Lata Mangeshkar is one of the most talented, versatile and most popular and acclaimed playback singer of India. Her voice is considered as one of the finest voices for playback. Her career spanning over more than five decades, has offered us a song for every occasion. We have smiled with her songs, sobbed with it, celebrated many festivals with her songs in the background. My day never completes without her song. Today on her 89th birthday, I’m here with her songs sung with her sisters.
It won’t be an exaggeration to say that Hindi film industry was once ruled by Mangeshkars. Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle have been a role model for many aspiring singers for decades. While Lata has been a perfect voice for the main lead, Asha has been a voice for all. She not only represented the main lead, but sang the dance numbers, Mujras, cabarets, club songs with equal ease and perfection.
Lata and Asha no doubt shared the top position, Usha Tai also made a mark with iconic songs. ‘Main To Aarti Utaru’ and ‘Mungda’ to name a few.
The Mangeshkar sisters have sung duets and trios, and for me those songs have attained a different status altogether. I’m focusing these songs today to wish Lata Didi happy birthday!
Lata Mangeshkar has sung a number of duets with nearly every singer of the golden era. Right from Shamshad Begum and G M Durrani to Manhattan and Hemlata, she has sung with majority of male and female playback singers of the Golden Era. I tried to search for her first non-solo song with any other singer, in Hindi films as a playback singer. The most likely song for this position is ‘Jawani Ki Rail Chali Jaye Re’ from Shehnai in 1947. It was a trio with Geeta Dutt and Chitalkar. It is also her first song with C Ramchandra.
In the year, 1948 her younger sister Asha Bhosle made her debut as a playback singer in Chunariya, under composer Hansraj Behl. I’m confused about her debut, as in a Vasant Desai film, Andhon Ki Duniya (1947) some songs are credited to her. But I couldn’t confirm it. Anyway, it’s not the topic for today.
Coming to Lata’s duets with Asha Bhosle. It is said that both of them were not on good terms in the earlier part of their career, and recording a duet wasn’t easy. Finally in 1951, K Datta, recorded Asha and Lata’s first duet for the film, Daman (ये रुकी रुकी हवाँए). It is also said that, in 50s, many of their duets were recorded separately and mixed afterwards. There are a plenty of duets, around 70+,majority of the duets are popular and all stalwarts had their fair share.
In contrast to Lata-Usha duets, majority of the songs are from A grade movies. Usually main female lead is a part of the song, and no points for guessing that she gets Lata’s playback. For their trios, Usha Mangeshkar gets the least chance to sing. In majority of the trios, she hardly gets a line or two of her own. Their last song together was for the film Aaina (1993) which was a trio with Suresh Wadkar.
Meena Mangeshkar-Khadikar is younger to Lata, but elder to Asha Bhosle. She wasn’t much into playback singing, even for Marathi films. She debuted as a playback singer in Hindi films, in 1953, with the film, Farmaish. She sang two duets with Rafi, ‘Aap Ne Chhin Liya Dil’ and ‘Khushiyon Ke Zamane Aaye’. The latter is a typical Husnalal Bhagatram song. She later sang only three songs with Lata Mangeshkar. All the songs were trios with Asha Bhosle as a co singer in one song, and Usha Mangeshkar in the other two. Though not active in Hindi films, she composed for a few Marathi films. She also composed बालगीते (songs for children) which were recorded in her own children’s voices and are popular till date in every house in Maharashtra.
Usha Mangeshkar is the youngest among Mangeshkar sisters, but elder to Hridaynath Mangeshkar. She entered Hindi films in 1954, where is sang a solo for C Ramchandra for the movie, Subah Ka Taara. The next year saw her singing two duets with Lata Mangeshkar for the film, Azaad. The songs were hugely popular and their magic still continues. Later, she sang a number of duets and trios with Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar. Her duets with Lata Mangeshkar count to more than 50. After going through the songs, I realized that many of the songs are by Chitragupt, G S Kohli and Ganesh for low budget movies. Nearly all the songs are dance numbers. Very few of those songs are picturised even on a supporting character let alone the main lead . As I said earlier, even in these duets Lata gets more lines, Usha hardly manages to get a line or two. She never got a fair share in her duets with Lata Mangeshkar.
Though she sang solos, for main lead, for dance numbers etc, she couldn’t create much impact in Hindi films. Her career in Marathi songs, let those be film or non film, is more popular and versatile.
Let’s now go to the list. I have selected Lata’s duets and trios only with Mangeshkar sisters. I haven’t considered trios with a male voice. So here we go, Lata’s songs with Mangeshkar sisters, in no particular order.
1. Banno Ke Haath Bhari Mehendi – Chandani Chowk (1954) With Asha Bhosle and Meena Mangeshkar / Roshan – Majrooh
This song must be just after Meena Mangeshkar’s entry into Hindi films. It’s a happy song with bride’s friends teasing her. I couldn’t identify anyone’s voice individually, the voices appear more or less the same.
The video of the song is not available, but here’s the audio, a fairly good quality.
2. Baliye O Baliye Chal Chaliye – Azaad (1955) With Usha Mangeshkar / C Ramchandra – Rajendra Krishna
I chose this song, because though equally good, ‘Aplam Chaplam’ is always much talked about. This one’s also picturised on Sai and Subbulakshmi. In this song as well, the voices sound so similar, I haven’t been able to differentiate between the two voices. I think, Usha Tai didn’t get much opportunity for big banners, otherwise she would also have shined.
