jaikishan, Madan Mohan and R D Burman?

What is your message to your fans and bhakts on this birthday?

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Think like an Indian, Not as a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian or a Parsi. We come from a land of great cultural and philosophical knowledge. From Ramkrishna Paramhansa to Swami Vivekananda, our land is filled with truly learned and knowledgeable thinkers. There is so much to learn from them. I consider myself very very fortunate to be born in this great country. If I had a chance to be reborn, I would want to born only as an Indian again.

We wouldn’t allow you to be born anywhere else Didi. Tell me, how does it feel to be so universally loved .The great classical vocalist Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan once famously said….

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(Lataji interrupts) He said, ‘Kambhakt kabhi besuri nahin gaati’.

So this myth is true?

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Absolutely true. Aap dekhiye uss ek shabd ‘Kambakht’ mein kitna pyar hai. Itna pyar mujhe mila. Mujhe aur kuch nahin chahiye (just how much affection there was in that one word).

Every singer envies Lata Mangeshkar. Is there anyone you envy?

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No one . No one at all. I consider myself blessed. People at my age are either gone, bed-ridden or confined to a wheelchair. By the grace of God, the blessings of my parents and the love of my well-wishers I am still here, still thinking , talking to you.

I can’t imagine a world without you?

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It will be the same. Nothing stops for anyone.

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Pathaan Collects 55 crore nett in India On Day 1

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Pathaan

YRF’s Pathaan has apparently wiped out all previous records as it collected 55 crore nett in India and recorded the biggest ever Day 1 for a Hindi film. The total collections of Pathaan on Day One is 57 crore nett (Hindi – 55 crore and dubbed versions 2 crore).

It is the widest Hindi release of  all  time in India and also the highest grossing 1st Day for a   Hindi film.It is  also the  highest grosser  on the  first first for a  non-holiday release. Pathhan is  also the highest  opener for Shah Rukh Khan.

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Akshaye Widhani, CEO of Yash Raj Films, says, “It is a historic day for Indian cinema and we are humbled to see the love and appreciation that is flowing for Pathaan globally. For Pathaan to shatter records in this fashion on a non holiday, just proves that the theatrical business is here to stay, provided we make films that entice people to come to the cinemas to witness a never seen before experience that entertains them thoroughly.“

He adds, “We, at YRF, are thrilled with the start that the film has got across India and we are hopeful that Pathaan brings joy to cine-goers globally in the days to come! Pathaan is the fourth film of our YRF Spy Universe and we are thrilled that we have been able to elevate the cinematic experience of audiences with each film from this franchise. We humbly share this moment with all the stake-holders of the film who have given their blood, sweat and tears to give people a movie-going experience like never before.”

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“Professionally, What  A Year It Has Been For Me,” Raveena Tandon On Her Padma Shri

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Raveena Tandon

Raveena Tandon  feels  she is in a dream. “I woke  up  today to the  news that  I have been awarded the Padma Shri by  my Government. I felt all my years  of hard work  has  finally come to  fruition.I can’t wait to get  back to Mumbai.”

Raveena  is  in Bhopal attending a  wedding.  “I woke  up  on Thursday morning to the good news. My husband(film distributor Anil Thadani) who is in Mumbai had no clue about it. I had to inform him that his wife is now Padma Sri Raveena,” she laughs heartily.

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She then grows  melancholic. “The past one year has been a whirlwind  for me. Professionally, it couldn’t get any better. My webseries Aranyak on Netflix  and  then the bigscreen  blockbuster KGF 2 where I played one of the protagonists , became huge  successes.Sadly,it  was  also the year that  I lost my father(well-known producer-director Ravi Tandon). It was  the severest blow of my life.I am still processing the loss. The Padma Shri would have made  my Dad so proud.”

Remind her  she is  still young and already a Padma winner and Raveena expresses  her  happiness. “I guess I am lucky to have received the honour at the  midpoint of my life and career. I am also very happy that M M  Keeravani Sir has  also received the Padma Shri.His Naatu naatu has  the  world dancing to his tune. But even  before Naatu naatu he has done such exemplary work.”

