Mumbai: Lata Mangeshkar, who turned 82 Wednesday, says she has no regrets in life as she has best of the family, friends and her singing journey has been satisfactory.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: Looking back, do you regret not getting married?
A: Not at all. I`ve no regrets in life. I never got a chance to get married and I never thought about. I believe what happens is what was meant to happen. I am happy the way I am. I am far removed from worldly matters.
Q: You are considered the single-most powerful woman of the entertainment industry. What does power mean to you?
A: Good question. Power to me means the power to excel in my work, to not misuse the power is power to me. It`s easy to get swayed and drunk on power. All these years I made sure I remained down to earth.
Q: You are supposed to be extremely quick on the uptake when recording songs?
A: Ah, that`s a gift I have received from god. Naushad Saab used to say, `Okay, you`ve picked up the tune. But I still want you to come back tomorrow to rehearse.`
Q: You mean just for the heck of it?
A: Jee haan. I knew the song in five minutes. But still he wanted a rehearsal.
Q: Any composer whose songs were tougher to master?
A: Sajjad Hussain saab`s songs made me tense. We shared a beautiful rapport. But in the recording room, he was relentless. Then my brother Hridayanath`s compositions are a special challenge.
Q: 82, still you are the one and only Lata Mangeshkar?
A: It`s the blessings I`ve received from my parents and god.
Q: You`ve looked after your family from the time when you were hardly more than a child?
A: Here, I`d like to correct you. I`m very proud to say my family ceased to be dependent on me from a very young age. From the age of 11, Hridayanath never asked me for a penny.
My sisters - Asha, Meena, Usha - and my brother made their own careers. Asha left home when she was 14-15 and fended for himself. For Bhai-dooj Hridayanath used to give me and my sisters Rs.1.25. Now he gives me in thousands. You wouldn`t come across a prouder sister than me.
Q: You sound emotional.
A: That`s how I get when I speak about my brother. Do you know he was four when he got bone TB? His foot was permanently damaged by the illness. We sisters had to carry him around. However, a tribal vaidya in Kolhapur in 1943 cured him miraculously.
Q: Do you feel because of your stature, your siblings did not get their dues?
A: Today, in Maharashtra it`s not just me who`s recognised. We are known collectively as the Mangeshkar family. But yes, to an extent the belief that other trees cannot grow under a banyan tree is applicable to my family.
Q: It is said Asha Bhosle moved out of your shadows to find her identity?
A: This is absolutely wrong. There`s no fight between us. We live in adjoining flats and there`s a connecting door between our homes. But yes, at a tender age Asha left home and got married. And she made a big name for herself. I`m very proud of her.
Q: How do you rate Asha as a singer?
A: She didn`t become famous for nothing. She can sing every kind of song. Thank god, she didn`t adopt my style of singing. If she had, we`d have become competition for one another. Yeh man-na padega ki woh bahut badi gayika hai.
Q: Do you miss your great colleagues?
A: Oh yes! I miss Kishore-da (Kumar) and Mukesh bhaiyya. I also miss Mohd Rafi Saab. I miss Madan bhaiyya (Mohan), Salil Choudhary, Shankar-Jaikishan, Hemant Kumar and Naushad Saab.
Q: What other dreams do you nurture?
A: What I`ve received is much more than I deserve. I look at artists better than me and wonder why they didn`t get the fame they deserve.
Q: Like who?
A:(Taken aback) What do you mean? (laughs). There are so many artistes better than me. There is a world outside cinema where much talent languishes. Look at classical singers. They die in penury.
Q: There is just one music director who never worked with you...
A:(promptly) O.P. Nayyar. He was a fine music director. But his style didn`t suit me. That`s what he told me. And I agreed. He publicly acknowledged me as the No.1 singer.
Q: What style are we talking about here?
A: The way he made Geeta Dutt or my sister Asha sing was not suited to me. But you know when he set out to compose for his first film, he called me to sing. But I had to cancel the recording. I think he felt bad about the cancellation of his first song.
Q: Who are the people from the entertainment industry you are fond of?
A: Yash Chopra, Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kohli (composer Madan Mohan`s son) and Dilip Kumar Saab.
Q: Have you tried staying in touch with them?
A: Yashji and Sanjeev, yes. I tried connecting with Dilip Saab but I was not allowed to by someone on his end. But I know he loves this Chhoti Bahen of his. I formed many unforgettable relationships and they remain with me even if I don`t meet them.