Rachana Shah is not only Lata Mangeshkar’s favourite niece but also her closest buddy, privy to all of the Nightingale’s most confidential anecdotes and experiences.
Rachana has gotten together with veteran concerts organizer MohanDeora to pen an extremely readable account on an aspect of Lataji’s virtuosity that has not so far been discussed at length: her immense achievement as a live performer on stage.
Entitled On Stage With Lata(HarperCollins) the book illuminates LataMangeshkar as a live performer of indomitable resources and unquestionable meticulousness.
Speaking on the book and its genesis Rachana Shah says, “We know her as the LATA MANGESHKAR ,the playback singer. But how many of her fans and admirers know that she took Indian entertainers and their live concerts to a new level? Before she began performing on stage abroad, Indian artistes had to peform at community halls and school grounds. When Didi(that’s what Rachana calls her legendary aunt) agreed with much reluctance to perform in London the venue had to be the posh Royal Albert Hall where no artiste from the Indian entertainment industry had ever performed before.Thereafter she performed at the most prestigious auditoriums in the world.”
From then began Lataji’s incredible journey as a live performer. AndRachana was with her at all of them.
Recalling her association with Lataji with enormous fondnessRachana says, “I was just a young teenager when I first went to a concert with Lataji abroad. What I share with Didi is for me and her to know . It can’t be explained to the world.And I am not even going to try to explain it. She is not just my aunt. I am her best friend, confidante and most trusted ally.We share everything . Didi doesn’t hide anything from me. She is an open book to me.Hence this book…”
Rachana says the need to speak of Lataji’s achievement as a live performer came from Lataji’s concert organizer Mohan Deora. “Mohan Uncle has organized all of Didi’s concerts abroad from 1975 onwards in the USA, Canada, Fiji and the West Indies. He has so many incidents , anecdotes and rare pictures from these concerts. He just needed someone to put them all together. This is where I came in.”
The book contains some of the most precious moments from Lataji’s adventures abroad during concerts.
In 1976 tragedy struck a concert in Detroit when singer Mukesh,who accompanied Lataji to many of her concerts, died suddenly.
Says Rachana, “Didi had to deal with the crisis that was suddenly thrust on her. She had to pacify the audience,calm down the concert team, arrange for Mukesh Saab’s body to be flown back and she made a promise to the audience that she would return to complete the concert in Detroit, which she did.”
On Stage With Lata, edited by the redoubtable cinema historianNasreen Munni Kabeer is only the beginning for Rachana.
“I’ve so much to say about Didi that the world doesn’t know,” she promises.