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“The Tears Haven’t  Stopped  Flowing Since I Heard That Lataji Is No More,”  Mumtaz

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Mumtaz anfd Lataji

The  legendary Mumtaz who sang and danced  to some of  the Goddess’s most iconic songs like  Bindiya chamkegi, Jai jai shiv Shankar, Chal dariya mein  doob jaayen, Do ghunt  mujhe  bhi pilade,Sun champa sun tara  and Yeh kaun  aaj aaya mera dil  churane , is inconsolable.

Speaking from her home in London  Mumtaz says, “My tears  haven’t stopped  flowing  ever since I  heard  the  awful news. Lataji was  the voice of Hindi cinema. To imagine   cinema without her  is beyond me. I am  proud  to say she was  my voice in all my best songs.”

Mumtaz  then tells me  about her   proudest moments. “When Lataji said in an interview  that among all the heroines that she  sang for Saira Banu, Waheeda Rehman and Mumtaz were her favourites. Can  you imagine how  proud that made me? Waheedaji and Sairaji were top heroines  from  the  time they  entered the industry. But I struggled  from playing a junior artiste to a heroine in B-grade  films and then to the  top.”

Like  many of the  screen  legends Mumtaz  felt like  a trueblue star   only when  Lataji started   singing  for her. “It felt very special when she sang  Sanam tu bewafa  ke naam se in Khilona  and  Jaise Radha Ne Mala Japi Shyam Ki  in Tere Mere Sapne…I  felt  confident on screen when she sang for me.”

Mumtaz lights  up when talking  of the most iconic  song that Lataji sang for her . “Bindiya  chamkegi is  the song that  I am  most closely  identified with. What  a hit! Lataji  counted  it among her  favourites. She  performed  it live at every one of her  concerts. No concert  of hers would be complete  without two songs Ae mere watan  ke logon and Bindiya Chamkegi.”

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Mumtaz admits  she had no clue  Bindiya Chamegi would  turn out so special. “Mujhe laga  it’s a  bit  slow-paced for a dance  number. But who knows what  will become famous and what  not? Sab  Ooparwale aur public ke haath mein hain. Mujhe ek aur gana  jo Dharamji ke picture mein thi  bahot pasand hai(I love one more song  of Lataji in  a film I did with Dharamji).Main tere ishq mein marr na jaaon kahin in Loafer?  Dharamji loves that song too and another song in Loafer , Aaj mausam bada beimaan hai. When I had gone  to meet Dharamji  when I  was in India last month  he had asked me, ‘Mammo—that’s what he  affectionately calls me—tujhe yaad hai yeh gaane? Dharamji and Hemaji were very close  to Lataji.”

Mumtaz’s  association  with Lataji actually began  very early. “She was  an amazing  personality. I actually knew  her from  when I  was  5 years old. I lived with my mother and  the rest of my family in Walkeshwar, where Jackie Shroff also used  to live. Lataji  too lived in Walkeshwar with her family. We kids went  to her home  to  watch 16mm films. I’ve not forgotten her warmth. Now she’s gone. There will never be another Lataji.”

She  then  ends hopefully,  “ Lekin kya pataa, Bhagwan  ko hum pe taras aa jaye .Ek aur Lataji  waapas bhej den(But who knows  the Gods may take  pity on us and send another one like her).”