By Subhash K Jha
At heart Lata Mangeshkar to this day remains her Papa’s little girl.
Lataji’s father loved hearing his daughter recite the Gayatri Mantra in her clear Sanskrit diction even when she was just a child and could barely speak properly.
It was Lataji’s father Pandit Hridaynath Mangeshkar’s wish that one day his eldest-born record the Gayatri Mantra.
Now 70 years after her father’s death Lataji has fulfilled his dying wish in the album Shree Gayatri Mahamantra.
Says the Nightingale, “It has taken me that long to gather the courage to sing the Gayatri Mantra. I thought, if not now, when? However I’ve taken a somewhat unconventional route to recitation.
I start in the album by reciting the Gayatri Mantra and then I sing the Suyra Mantra six times. While reciting the Surya Mantra I mention the 12 names by which Surya Bhagwan is known. ”
The melodious mantras in the album have been composed by young Mayuresh Pai.
Says Lataji, “This has been my most difficult challenge in the devotional genre. I’ve sung some very difficult Bhajans and recited the Bhagwat Gita for my brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar’s compositions. But this one was different. It was for my father. It had to be just the way he would have liked it. ”
Lataji who usually refuses to hear her own songs and switches off the television when her songs are telecast, has heard her new album and for once, liked what she has done.
Says the severely self-critical songstress, “I am normally quite embarrassed by my own singing. Earlier when I’d hear my songs I’d quickly go to the kitchen and start clanging the vessels to drown my voice. But over the years I’ve become more tolerant. Now at least I can bear to hear my own voice. ”
Interestingly Lataji has given the precious Gayatri Mantra album to a new music company in Kolkata thereby breaking her long association with the oldest music company in India, Saregama HMV.
Says a lose relative of Lataji, “Didi’s last album Sarhadein was simply killed by HMV. And does anyone know she has recorded an album of Meera Bhajans entitled Meera Soor Kabira with her brother ten years ago?
It’s a collector’s item for her fans. But HMV didn’t put it in the market properly. We advised Didi to take the unusual route with her new album. ”