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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 September, 2004, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
The nightingale of India turns 75

By Yash Chopra
Bollywood director

Bollywood diva Lata Mangeshkar, who has sung over 50,000 songs in 20 Indian languages, has turned 75. One of her closest colleagues looks back at her extraordinary career.

Cover of The Rough Guide To Bollywood Legends: Lata Mangeshkar
Lata as seen on The Rough Guide To Bollywood Legends: Lata Mangeshkar
She is the blessed one - she is blessed by God, and one who is blessed never faces failure. There are no lows in the career of Lata Mangeshkar.

There can be no comparison between her and other Indian singers. Other singers follow music; in Lata's case music follows her.

At the age of 75, she has sung the songs on my new film Veer Zaara, a cross-border love story. The songs have been composed by the late Madan Mohan.

I have been always amazed by her discipline which sustains her quality of singing
As usual, she has sung them superbly. As usual, I see God's blessings in her voice again.

She has sung nine songs in my new film, but there is this one song which has been rendered so well that it remains etched in my mind - check out 'Tere Liye Hum Hai Jiye' (I have lived for you).

Lata has invested the song with such unbelievable emotion and nuance that when you listen to it, you realise why she is who she is and why she has remained on top for so long.


I find everything she sings superb but from my own songs it is difficult to choose a favourite. I'd say the Veer Zaara song is something to listen to.

Lata Mangeshkar
Mangeshkar is one of India's most prolific artistes [Picture: Outlook]

Lata Mangeshkar was already singing and famous before I made my name in Bollywood films.

I remember I used to watch her singing in the studio when I was working as an assistant director in Bollywood in the 1950s.

I used to keep my distance; she was far too big for people like us.

Lata sang for me for the first time in my debut film Dhool ka Phool (Flower of dust) in 1959.

The song was Tere Pyar Ka Aasra Chahta Hoon (I want the shelter of your love). It was an unbelievably beautiful duet.

I could not believe it when the legendary singer was recording for my film.

The interaction between the singer and the director had begun, but it took it time. We had so much respect for her that we'd feel nervous talking to her.

Sheer discipline

As time passed, our relationship reached a comfort level. Today she calls me 'Yash bhai (brother)' and I address her as 'didi' (older sister).

Former Prime Minister Vajpayee with Mangeshkar
Lata has won many awards in her long career
We share a wonderful relationship. I think people who get a chance to work with her, know her, and spend time with her should consider themselves fortunate.

I have been always amazed by her discipline which sustains her quality of singing. But then her love for singing transcends her hard work and sees her through everything.

I wish her a very long life and many more years to bless us with her wonderful songs.

(Yash Chopra spoke to Lata Khubchandani)

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