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When Lata Mangeshkar Almost Lost Her Voice

Meri awaaz hi pehchan hai…The  voice that has  defined beauty, harmony,grace and  humanism for millions  of  Indians for  over  seven decades  almost got stilled .

The  year was  1961 . By then Lataji had already become the  voice of  the nation, the  first choice for every heroine.  Top leading ladies like Nargis,Meena  Kumari,Madhubala, Nutan ,Vyjanthimala and Waheeda Rehman wanted no other voice.Many of them said so contractually.

Such  success  is  bound  to have its  share  of  animosity. Sure enough  Lataji’s voice began to trouble her to the  extent that recordings began to be  cancelled.  Though  she blamed it on  a  serious sinus  infection  the truth is, a lot of her  well-wishers  believe she  was  being slow-poisoned.

At this juncture composer-singer  Hemant  Kumar stepped  in with  the haunting Kahin deep jalekahin dil for  the  ghost story Bees Saal Baad.

Recalling the nightmarish  time Lataji said to me, “Many thought  it  was the  end for me. I just couldn’t sing!  Thrice I  tried  to do Hemantda’s  song Kahin deep jale kahin dil. Each time I  found I my voice faltering. There  was something seriously wrong. I told Hemantda to go ahead and  record  the song with someone else. But he  was  adamant. ‘It will  be you, or no song at all.I’ll wait.’He gave me strength to  recover. He wasn’t alone. The  entire  entertainment industry  prayed  for me.”

Sure  enough Lataji’s voice  recovered  and she gave  a  rousing performance  singing  that exquisite composition.

And  to think doctors had warned he  she would  not be  able to sing again!

Lataji said to me. “If  you want something  done from me all you have  to  do  is tell me I can’t do it.I cannot  accept  a ‘no’ for anything. It was a very challenging phase for me. I could have given  up my career so early . But I  refused  to listen to  what others said.”

It is  this  resilience  that  now holds Lataji in  good stead as  she recovers from her  illness. She has pulled out this health crisis because she won’t allow herself to go before she  wants to.There is  a lot of unfinished  business to  attend to.Lataji is  not going anywhere.

Kahin deep jale kahin dil  fetched Lataji her  second Filmfare award .She accepted only one more Filmfare award(for  the song Aap mujhe achche lagne lage in  the  film Jeena  Ki Raah)  before bowing  out  of  the Filmfare awards.

“I wanted  other singers to  get a chance to be recognized,” she explained.

Isn’t this thought  in direct contradiction to the  allegations  of  monopoly that followed Lataji’s career right till present times? In fact it  is said that jealous rivals  had arranged  to poison her  voice  .That’s how she almost  lost it in  1961.

She replied softly, “I’ve heard these rumours  too. But I refuse to accept that anyone would want  to harm me. Far from discouraging other singers I always tried to encourage new talent. When I couldn’t sing  a particular song I recommended my colleagues. But if composers wanted only my voice, there is  little I  could do  to change their  mind.”

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