3. Ari Koi Jao Ri – Patrani (1956) With Meena Mangeshkar and Usha Mangeshkar / Shankar Jaikishan – Shailendra
A marriage song, with Vaijayanti Mala’s friends teasing her. A good song, but Usha and Meena Mangeshkar have no individual lines, they majorly form a part of chorus. In second stanza, they get to sing a few lines, but again together.
4. Yeh Barkha Bahar -Mayurpankh (1954) With Asha Bhosle / Shankar Jaikishan – Shailendra
Both the singers get equal opportunity, excellent rendition by both. At least it’s not possible to decide the best one. Excellent composition, I’ve no words to describe it.
A beautiful Kathak performance by two dancers, whom I couldn’t identify. A Mujra song, in a King’s court.
5. O Chand Jahan Woh Jaye – Sharda (1957) With Asha Bhosle / C Ramchandra – Rajendra Krishna
One of their most popular duets, that was allegedly recorded separately and mixed later. Meena Kumari gets Lata’s playback, Shyama gets Asha’s. One of my favourites too. I personally like Asha’s part more. I feel it’s full of energy and freshness, both in Asha’s voice and on screen as well. Shyama looks so gorgeous and her expressions are superb.
6. Saanjh Bhayi Sun Ri Sakhi – Honeymoon (1960) With Usha Mangeshkar / Salil Choudhary – Shailendra
Beautifully sung by both, very difficult to differentiate the voices. A typical Salil Da melody, with its characteristic sweetness. Very melodious song indeed.
7. Dagabaaz Ho Banke Piya – Burma Road (1962) With Usha Mangeshkar / Chitragupt – Majrooh
This is a typically sweet melody by Chitragupt, with Kumkum and Jeevankala as dancers. It’s like Sone pe suhaga. I am completely in love with this song. An energetic dance number, sung excellently well by both. I think a must in Lata-Usha song list.
8. Khile Hai Sakhi Aaj – Grihasthi (1963) With Asha Bhosle and Usha Mangeshkar / Ravi – Shakeel Badayuni
Once more, one of my favourites. Mangeshkar sisters singing again a pre- marriage song. Lata sings for Rajshree, Asha for Shubha Khote, and Usha Mangeshkar for Indrani Mukherji. A cute and enjoyable song.
9. Mubarak Hai Woh Dil – Benazir (1964) With Asha Bhosle and Usha Mangeshkar / S D Burman – Shakeel Badayuni
Benazir was a social Muslim film, with some great songs by Burman da.
Here for a change Asha gets more lines than the other two. Mangeshkar sisters appear to enjoy it fully. They do full justice to their on screen characters.
This one’s a sweet teasing song, Tanuja’s saheliyan ribbing her. Blushing Tanuja looks very charming and beautiful.
10. Sajna Kidhar Sari Ratiyan – Aasra (1966) With Usha Mangeshkar / Laxmikant Pyarelal – Anand Bakshi
A dance performance at a marriage. (Boy! My list is full of pressure marriage and marriage songs this time!) Bela Bose and very young Lakshmi Chhaya (most probably) performing a nice dance. One of the examples of the secondary songs offered to Lata-Usha duo.
11. Ae Kash Kisi Deewane Ko – Aaye Din Bahar Ke (1966) With Asha Bhosle / Laxmikant Pyarelal – Anand Bakshi
Asha Bhosle opens the song and steals the show. Her expressions are wonderful, the eagerness of the character to fall in love, is conveyed so well. Lata singing for Asha Parekh, advises her against it and warns her of the side effects of it.
12. Main Chali Main Chali – Padosan (1968) With Asha Bhosle and Chorus / R D Burman – Rajendra Krishna
Both the sisters are neck and neck, Asha Bhosle scoring a bit more for me. Her slightly high pitched voice sounds wonderful and attracts more attention, though on screen her voice is not enacted by any famous face.
13. Mere Mehboob Mein Kya Nahin – Mere Mehboob (1963) With Asha Bhosle / Naushad – Shakeel Badayuni
A very popular and melodious song. Again a neck and neck competition between the sisters. Both win of course! A duet divided perfectly equally. Sadhna and Amita enjoying it on screen makes it even a visual treat.
14. Lai Kahan Ae Zindagi – Taxi Taxi (1977) With Asha Bhosle / Hemant Bhosle – Majrooh
A duet where Asha sings for herself. A song picturised in a recording studio, where she is shown singing. A woman standing near the chorus suddenly breaks into singing in Lata’s voice. A promising song by Hemant Bhosle, who couldn’t achieve fame and died young. He was of course Asha Tai’s son.
15. Man Kyon Behka Ri Behka – Utsav (1985) With Asha Bhosle / Laxmikant Pyarelal – Vasant Dev
It was a rare musical treat in a decade, where songs had lost their melody and harmony. Thanks to this period film, where L P could experiment such songs. Sung wonderfully by both, this was performed on screen by two gorgeous women, Rekha and Anuradha Patel. Enjoy this song.
Which of your favourite song would you add?
Mehfil Mein Meri claims no credit of any image or song posted on the site. The images are copyright of their original owners. The song links shared from YouTube are for the music lovers to enjoy. The songs are the copyright of their original owners.