The night Lata Mangeshkar was outed as a film composer

May 3rd, 2009 - 3:20 pm ICT by IANS  

By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, May 3 (IANS) India’s nightingale Lata Mangeshkar may have ended up as one part of a composer duo - a bit like Shankar-Jaikishan - rather than the singer of 27,000 songs had her brother not dissuaded her.

Unknown to the rest of India, Lata - the country’s greatest female non-classical singer - was quietly composing music for films in her native Marathi language and nearly ended up scoring for Hindi films, according to a new book on her.

Lata says she wanted to keep her identity as a composer a secret but was outed at an awards ceremony when one of the four Marathi films for which wrote the music ended up a multi-award winner.

She even gave herself a male pseudonym, Anandghan.

“No one knew I was composing film music, but then ‘Sadhi Manas’ went on to win eight Maharashtra state awards, including best director, best singer, best story and best music,” she says in the book, “Lata Mangeshkar, In Her Own Voice”, written by London-based documentary filmmaker and author Nasreen Munni Kabeer.

On the awards night in 1966, Lata said she accepted the best singer award, “and then the best music award was announced.

“I stayed firmly in my seat. The master of ceremonies explained the music composer Anandghan was none other than Lata Mangeshkar. So I was forced to publicly accept the award.”

“At one point I thought Hridayanath and I could become a composing duo like Shankar-Jaikishan, but my brother was not very keen. So, we dropped the idea.

“Some years later, Hrishikesh Mukherjee asked me to compose music for his (1971) film ‘Anand’ but I politely refused. I was not keen on composing any more. I did not really have the time and was so busy recording.

“I told Hrishi-da some time later I was glad I had refused ‘Anand’ because Salil Chowdhury wrote beautiful music for the film.”

The book, which reproduces a series of conversations between Lata and Kabeer, is to be launched in Mumbai May 15.

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