Flawlessly dressed in white, her hair neatly braided on each side; Lataji’s modest identity forever remains perfectly in sync with her celestial voice. With her name carved onto millions of hearts, her loss too feels deeply personal. Rightfully hailed as “a voice for every emotion”, I am certain it would travel through and continue to mesmerise entire generations.
Any tribute would fall inadequate, for such is the legacy she leaves behind. With much certainty that it can get incredibly challenging to list out favourites from a career that spans over seven decades, I embark on a journey through some of her songs.
Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh – Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai
With lyrics from Shailendra blending into Shankar-Jaikishan’s music, a masterpiece is born in Lataji’s rendition. Of disenchanted desires, unsettled lives and a love that seems so far even when it is close; Ajeeb Dastan Hai is a beautiful paradox, an enigma that breads familiarity in all its strangeness. It remains unique much like Meena Kumari’s emotive eyes, with a tinge of torment enveloped in the reminiscing dreams of a distant past.
Lag Ja Gale – Wo Kaun Thi
A deeply calming melody that make me deeply nostalgic for some unknown reason. It feels as if the moonlit glow from the visuals permeates through to Lataji’s voice. Set in Rag Pahari by Madan Mohan, the lyrics from Raja Mehdi Ali make this iconic composition all the more captivating. Engulfed in its hypnotic embrace, it is a song I can endlessly listen to.
Kya Jaanu Sajan – Baharon Ke Sapne
Like the lover’s touch that turns into bangles on her wrist, this song is a hauntingly beautiful expression of love. It is a pleasing, rhythmic piece that engages us entirely, echoing into the deep depths of our hearts. Along with Majrooh Sultanpuri’s lyrics and R D Burman’s music, Lataji’s effortless rendition takes us into a world glimmering with light from a hundred lamps .
Rim Jhim Gire Saawan – Manzil
There is nothing more exciting than fusing romance with rain. This flawless duet from the legendary Kishore Kumar and Lataji literally flows through us like tiny droplets of rain. There is a dream like quality to it as the adorable pair, Ajay (Amitabh Bachchan) and Aruna (Moushumi Chatterjee), playfully walk through the streets of Bombay laced in monsoons. After all, it is the person who dances with you in the rain that is most likely to walk with you through a storm. With lyrics from Yogesh accompanying R D Burman’s music, Rim Jhim Gire Saawan is one of the most poetic love songs ever. It is one that makes me want to fall in love with the sheer idea of love.
Paani Paani Re – Maachis
Deeply soulful and poignant, it is an outstanding composition from Vishal Bhardwaj. It carries me into a reflective frame of mind and somehow, I end up with a feeling of finding beauty in tragedy. Like a thumri or a sufi song, there is a peculiarly mystic, earthy touch which brings me back to it every single time. Combined with Gulzar’s magical lyrics, it is fascinating how Lataji’s voice subtly gives me a sense of closure. Paani Paani Re is a soul-stirring, immersive experience in itself.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.