The living legend Lata Mangeshkar was acknowledged by the Queen crooner Freddie Mercury as his biggest inspiration for singing. In fact Freddie was fascinated by Lataji’s celebrated 3-octave high-pitched renditions and he often used that style for his ‘falsetto’ rendering of the opera-styled ballads that made him an iconic rocker.
Lataji is aware of Mercury’s majestic affinity to the Melody Queen’s singing. But she fails to understand why the high-pitched rendition fascinated artistes like Freddie so much.
“People won’t believe this. But I never liked singing at that high pitch. I don’t know whether I should call it my good fortune. But composers loved to have me sing at an impossibly high pitch. When I protested they’d say that the high-pitched compositions were only possible because I was there to sing them.So it became a kind of responsibility for me to carry those steep notes.”
She specially singles out Shankar-Jaikishan for transporting her incredible vocal chords into areas of expression that are traditionally considered impossible for female singers. “I remember how pleased Shankar and Jaikishanwere when I sang the summit scales in Ajee rooth kar abb kahan jayeyiga(Aarzoo) and Ehsaan tera hoga mujhpar(Junglee). But only I know how difficult it was for me to negotiate those high notes. My face had gone red while I attempted them.”
Freddie Mercury would have applauded Lataji’s endeavour to cross over to the highest pinnacles of the musical notes, just as he did in his most celebrated ballads like Bohemian Rhapsody.
“It’s good to know that my voice inspired artistes like him. But I wouldn’t advise any singer to attempt such high notes,” cautions Lataji