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Getting nostalgic Raveena  says, “I started working when I was 17.I have done every kind of  cinema, balancing out a Chote Miyan  Bade Miya  with  a Shool, a Rakshak with a  Ghulam-e-Mustafa,  a Bulundi and a Khauff with a Daman and an Aks. It’s  always been  my endeavour to be be seen in escapism and  real cinema. Some people think dancing around trees  and  doing the masala  stuff is easy.  It is  not!  In fact  being real on screen is far easier.”

Raveena feels the  good days  are  back in the entertainment  industry. “I saw Pathaan and  I whistled  and clapped the loudest. It is  an out-and-out mass entertainer and bound to revive the  sagging fortunes  of  our industry.  While the Padma Shri is a personal triumph,  the success of Pathaan  is  a happy occasion for the entire industry.So yeah, I am on top of  the world,”

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Raveena’s fans  would like to know her khubsoorati  ka raaz.

She  laughs, “It’s nothing more than sleeping and eating right. I  try to eat  correctly. I have only  organic  food. More  importantly,I am happy and secure in life. If you are content within it is  bound show on your face.”

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5 Most Relevant Patriotic Songs

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 Ae mere watan  ke logon

  1.  Ae mere watan  ke logon:  Lataji  speaks on  the most beloved  patriotic   song  of the  country: “Kissko pataa tha yeh gaana logon ko itna pasand ayega?(who knew the song would be so much liked by people?).When Ae mere watan ke logon was being created we never thought it would become such an imperishable patriotic anthem.I recall vividly that cold winter evening in Delhi when I sang the song as part of the Republic Day celebrations in front of an audience that comprised President S. Radhakrishnan, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and so many other distinguished guests. It was Pradeepji,the poet who wrote the immortal lyrics , who came to me and asked me to sing the song. I declined because there was no time to rehearse and prepare to sing it in front of so many distinguished personalities.You see,at that time I was working round-the-clock. To give special attention to one song seemed impossible.We had very little time to get Ae mere watan ke logon ready.Rather than do a rush job I wanted to opt out. But Pradeepji said if I don’t sing Ae mere watan ke logon he would scrap the idea. I agreed. But I suggested we format  the song into a duet with me and Asha. But Pradeepji wanted it to be a solo.I insisted that we do it as a duet.In fact Asha had even rehearsed for  the song. But then days before we were to fly to Delhi she came to me and said, ‘Didi. I’m not coming to Delhi.’ I tried to convince her to change her mind arguing that her name had even been printed in the newspapers as one of the singers for Ae mere watan. But she was adamant.I told composer-singer Hemant Kumar who had actually orchestrated the whole Ae mere watan ke logon project about Asha’s decision to not accompany us to Delhi to perform the song. Hemantda also tried to convince Asha. Lekin woh nahin manee. Then it was left to me to rehearse alone for the song.Pradeepji told C Ramachandra who was composing the tune for Pradeepji’s words,about my predicament. C, Ramachandra informed us he had to be in Delhi at least 4-5 days in advance before our performance. So he was unable to rehearse  the song with me. Instead he gave me a tape of the number.I picked up the tune from the tape and flew to Delhi on 26 January with all the big names from the film industry. Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Mehboob Khan, Shankar-Jaikishan, Madan Mohan…we were all in one aircraft. I was listening to the tape with  C Ramachandraji’s rendition of Ae mere watan ke logon all through the flight from Mumbai to Delhi.I was accompanied by my best friend Nalini Mhatre.When we reached Delhi in the night I had a stomach ache. I asked Nalini how I’d sing in my condition. She told me not worry, everything would be fine.On 27 January we reached the venue. I sang two songs. The Bhajan Allah tero naam followed by Ae mere watan ke logon. I was much relieved to get it over with.After I finished my two songs, I went backstage to relax with a  cup of coffee unaware what an enduring impact the song had created. Suddenly I heard Mehboob Khan Saab calling for me.He caught hold of my hand and said, ‘Chalo, Panditji(Jawaharlal Nehru) ne bulaya hai’. I wondered why he wanted to see me.When I went out everyone including Panditji, his daughter Indiraji, Radhakrishnanji stood up courteously to greet me. Mehboob Khan Saab said, ‘Yeh rehi hamari Lata.Aapko kaisa laga usska gaana?’  