A very large part of the new Oscar-nominated Dev Patel film Lion is based in India, and for this section some of the narrative, music from the 1980s has been used to accentuate the era. A very unusual choice is a rare Lata Mangeshkar song ‘Aaja Nindiya Aaja’ from a 1984 film Lorie featuring Shabana Azmi and the late Farouq Sheikh.
A haunting lullaby composed by the veteran Khayyam, it occurs twice in Lion. Once when the child protagonist Saroo (Sunny Pawar) wandering lost on the streets of Kolkata is taken in by an ostensibly kind woman (Tannishtha Chatterjee). The number is repeated later in the film when Saroo now an adult (Dev Patel) is at a house party with his Indian friends in Australia. If you listen carefully, ‘Aaja Nindiya Aaja’ plays as part of the party music.
Lataji recalls the number fondly. “I’ve sung some exquisite songs for Khayyam Saab. This lullaby in Lorie never got its due. I am glad it’s being noticed now.”
Speaking of her luminous list of lullabies Lataji says, “I’ve sung some lullabies that have gone on to become very popular. I think the most popular is ‘Dheere Se Aaja Ri Ankhiyan Mein’ from the 1952 film Albela and ‘Aa Ja Ri Aanindiya Tu Aa’ in the film Do Bigha Zameen. I don’t think they have lullabies in our films anymore.”