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(Exclusive) ‘Reality shows ruin the life of children’: Lata Mangeshkar

Lata Mangeshkar is not impressed with reality shows featuring kids in dance and music. By Karan Bhardwaj

Reality shows have given some of the best voices to the film industry. Today, even kids-based reality shows are hugely popular among masses. But the nightingale of India, Lata Mangeshkar, is totally against the idea of getting kids on stage to perform. In an exclusive interview with this writer, published in magazine Rail Bandhu, the songstress has taken hard stand against kids-based reality shows. She said, “I’m against this concept. Reality shows ruin the life of children. They may sing on a stage but they are unlikely to get work in films. In this game of recognition and glamour, they get distracted from their studies. Parents keep hounding them to perform better.”

Reality shows

Lata Mangeshkar completes 75 years of her singing career, a sort of world record

In an extended chat that brought up Mangeshkar’s several watershed moments of her career, the Bharat Ratna awardee recalled how playback singing rose to fame from ashes. The playback singers were not given any recognition until she pressed for it in late 40s. “Before Mahal (1949), music records registered the names of characters performing the songs on screen. Aayega Aanewala, which was initially credited to Kamini, the character played by Madhubala, was the turning point in that case. When All India Radio played the track, their phone lines were jammed with calls enquiring the name of the vocalist. They received stacks of letters requesting the identity of the voice. Ultimately, AIR had to announce my name. After that, I requested Raj Kapoor to start giving credit to the playback singers. His next film Barsaat, released in the same year, started this new trend,” she reminisced.

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Today, music is a glorious career with Indian musicians getting national and international honour. However, it was Mangeshkar who forcefully got the industry to recognise playback singing. It was she who asked Filmfare to start an award category for playback singers and lyricists. “When Filmfare awards were constituted in 1950s, there was no recognition of playback singers. After four or five editions, Shankar Jaikishan bagged the award for Best Song in 1956 for Rasik Balma (Chori Chori). They requested me to perform the song on stage at the award night. I refused to oblige. I told them ‘Aapke gaane me aapko award mila hai, to aap bajaiye… Agar vo playback singer ko bhi dete, toh mai bhi gaati aapke sath’. Mr JC Jain, the man behind Filmfare awards, called me and said there’s no such trend even in Hollywood. I explained to him that unlike Hollywood, Indian Cinema is incomplete without songs. So how can we snub vocalists and lyricists? During the conversation, he promised to start the new category for singers and lyricists from the following year. Lekin maine kaha jab aap shuru karenge, mai tabhi aakar gaungi. Award chaahe kisi ko bhi mile, mai aa jaungi (I told him I will sing only when you start honouring playback singers. No matter who wins the award, I will come and perform). Finally, the new categories were introduced in 1958. For Madhumati, the entire music team was honoured including me (singer), Shailendra (lyricist) and Salil Choudhury (music director),” she said.

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Little do people know that the Bharat Ratna awardee gave up the trophy of Filmfare early in her career in order to promote fresh talent. “I knew I would get most of it because almost every film had my songs. So I requested them to stop considering me for the award to promote fresh talent. My last Filmfare was for Aap Mujhe Achhe Lagne Lage. After that, a lot of other singers began to receive the trophy. It made me really happy. ‘Har saal main lekar aa jaun ghar me, mujhe ye achha nahi laga,’” she said.

Read the full interview here!

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