Panditji said, “Bahut achcha . Mere aankhon mein paani aa gaya’.  They all complimented me. Then we were all invited to Panditji’s  home for tea.Some of us from the film industry including Shankar-Jaikishan, Raj Kapoor, Mehboob Khan, Dilip Kumar proceeded to Panditji’s residence. While the rest of the entourage spoke eagerly with Panditji I stood in a dark corner by the corner hesitant to make my presence felt. Suddenly I heard Panditji say, ‘Lata kaha hai?’. I kept standing where I was. Then Mrs Indira Gandhi came and took my hands saying, ‘I want you to meet two of your little fans.’ She introduced me to little Rajiv and Sanjay Gandhi. They did Namaste and ran away.Then Panditji again asked for me. Mehboob Khan Saab came and took me near Panditji . Panditji asked, ‘Are you going to go back to Mumbai and sing Ae mere watan ke logon?’  I replied, ‘No, it was meant to be a one-off thing’. He wanted a picture with me. We posed for a keepsake and then I quietly left .I had to rush back because it was my sister Meena’s wedding in Kolhapur. When I returned to Mumbai the next day with my friend Nalini I had no idea that Ae mere watan ke logon had already become a rage. When we reached Mumbai the city and the media were buzzing with the impact that the song had made in Delhi, how Panditji broke down,  etc, etc. I attended a film premiere for a Marathi film where I had composed the music and the following day left for Kolhapur for my sister’s wedding .Away in Kolhapur I had no idea that the song was taking over the nation’s psyche. Who was to know that the song composed for a Republic Day function would have such an enduring impact? Only Pradeepji had faith in the song. He had prophesied to me, ‘Lata, tum dekhna yeh gaana bahot chalega. Log hamesha ke liye issey yaad  rakhenge.’ I didn’t take it that seriously.Since it was not part of a film I thought it would have a limited impact.Ae mere watan ke logon became my signature tune. No show of mine, no concert or event is complete until I sing Ae mere watan ke logon.I give full credit to Pradeepji for writing such powerful words. He wrote words that reverberated across the nation. We had just come out of a war defeat with China. Ae mere watan ke logon triggered emotions of great patriotic pride in every Indian.My regret is that Pradeepji had not been called for the Republic Day function where I sang the song to immortality.If he was there he would have seen with his own eyes what impact Ae mere want ke logon had created.”
  2. Kar chale hum fida  jaan-o-tann saathiyon(Haqeeqat): Kaifi Azmi wrote this   song for  the  soldiers  who lost their lives in the 1962  Indo-Chinese war. Jiyo Kaifi Azmi. Jiyo Madan Mohan. Jiyo Mohd Rafi! Haqeeqat director  Chetan Anand wanted  a  patriotic song  that  mankind would  remember  forever.He got it. Mohd Rafi poured his soul into this paean to patriotism written by Kaifi Azmi for Chetan Anand’s war film Haqeeqat. The long song is still so strong on sentiments, it moves listeners to tears every time.Madan Mohan loved composing desh bhakti songs. His other Rafi salaam to the nation was Meri awaaz suno in the film Naunihal composed when Pandit Jawharlal Nehru passed away.Says Kafi Saab’s daughter Shabana Azmi, “It is my favourite patriotic song. Kar chale hum fida jaan-o-tan saathiyon is the most definitive of all the patriotic songs. It gives me gooseflesh every time I hear it.My father  and Chetan Anand were  part of the same  likeminded  circle of friends . They believed  cinema  could change  society.”
  3. Mere desh ki dharti (Upkar): Manoj Kumar who directed and starred un Upkar recalls, “Meri desh ki dharti (‘Upkar’) happened when lyricist Gulshan Bawra  and  I  gone to a shrine to pay our respects. When we returned from the shrine in the car, Gulshan  was singing Mere desh ki dharti sona ugley… jawanon bhar bhar lo jholiyan… khushi se bolo boliyan?. I kept quiet as he hummed these lyrics.Two-three years later when I made Upkar, I went to music composer Kalyanji and narrated the script. I called Gulshan home and told him the situation. I recalled the lyrics I had heard him hum near the shrine?. It had stayed in my mind? I saw it as a great idea that needed to be improvised.But I didn’t like the lines Jawanon bhar lo jholiyan, khushi se bolo boliyan.I removed it from my Upkar song. Instead we had Meri desh ki dharti sona ugley ugle heere-moti. Both Kalyanji and Gulshan were hesitant. They said the ‘mukhda’ of a song couldn’t be of one line. But I was adamant.An hour later Gulshan, who was sitting in the next room jumped and said, ‘This is great’. Every