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When Lataji Singlehandedly changed The Future Of Playback Singing



Lataji Mangeshkar

Playback singing in Hindi cinema can be divided into  two neat halves: before and after Lata  Mangeshkar .

Before Lataji, the vinyl  records carried the name of the character  for whom the singer sang rather than the singer’s name!

After Lataji’s Aayega aanewala from Mahal  became  a  rage in 1949, Latji put her foot down on behalf of  all the playback singers and insisted that the singer’s name be put on the vinyl records.

Initially the producers laughed off her request. They then saw she was serious. She resolved to not sing rather than allow  the singer’s rightful credit to  be taken  away. That’s when the producers  had to bow to her request.

I had spoken to Lataji on this topic.  “I think in 1949, I sang around 100-120 songs. The majority of them, from films like Mehboob’s Andaz and Raj Kapoor’s Barsaat, were big hits. In 1949, I had 40-50 chartbusters, including Hawaa mein udta jaye, Jiya beqaraar hai (Barsaat); Aayega aanewala (Mahal); Lara lapaa (Ek Thi Ladki); Chup chup khade ho (Badi Bahen); and Sajan ki galiyan chhod chale (Lahore).”

Lataji recalled the scenario when  she came into the  Mumbai  film industry. “Playback singers were called ‘ghost voices’, because we really were like ghosts… totally invisible to the public. Even my name was not printed on the records; it was the name of the character that the heroine played that was printed on the record. For the song Ayega aanewala, for Mahal, the name on the record was ‘Kamini‘, which was [actor] Madhubala’s name in the film.I couldn’t allow this injustice to playback singers.”

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