Together, they changed the destiny of Bengali popular songs. The Bengali songs of Lata Mangeshkar composed by Salil Choudhary changed the entire profile and personality of the popular film song in Bengal.
And now 19 years after the composing maestro's death, Lataji who turns 85 on September 28 recorded a newly-discovered tune by Salilda under the musical supervision of the singer's protege composer Mayuresh Pai.
Says Lataji, "Salilda was Salilda. No one could compose songs like him. His tunes were layered and textured and very difficult to sing. I loved the challenge of singing Salilada's 'Raaton Ke Saaye Ghane' in Annadata and 'Rajnigandha Phool Tumhare' on Rajnigandha."
Folklore has it that once during a particularly difficult recording of a song composed by Salil Chowdhury, Lataji had passed out.
She laughs, "It's a fact. I did faint while singing one of his songs. Salilda's tunes were a special challenge for me. And the fact that many of his Bangla compositions were later sung in Hindi made it doubly difficult for me. Salilda's 'Ja Re Ude Ja Re Pakhi' became 'Ja Re Ud Re Panchi' in Hindi. 'Na Mono Lage Na' and 'Nishidin Nishidin' were composed and sung in both Bangla and Hindi, and so many others."
And now an undiscovered composition of Salilda has reached Lataji's lips.
"It's a great honour to be singing one of Salilda's compositions when he is no more with us. I hope I do justice the song," says Lataji.
Incidentally this is not the first posthumous song that Lataji has sung by a deceased composer. Weeks after R D Burman passed away, Lataji recorded 'Kuch Na Kaho' for Vinod Chopra's 1942: A Love Story. Some months after the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's death, Lataji sang his composition 'Tere Bin Nahin Jeena Mar Jaana Dholna' in the film Kachche Dhaage. And decades after Madan Mohan death she sang his compositions in Veer-Zara.
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