filmmaker while writing a screenplay comes to a landmark point in the plot where he thinks a scene can be narrated musically. That situation is given to the lyricist and explained. That was how ‘Mere desh ki dharti’ happened.I always had the lyrics first, then the tunes. Gulshan had written another song Har khushi hai wahan in Upkar. He couldn’t write the whole song because he had to take my brother to  college in Ajmer. Gulshan himself told the media that the second stanza of Har khushi hai wahan was written by Aziz Kaifi and Manoj Kumar. Gulshan Bawra and I   were from the same village near Lahore (now in Pakistan). My chief assistant Sikandar was Gulshan’s cousin. So we bonded much beyond cinema. Filmmaker Kewal Sharma, cricket player Manmohan Sood, Gushan and I? we were good friends. Gulshan has only gone away physically. He was a wonderful man. He was a friend to everyone, never gossiped.,” Manoj Kumar recalled.Concludes Manoj, “Gulshan  Bawra  alive in every word of Mere desh ki dharti.That song is imperishable. When Mahendra Kapoor-ji, who sang Mere desh ki dharti, expired our former  prime minister Manmohan Singh said he would always be remembered for Mere desh ki dharti. It hurts to know so many people connected with that song – Kalyanji, Mahendra Kapoor and Gulshan Bawra – are no more.”
  4. Jo samar mein ho gaye amar(non-film) : Every Indian knows Lataji’s Ae mere watan ke logon. How many know this equally beautiful peerless paean to patriotism composed by the great and underrated Jaidev? Jo samar mein ho gaye amar , written by Narendra Sharma , one of the most favourite poet-lyricists of Lataji,is a profoundly moving tribute to our soldiers who give up their lived to keep us safe. Narendra Sharma writes, “Laut kar na aayenge vijay dilane wale veer/Mere geet anjali mein unke liye nayan neer..” Wah! Lataji sings the words with emotions that cannot be gauged in words. In my opinion, this is a superior patriotic number than the rightly celebrated Ae mere watan ke logon.Why? Because the words are sharper and more devastating. The tune to this non-film song is exceptionally elegant. And Lataji has seldom sounded better.There is one more reason why this immortal Jaidev  number  is exceptionally special.Both  the illustrious Mangeshkar  sisters Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle have  sung separate versions of  the same Jaidev composition. Take your pick.\
  5. Mere  Dushman Mere Bhai(Border): J. P. Dutta’s post-glasnost song of Indo-Pak unity sung with immense affection and anguish by Hariharan had Anu Malik pulling out all stops to create the perfect tune for Javed Akhtar’s outstanding poetry on across-the-border brotherhood.Says JP, “It wasn’t easy writing a song in Border that pleaded for sanity and amity between the two countries at a time when politicians were baying for blood. But I believe we needed a voice of sanity.  I certainly didn’t project anti-Pakistan sentiments in Border. The film was born out of my anguished comprehension of a complicated and tangled relationship between India and Pakistan. We’re brothers and yet we’re enemies.”
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Salman-Shah Rukh’s Hilarious Take On The Khan Hegemony

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Shah Rukh-Salman

One of  the highlights of watching Pathaan is to see and hear Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan discussing their  dominance  at the top of  the game  for what seems like a very long time.

 They admit to one another that they are  boneweary. But they  also admit that there is little  they can do to change the status quo ,because  there  is no one else to take over from them.

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“What about that one?”  Salman asks  SRK without naming anyone.

“What  about the other one?” asks Shah Rukh.

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Then they  both sigh and shake their heads  in the negative.

The  entire end-credits  exchange between  the two Khan  superstars in Pathaan  has taken the film industry  and the  audience aback.

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 Upon discreet inquiries on how that this ‘Tiger-Pathaan’ conversation  was incepted, it is revealed  that the  idea of  a self-deprecatory  conversation on their  longevous  stint  was producer Aditya Chopra’s  idea.

“He just wanted to make  a point, that  the Khans have their own untouchable place in the  film industry. The  younger actors  are  doing their own thing. But Salman-Shah Rukh-Aamir  are  in  a league of their own. Pathaan proves it,” says a source in the know.

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